Author Topic: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair  (Read 1926 times)

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« on: 17 September, 2021, 12:56:20 am »
Changed computing and made some great products. (Spectrum, QL, Z88)

Made some duds too, but overall, good stuff.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

T42

  • My banana came out in the wash
Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #1 on: 17 September, 2021, 08:34:40 am »
Yes. My son had a Spectrum and went through the entire book of progs.  He never built on what he'd learnt, though, which was a disappointment.

When I was at school there used to be ads in Practical Wireless for the Sinclair Amplifier, price £5.
But they never got to Carcassonne.

Cudzoziemiec

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Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #2 on: 17 September, 2021, 08:37:03 am »
C5 hearse?
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #3 on: 17 September, 2021, 10:21:03 am »
At the age of 81, which I've always thought was his best number.

Beardy

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Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #4 on: 17 September, 2021, 10:28:37 am »
As a designer of niche transport solutions he made an excellent electronics and computing guru. ;D

My first recollection of his products was when a guy at school brought one of his early scientific calculators in. He wouldn’t let anyone else have a go because, he said, that it used reverse Polish notation and doing it wrong would break it.
Sorting my life out, one shed at a time.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #5 on: 17 September, 2021, 10:36:45 am »
Yes. My son had a Spectrum and went through the entire book of progs.  He never built on what he'd learnt, though, which was a disappointment.

When I was at school there used to be ads in Practical Wireless for the Sinclair Amplifier, price £5.

I had a Sinclair amplifier kit. I put it together  badly and it didn't work. I sent it off to Sinclair and they completely re-wired it for me. It worked well, apart from the rotarty imparting a scratchy noise as you used them.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #6 on: 17 September, 2021, 11:16:20 am »
I loved my 81, got it in 1981. Mine ended up in a DKTronics keyboard, with the power supply internal. 32K ram on the internal expansion board (which I soldered into place), plus another 8K of battery backup up static RAM sitting just above the ROM in the memory map. I made that from salvaged components as I had no money, and it let me have some software ready to run on power up (as long as they were written in machine code). Did some robotics stuff with it, and a lot of programming - which led me into my engineering career.
I didn't replace it until I went 8 bit Atari in about 1984/5 - it did what I needed and I wasn't too interested in playing Spectrum games. I could always borrow a Spectrum from the computer club if I wanted one.

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #7 on: 17 September, 2021, 11:25:45 am »
A fan from the early matchbox radio, Project 60 amps (never blew one up, record?) installed in the Garrard SP25 deck  - even bought the matching tuner.

The scientific was interesting, reverse Polish notation provided the learning curve needed for subsequent work HP kit.

The development story of the Scientific algorithm is detailed here - Brit ingenuity at it's finest
http://files.righto.com/calculator/sinclair_scientific_simulator.html

<Reversing Sinclair's amazing 1974 calculator hack - half the ROM of the HP-35
In a hotel room in Texas, Clive Sinclair had a big problem. He wanted to sell a cheap scientific calculator that would grab the market from expensive calculators such as the popular HP-35. Hewlett-Packard had taken two years, 20 engineers, and a million dollars to design the HP-35, which used 5 complex chips and sold for $395. Sinclair's partnership with calculator manufacturer Bowmar had gone nowhere. Now Texas Instruments offered him an inexpensive calculator chip that could barely do four-function math. Could he use this chip to build a $100 scientific calculator?
Texas Instruments' engineers said this was impossible - their chip only had 3 storage registers, no subroutine calls, and no storage for constants such as π. The ROM storage in the calculator held only 320 instructions, just enough for basic arithmetic. How could they possibly squeeze any scientific functions into this chip?

Fortunately Clive Sinclair, head of Sinclair Radionics, had a secret weapon - programming whiz and math PhD Nigel Searle. In a few days in Texas, they came up with new algorithms and wrote the code for the world's first single-chip scientific calculator, somehow programming sine, cosine, tangent, arcsine, arccos, arctan, log, and exponentiation into the chip. The engineers at Texas Instruments were amazed.>

ian

  • not a woman, not an american, not a vampire
Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #8 on: 17 September, 2021, 11:32:13 am »
A friend of mine got so angry playing Daley Thompson's Decathlon – the fate of many space bars – that he flung his Spectrum out of the bedroom window. They're not very aerodynamic.

