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The Sinclair ZX80

 

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . .

(It has just struck me that a lot of people won't even recognise that plagiarised quote - the film is getting on for 40 years old!)

Well, OK, at the beginning of the 1980s in the UK, computers were still very much a business tool and "home" computers were almost unheard of. What changed all that was the ZX80 from Science of Cambridge Ltd., otherwise known as Sinclair Research. This tiny machine, based around the Zilog Z80 processor, brought home computing to the world. It was released in the UK in 1979 and was available either as a self build kit for 79.95 or preassembled for 99.95.

Specifications

Processor  Zilog Z80A (or NEC 780-C a Z80A clone)
Clock Speed  3.25 MHz
ROM  4 KBytes
RAM - fitted  1 KBytes
RAM - maximum  16 KBytes (external expansion)
Display  24 lines of 32 characters per line
Colours  Monochrome
Sound  None
I/O Capability  Z80 Bus, RF Out (TV), Cassette Interface
Data Storage  Cassette Tape
Built in languages  Sinclair BASIC

See how Sinclair BASIC compared against competitor machines of the time when running PCW Benchmark tests here.

Launch price (kit / built) 79.95 / 99.95

I never actually owned a ZX80 but reading about them whetted my appetite for computing and led me to buy my first computer, also from Sinclair Research, the ZX81.

Tony Barnett has converted the ZX80 Operating Manual to PDF, it is available here.

Circuit diagram for the Z80, downloaded from F.J. Kraan's website, is available here

As befits its place in computing history, there is a wealth of information available on the internet which describes the ZX80. Check out the sites below for more information :-

Planet Sinclair Covers the full range of products from Clive Sinclair, including the ZX range of computers, including the ZX80.
Wikipedia ZX80 Entry on Wikipedia
Build a ZX80/81 Grant Searle's pages on how to build your own ZX80 or ZX81 from scratch
ZX80 Hardware Description of the ZX80 hardware
ZX Software UK Tony Barnett's store information for Sinclair ZX computers
Old Computers Website dedicated to, yes, old computers
   

 

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