The Spectrum was not the first Sinclair computer to make it big. It was, however, the first to go massive. In the months prior to launching, ‘The Computer Programme’ had aired on the BBC, legitimising the home micro computer as the must have educational item of the 1980’s. For Sinclair and the ZX Spectrum the time was right, parents were keen, and the kids were excited. Games would soon be were everywhere thanks to all the kids programming their brand new Spectrums.
A major success factor, the one that gave the Spectrum its name, is the computer’s capacity to generate a spectrum of colours. The micro is capable of generating 16 colours; 8 low intensity colours and 8 matching bright variants. It’s hard to imagine now, but in 1982 these 16 colours were enough to start a home computer revolution. Richard Altwasser, the engineer employed by Sinclair to develop the Spectrum’s graphic systems, was setting a new benchmark with some very innovative ideas.
I’ve missed the entire 8 bit home micro revolution – I simply was too young or not even born yet. It must’ve been such an exciting time.
…more like an engineering mess. The ZX Spectrum had almost no redeeming features – terrible keyboard, horrible sound, a frankly disastrous colour system and a really poor BASIC. It was such a bad machine to develop on, some hit games were actually written on other Z80 systems, particularly the TRS-80.
It’s no wonder The Computer Programme mentioned here didn’t pick the ZX Spectrum for its shows – Acorn’s machine won that battle, got the name BBC Micro and sold into many UK schools. Look up “Micro Men” for a TV drama on the whole battle.
The ZX Spectrum was very popular because it was much cheaper than the BBC Micro (though hugely inferior in almost every way) and game developers flocked to it because of the number of users, not because it was a “miracle”.
Yes, tne 8-bit micro scene in the 80’s was diverse and quite fun, providing you could afford a better machine than the dismal ZX Spectrum…
Edited 2018-10-03 04:30 UTC