It still worked though.
Authoritarian Thought Leader, the Pol Pot of Powerpoint, the Stalin of Spreadsheets

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #9 on: 17 September, 2021, 01:52:16 pm »
A couple of friends had ZX81s, and we got a Spectrum. I learnt a lot from that, and i suppose it was the start of my programming career.
I still eye up Z88s occasionally, though I'm not sure what I'd do with it.
Anyway, he made a difference to my life. So, thanks Clive.

Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk


TheLurker

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Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #10 on: 17 September, 2021, 02:02:02 pm »
I fried my ZX81 by plugging in an expansion board I'd built  from an R&EW kit ... toddles off for a look see... ah here we are

page 67  https://worldradiohistory.com/UK/Radio-&-Electronics-World/R&EW-1982-08.pdf 

And the cover of this issue is for the Speccy fans.
https://worldradiohistory.com/UK/Radio-&-Electronics-World/R&EW-1982-11.pdf

Τα πιο όμορφα ταξίδια γίνονται με τις δικές μας δυνάμεις - Φίλοι του Ποδήλατου

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #11 on: 17 September, 2021, 02:04:21 pm »
At the age of 81, which I've always thought was his best number.

The ZX81 with 16MB RAM pack, Blu-tac and a £5 secondhand TV was my first computer. At the time I used to work in finance at Amersham General Hospital and I used to program it to help me with my work. My boss was so impressed he asked whether the hospital should buy one. That was a long time ago, just a couple of years after '81.
I think you mean 16KB RAM pack . . .  16 megabyte RAM packs were a 1990s thing.

I remember my landlord getting a Spectrum in 1982, when it first came out. I'd just started my first programming job.

Clive Sinclair - brilliant, but with bizarre blind spots, exemplified by the C5 & the Zike - an electric bike which didn't sell because it was utter crap as a bike, but which Sinclair blamed the failure of on others.  Revolutionary hardware in some ways, but a tendency to take short cuts & ignore what users actually wanted. Some ASD tendencies, perhaps?
"A woman on a bicycle has all the world before her where to choose; she can go where she will, no man hindering." The Type-Writer Girl, 1897

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #12 on: 17 September, 2021, 02:06:16 pm »
There was a 4MB expansion available. Don't remember who made it now, but you bought 32KB (? - may have been 16 or 64k) modules that you could stack up.

I strongly suspect that the whole thing would collapse under it's own weight before you got that far.

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #13 on: 17 September, 2021, 02:15:14 pm »
I fried my ZX81 by plugging in an expansion board I'd built  from an R&EW kit ... toddles off for a look see... ah here we are

page 67  https://worldradiohistory.com/UK/Radio-&-Electronics-World/R&EW-1982-08.pdf 

OK, off down a memory lane rabbit hole now with suppliers who took far too much of my money back in the day.

Quartslab in Erith, Kent, who would custom make crystals to your specification. Now you just plug a PMR set into your computer to retune it.
Microwave Modules, SMC, Datong, Ambit, Wood & Douglas etc.

Sending off a cheque and waiting a couple of weeks for stuff to turn up.

The other interesting article in there is the one on the ZX81 display file. I remember to this day the key memory addresses on the ZX81; 16510, 16514, 16396 etc.  And calling into the ROM at 836 (RAND USR 836) to load a program from cassette but not auto-run it.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #14 on: 17 September, 2021, 04:12:59 pm »
As a designer of niche transport solutions he made an excellent electronics and computing guru. ;D

My first recollection of his products was when a guy at school brought one of his early scientific calculators in. He wouldn’t let anyone else have a go because, he said, that it used reverse Polish notation and doing it wrong would break it.

Didn't most calculators then use RPN?
I think my Dad's HP did...

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #15 on: 17 September, 2021, 04:22:35 pm »
When my dad brought home a ZX81 from work, 8 year old me didn't really know what to make of it. But then he loaded up Lunar Lander! Epic game  :)

I think I only got through 3 Spectrums, IIRC they just sent you another one if it broke....
Those wonderful norks are never far from my thoughts, oh yeah!

