View profile

Issue #8 - Clive Sinclair

Heroes of Computer Science
Issue #8 - Clive Sinclair
By Gonçalo Morais • Issue #8 • View online
Welcome to the 8th issue of Heroes of Computer Science! Sorry for hiatus, there was summer vacation and conference talks to prepare to, but we’re finally back for more computer innovators. 🧠 This week we’ll learn about someone that left us recently but made a huge impact on several people currently in tech.

Clive Sinclair
Sir Clive Marles Sinclair (1940 – 2021)
Sir Clive Marles Sinclair (1940 – 2021)
Clive Sinclair was an English entrepreneur and inventor, best known for his pioneering role in the computing industry.
Sinclair spent decades working with electronics, but his biggest contribution came from when he started looking into building personal computers. He believed he could get the price of a system to under £100. In February 1980 the ZX80 priced £79.95/$110 (DIY kit) and £99.95/$140 (already built). It was an instant success and it was closely followed by the ZX81, with an even lower price.
In April 1982, another of his creations was launched, the ZX Spectrum. It was the first computer in the ZX line to support colour output. It remained more affordable than other computers on the market, like the Commodore VIC-20 or Apple II, which raised Sinclair’s profile given the recession and high unemployment in the UK at the time. This system became a popular gift for teenagers and young adults that year, leading a number of these young people learning to program on the ZX Spectrum, making video games inspired by British humour and selling them through word of mouth and mail order. These “bedroom coders”, powered by the ZX Spectrum, were the precursors of the UK’s video game industry.
Throughout the rest of this life, Sinclair had ups and downs with his different companies and inventions. He develop electric vehicles and focused on personal transport, besides personal computers.
Among several honours Sinclair received, he was appointed Knight Bachelor (most ancient sort of British knight) in 1983 for his contributions to the personal computer industry in the UK.
Further reading
If you want a glimpse into the 80s PC landscape and what it took to make the ZX line a reality, check out Creating the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega. Or maybe you’ll be amused to read that, after all these years working in the computing industry, Sir Clive Sinclair doesn’t use a computer at all! If you’re in the mood for something more visual, Micro Men is a 2009 TV movie that focuses on the rivalry between Sinclair (played by Alexander Armstrong), and Chris Curry (played by Martin Freeman), the man behind the BBC Micro.
Micro Men
Did you enjoy this issue?
Gonçalo Morais

A brief newsletter to let you know the wonderful computer scientists that made programming possible!

If you have a suggestion for the next person to highlight, just let us know:

Not fond of more emails? Follow the project through its RSS feed:

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue