31 октября 1995

Part 11 - Spectrum history (part 3).

<b>Part 11</b> - Spectrum history (part 3).


Continuing  our series looking back at the
History  of  Sir  Clive  and  the Sinclair
Computers, we head back to 1987 and take a
look  at  what  Crash thought of the first
new  Sinclair  machine  since  the Amstrad
buyout - the Z88.

SINCLAIR'S Z88 - Pandora's Box?
Review taken from Crash #39 - April 1987

Uncle  Clive has been plugging the idea of
a  portable  machine  since he first began
making  computers  -  in  fact,  his first
computer  concept,  the  NewBrain,  was  a
portable   machine.   That  was  orignally
developed   in   1978  by  his  old  firm,
Sinclair  Radionics. Later it was sold off
to  Newbury  Laboratories, who launched it
to an indifferent world in 1982.
As  Radionics  collapsed at the end of the
seventies,  Clive  Sinclair  set  up a new
firm,  Science  of  Cambridge,  with Chris
Curry,  a  star employee from his previous
firm. When Radionics finally bit the dust,
Science  of  Cambridge was renamed twice -
first  to  Sinclair  Computers and then to
Sinclair    Research.   No-one   was   the
slightest   bit   surprised  at  this,  as
Science of Cambridge advertisements looked
exactly the same as theirearlier Radionics
counterparts.  The  Sinclair link had been
obvious all along.

Clive has now sold his surname to Amstrad,
but  that  doesn't  stop him putting CLIVE
SINCLAIR (without the 'Sir') in large type
at  the  top  of the first page of the Z88
brochure.  The  leaflet  follows the usual
Sinclair  format,  just as the new company
name follows on from previous titles.
Cambridge  Computer  seems  to  be  run on
something  of  a  showstring.  The Z88 was
first  revealed at a lunch for journalists
at  Sir  Clive's house in London. Two days
later  a  prospective  customer arrived at
the  firm's Which Computer Show stand, and
asked  the  name of the Sales Director. He
was told, apologetically, that they hadn't
got one!
Chris  Curry  has evidently been impressed
by  the  ease with which Sinclair has kept
the ball rolling from one firm to another.
Curry  set  up  his  own company in 1979 -
Acorn  Computers  - and he duly left Uncle
Clive  after  the ZX-80, to work full time
on  his  own.  Acorn,  like  Radionics and
Sinclair  Research, had it's ups and downs
and was eventually bailed out by Olivetti.
Curry  abandoned  ship,  but he's still in
the game - he's the man behind the Red Box
add-ons which we reviewed in the Christmas

Science   of  Cambridge  avoided  portable
machines  at  first.  They produced a tiny
bare-board  computer  called the MK14, and
then  the ZX-80 - the first useful looking
computer  to  sell  for  under  ▄▒00.  The
design  of  the  Spectrum  ROM  is closely
allied  to  that  of  the  ZX-80  with the
ZX-81  - which actually was useful - as an
intermediate    step   between   the   two
In 1980 we were told that the ZX-80 "would
be  linked  to  a flat screen display." In
May of 1981 Sinclair upgraded his promise,
announcing  a  version of the ZX-81 with a
"four or five inch flat screen", scaled up
from  the Radionics pocket TV display...it
never  turned  up - even in protoype form.
In   1983   the   QL   was  planned  as  a
go-anywhere  machine,  with  space  for  a
column  of  U2 batteries along the back of
the  case.  Portability  went  out  of the
window  in the rush to get something on to
the  shelves,  as the bottom began to drop
out of the micro market.

A  design  recognisably similar to that of
the  Z88 was born early in 1984, partly in
an attempt to salvage ideas left over from
the  development  of  the QL and the LC-3.
The   low   cost   LC-3   was  the  first,
unreleased  Super-Spectrum. It was scrappe
in  1982,  when  a  follow  up didn't seem
necessary, and Sinclair Research turned to
grander designs.
The  details  of the planned portable were
published  in  February  1985,  and it was
scheduled  for  launch  "in 1986". At this
stage  the  machine  was  based around the
Spectrum  design, with a Z80 processor and
support  for  Spectrum  software. Built-in
business  packages  were  promised,  along
with   "bank   switched"   plug-in  memory
cartridges.  SA "proper light up display",
again  derive  from  the  pocket  TV,  was
considered essential.
"Liquid  Crystal  is  rubbish",  Sir Clive
explained. "Nobody pursuing that avenue is
getting  anywhere. Nobody in the world has
an  answer  to  the flat display problem -
except us."

After   a   massive   development  effort,
Sinclair  engineers did manage to scale up
the  Microvision  display,  but the result
was  not  judged  a great success. The new
screen  used  a  combination of lenses and
mirrors  to  project  a picture in the air
between  the  lid  and  the  base  of  the
prototype machine. The idea was ingenious,
and it worked after a fashion - but it was
heavy,  greedy  for  power,  fragile,  and
ill-suited to mass production...and that's
being   kind!   This  machine  was  dubbed
"Pandora" inside the company. Like that of
the  "Loki" proposal which I demolished in
August  1986,  this  name  was  rather  an
obscure  joke.  According to ancient myth,
Pandora  was  a  character  who  made  the
mistake  of  opening  the box in which all
the evils of the world were trapped, along
with  one  more  benign  quality  -  hope.
Opening  the  Pandora  computer case could
have released just about anything!
Under the termes of his sell-out, Sinclair
is   required  to  offer  future  computer
designs  to  Amstrad.  One look at Pandora
was  enough  to  put  them  off - the gave
Sinclair permission to go it alone.

Continued Next Issue...


Другие статьи номера:

Intro - Contents.

Part 1 - Editorial and news.

Part 2 - Playing tips.

Part 3 - Free games instructions.

Part 4 - Games that make you jump?

Part 5 - Emulate quiz.

Part 6 - The magic knight story.

Part 7 - Reviews.

Part 8 - Spectrum books database (part 1).

Part 9 - Spectrum games charts.

Part 10 - A-Z Of Spectrum games reviews (part 3).

Part 11 - Spectrum history (part 3).

Part 12 - Spectrum on the Net.

Part 13 - Adventures.

Part 14 - Past,present and future.

Темы: Игры, Программное обеспечение, Пресса, Аппаратное обеспечение, Сеть, Демосцена, Люди, Программирование

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