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #16 on: 17 September, 2021, 04:25:00 pm »
There was a 4MB expansion available. Don't remember who made it now, but you bought 32KB (? - may have been 16 or 64k) modules that you could stack up.

I strongly suspect that the whole thing would collapse under it's own weight before you got that far.

Not sure how that would work as the data bus of the 8 bit (CPU) ZX81 was 16 bits. Directly addressable memory was limited to 64Kb.

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #17 on: 17 September, 2021, 04:32:29 pm »
Didn't most calculators then use RPN?
I think my Dad's HP did...
Just HP AFAIK - my Texas TI59 and Sharp / Casio's all used algebraic entry

Feanor

  • It's mostly downhill from here.
Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #18 on: 17 September, 2021, 04:47:02 pm »
There was a 4MB expansion available. Don't remember who made it now, but you bought 32KB (? - may have been 16 or 64k) modules that you could stack up.

I strongly suspect that the whole thing would collapse under it's own weight before you got that far.

Not sure how that would work as the data bus of the 8 bit (CPU) ZX81 was 16 bits. Directly addressable memory was limited to 64Kb.

In the Apple ][ it was done by paging chunks of memory in and out of the addressable space. The upper 16k or so where the ROM lived could be switched out for different language roms or a ram based language card.

The bbc b also has similar pageable extension memory.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #19 on: 17 September, 2021, 06:38:38 pm »
Didn't most calculators then use RPN?
I think my Dad's HP did...
Just HP AFAIK - my Texas TI59 and Sharp / Casio's all used algebraic entry

My classmate had a Texas with algebraic. This might has been a short while after Dad's HP...

robgul

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Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #20 on: 17 September, 2021, 07:20:11 pm »
The printing firm I used to own printed the manual for one of the calculators back in the 1970s - I can remember going to the Sinclair warehouse once and there was a bloke using a shovel to load dud/returned calculators into a skip!

That said I had one of the calculators, silver case if I recall, and it worked fine.

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #21 on: 17 September, 2021, 07:24:48 pm »
There was a 4MB expansion available. Don't remember who made it now, but you bought 32KB (? - may have been 16 or 64k) modules that you could stack up.

I strongly suspect that the whole thing would collapse under it's own weight before you got that far.

Not sure how that would work as the data bus of the 8 bit (CPU) ZX81 was 16 bits. Directly addressable memory was limited to 64Kb.

You mean the address bus - the data bus was 8 bit  :) And in the stock ZX81 the memory map was repeated as they didn't bother decoding the full address bus - so the upper 32k was a mirror of the lower 32k, and the bottom 16k had two copies of the 8k ROM - stuff that needed to be sorted out if you wanted more memory than a 16K expansion.

The Memotech system (pretty sure that was it) paged the upper 32k IIRC, so you couldn't address it as a contiguous block.

Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #22 on: 17 September, 2021, 08:15:38 pm »
In the early '90s Sir Clive visited a BHPC meeting at Eastway. I wonder if he was looking for ideas - I used to have a photo of him riding that Bickerton-based velocino, but I can't find it...


(yes, that's him behind the trailer about to ask questions)
If it ain't broke, fix it 'til it is...

CommuteTooFar

  • Inadequate Randonneur
Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #23 on: 17 September, 2021, 08:28:22 pm »
The first Sinclair device I had was a Science of Cambridge pocket calculator. Post operation entry was facinating to a teenage boy.  The next I product I knew about was a single board microcomputer using the National Semiconductor SC/MP processor. The next product was the much more mainstream ZX80 using a Zilog Z80.
 

ian

  • not a woman, not an american, not a vampire
Re: RIP Sir Clive Sinclair
« Reply #24 on: 17 September, 2021, 08:36:07 pm »
I sat in a C5 the other year (they have one at the London Transport Museum depot in Acton). It wasn't functional and it was very crap, unless you'd entrust yourself to cheap plastic that looked ready to give under my weight (and I'm about 65 kg wet).

I never had a Spectrum, but I did have an Amstrad CPC 464.
Authoritarian Thought Leader, the Pol Pot of Powerpoint, the Stalin of Spreadsheets