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ScuzzBlog: Diaries June 2019

Entry 11th June 2019: Post 01: Sinclair ZX80 - The beginning of an era

Sinclair ZX80 - The beginning of an era

I was reflecting on the work of Steve Jones and the Checkmate and
found myself puzzling over just how many A500s there were lying
around that users would be willing to extract from their cases
and fit into one of the new Checkmates. Further, are owners of a
1200 likely to split open their cases and fit to another case. It
will be nothing like the days when Checkmate first launched and
were able to ship complete units including the computer.

Anyway, that being said the case supports the various motherboards
so fingers crossed there are worthy doners lying around that can
be used. Just don't throw the cases away... or break them.

Having taken my mind back to the dawning of the ZX80 it was
interesting listening to an interview of an employee of Sinclair
who was around in the early days to learn that many preferred to
buy the complete computer fully assembled. I can well appreciate
this given the question mark home assembly puts on success of
getting a working computer in the first place.

So I was again digging into my Sinclair collection and pulling this
much adapted ZX80 from its storage box. The computer has all the
tell tale signs of being kit assembled. There is a switch on the
case, vent holes drilled in, bracket for the expansion and spacers
to the main upper case providing extra vents to the perimeter.
The keyboard was swapped for the later ZX81 keyboard. It is
impossible to say exactly how the computer was purchased. However
compared to my heavily glass cased ZX80 which stays snug in its
plastic protection, it is obvious that the machine here in these
images has been very well used. 'Very well used'.

I am also playing with video at the moment. Not sure I have the
hang of it but give me some time.

I have never fired up either of the ZX80s and have no intention
of doing so. There are three computers here that I kinda place
in the early kit bracket and that is the KIM-1, ATOM and this
ZX80. Man would I love to go back in time and see just how all
these machines started their lives. I missed out on the ZX80,
basically cus they didn't find their way into my local shop.
But certainly once the ZX81 hit the shelves I just had to buy
one. Saying that, by 1981 I was saving all my pennies to buy a
new VIC20. I so wanted that computer.

Anyhoo.... The ZX80. 'Banged Up' but still very precious.

The ZX80 was available in both kit and pre assembled state. The
computer uses the Z80 CPU with a clock speed of 3.25 MHz. It has
just 1 KB of static RAM and 4KB ROM. There is no sound output on
the unit. Sinclair BASIC was included on the ROM with commands
entered from functions associated from various key combinations.

The case to the ZX80 was originally white and a little brittle.
Overheating was a core issue with the computer along with the
dodgy connector for the RAM expansion.

Amazingly this little beauty was launched in 1980 and heralded
the start of the home computing era for me. I doubt many would
disagree that were interested in computers at the time that this
marked the beginning of everything we enjoy today at home with
computers. Prior to 1980 most computers were stationed in offices
and educational buildings. What is more, is that the computer was
very very cheap for the day, so it really did make computers
accessible for the first time.


Main Computer - Expansions

Sinclair ZX80 - The beginning of an era

What the ???

Same expansion. One in black and white.

Obviously the screw fixing wasn't standard.

Computer knowledge essential


Acorn ATOM

Later peripherals and plug ins. Not
necessarily the work of Sinclair.
Stored in the box for the ZX80.

Sinclair was kinda trying to run
before he could walk... or was it
leap.... Should have gotten some wheels.

Sarcasm ???? You think.

Later endeavours.

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Last updated 11th June 2019

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scuzzscink 2019