Nottingham

Remodelled ZX Spectrum production set to begin

Spectrum Vega
Image caption The new ZX Spectrum Vega features an SD card slot and joypad controls

Production is set to start on a remodelled version of the ZX Spectrum, which will come pre-installed with 1,000 classic game titles.

Nottinghamshire firm SMS Electronics will manufacture the Sinclair Spectrum Vega at its Beeston factory.

The machine, which has been developed by Luton-based Retro Computers, is due to go on sale in April.

Sir Clive Sinclair, who launched the original ZX Spectrum computer in 1982, is backing the venture.

Mark Goldby, managing director of SMS Electronics, said he was hoping for "big things" from the new machine.

He said: "I am absolutely delighted our company has been involved in this project.

"If it sells anywhere near as well as the original ZX Spectrum that could bring massive employment opportunities for us here.

"If you are a diehard graphics fiend then you are probably not going to get too excited - but this is all about the games, which are extremely addictive.

"We have a queue of technicians waiting for a chance to test it."

Production is set to start in February.

Although emulators exist to allow smartphones and computers to play Spectrum games, the Vega has the advantage of being easy to plug into a TV. It also comes pre-installed with software, meaning users do not have to hunt around on the net for titles that they are unlikely to have the rights to copy.

However, the machine lacks a built-in keyboard, offering an on-screen one instead. That makes it ill-suited for coding, unlike the original models.

Image caption Sir Clive's ZX Spectrum computers inspired thousands of people to learn to program
Image caption Daley Thompson's Decathlon was one of the most popular titles on the original machine

Dr David Levy, chairman of Retro Computers, said details of the 1,000 titles to come pre-installed on the machine were still being finalised.

However, he promised they would include many of the best-selling games from the 1980s.

The firm, which has Sir Clive as a shareholder, is also making arrangements with the owners of the software rights to Spectrum games to donate a combined software royalty to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital.

The first run of 1,000 machines has been financed by a crowdfunding campaign - which offered people the chance to have their names included on a roll of honour installed on them.

The Spectrum Vega has been designed to run all 14,000 of the original games, developed during the years when some five million Sinclair ZX Spectrums were sold.


The original ZX Spectrum

  • Clive Sinclair launched the original ZX Spectrum computer in 1982.
  • Some credit it as the machine that launched the UK IT industry and it helped to earn Clive Sinclair a knighthood for services to British industry.
  • Its price at launch was £125 for the basic model with 16 kilobytes of RAM, or £175 for the 48k model.
  • In comparing the Spectrum to another popular machine, the BBC Micro Model A, Sir Clive said: "We believe the BBC makes the best TV programmes - and that Sinclair makes the best computers".
  • Sir Clive even featured in one of the titles - called A Day in the Life (pictured above).
  • The first ZX Spectrum was famed for its rubber keys.
  • Users had to type commands to load games via a cassette player - the original machines had a shortcut key.

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