Wednesday, March 05, 2014

This is how it all started - 3/5/1981

My life was changed forever by this little machine. I learned the basics on the ZX81 and then moved on with IBM at UPS. In my retirement I still use a few things I learned on the little Sinclair in my home business.

The ZX81 was designed to be small, simple, and above all cheap, using as few components as possible to keep the cost down. Video output was to a television set rather than a dedicated monitor. Programs and data were loaded and saved onto audio tape cassettes. It had only four silicon chips on board and a mere 1 kB of memory. The machine had no moving parts – not even a power switch – and used a pressure-sensitive membrane keyboard for manual input. The ZX81's limitations prompted the emergence of a flourishing market in third-party peripherals to improve its capabilities. Such limitations, however, achieved Sinclair's objective of keeping the cost of the machine as low as possible. Its distinctive design brought its designer, Rick Dickinson, a Design Council award.

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