April 23 2007 marks the 25th birthday of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. No other home computer had more impact in Europe during the early 80s and no other single machine in history has inspired so many teenagers to become engineers, programmers and designers.
The computer itself was a stroke of pure genius. Small, powerful, cheap and it looked damn good compared to the beige Apple II clones of the time. It’s unique single-keystroke method of Basic programming was a huge advantage for beginners since it prevented typos from frustrating the programmer. It featured eight colors in two shades (Wow!), a little beeper for sound (Yay!) and an audio cassette interface that worked pretty much every time. Well, almost every time.
But the real genius of Clive Sinclair was the other thing in the box: The manual. The ZX Spectrum programming manual was probably the most comprehensive programming manual ever created for a computer by its manufacturer. Clive Sinclair cared about the users of his computer. He was a visionary who desperately wanted this machine to change how people learned to program, and the Spectrum manual documents this on every page.
And then of course there are the games. The Spectrum taught a whole generation how to program and had enough power and features to let them create the one thing they really, really wanted: Games.
Today the Spectrum is looking back at an astonishing software library of more than 14000 titles. Many of these games were the first of their kind and their rich heritage lives on in today’s entertainment software industry.
And many of our leading programmers are today looking back at the day 25 years ago when they opened that black, glossy cardboard box with the rainbow stripes in the corner, the day when their very own ZX Spectrum for the first time showed it’s fuzzy message on the TV in the living room:
© 1982 Sinclair Research Ltd
Happy Birthday, Speccy!