Timeline of events

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  • 29 January: The ZX80 is released by Sinclair Computers Ltd at an initial price of £79.95 in kit form, and £99.95 for a pre-assembled machine, notably becoming one a very few machines advertised for under £100. The machine includes 1 KB of RAM and a 4 KB ROM containing an Integer-only BASIC (later upgradable to an 8 KB floating-point BASIC ROM after release of the ZX81).


  • March: Sinclair Computers Ltd is renamed to Sinclair Research Ltd.
  • 5 March: The ZX81 is released at an initial price of £49.95 in kit form, and £69.95 for a pre-assembled machine. The machine includes an 8 KB ROM, improved from that of the ZX80 with support for floating-point calculations, and is capable of displaying screen content whilst performing computation, unlike the ZX80 before it.
  • November: The ZX Printer is launched at a price of £49.95. The printer is compatible with the ZX81, and when the ZX Spectrum is later developed, it is designed to maintain compatibility with the ZX Printer.


  • February: Financial disagreements arise between Nine Tiles and Sinclair Research Ltd.
  • 23 April: The original models of the ZX Spectrum are released at the initial price of £125 for the 16 KB model and £175 for the 48 KB model. The machine is compatible with the ZX Printer, and an "RS-232/Network interface board" is promised, which later becomes the ZX Interface 1.
  • April: The magazine Sinclair User is launched by ECC Publications Ltd.


  • July: Sinclair Research Ltd announces that it will begin shipping the ZX Microdrive together with the ZX Interface 1, with the first 1000 units offered specifically to those customers who had ordered the ZX Spectrum upon launch.
  • September: The ZX Microdrive goes on sale, together with the ZX Interface 1.


  • 12 January: The Sinclair QL ("Quantum Leap") is introduced, at £399, and is intended to compete in the business market. Based on a Motorola 68008 CPU with an 8-bit data bus, it comes with 128 KB of RAM and supports the ZX Microdrive (rather than a floppy disk drive). With delivery promised within 28 days, the machine is plagued by production problems, delaying deliveries until April and requiring an external expansion card (the "kludge"/"dongle") holding 16 KB ROM to be used with early machines, needed as the QL's operating system would not fit into the 32 KB of ROM provided internally.
  • January: The magazine Your Spectrum is launched by Sportscene Specialist Press (later renamed to Dennis Publishing in April 1987).
  • February: The magazine Crash is launched by Newsfield Publications Ltd.



  • January: The ZX Spectrum 128 goes on sale in the UK at a price of £179.95. As well as including 128 KB of RAM, it provides a more stable video output (avoiding dot crawl), a AY-3-8912 sound synthesis chip, a Spectrum+ style plastic keyboard, and a tokenising editor intended to be used in preference to the original ZX Spectrum's context-based keyword entry system.
  • January: After 21 issues, Your Spectrum is relaunched as Your Sinclair.
  • 7 April: All Spectrum-related assets and the "Sinclair" brand name are acquired by Amstrad plc.


  • 16 May: The ZX Spectrum +3 is released by Amstrad. It is a major redesign of the original ZX Spectrum 128 and ZX Spectrum +2 models, including an integrated 3″ single sided floppy disc drive and with additional memory paging capabilities to support CP/M and the +3DOS disc operating system. It is housed in a slightly modified version of the +2 case moulding cast in black plastic instead of grey. The "Black +2" appears soon after with an integrated tape drive in place of the 3″ floppy disc drive.


  • December: The SAM Coupé released by Miles Gordon Technology, plc. The machine arrives too late for the Christmas 1989 shopping season, and is plagued by a bugs in the ROM at the time of launch, requiring an updated ROM to be distributed to approximately 8,000 customers.


  • April: Your Sinclair is published under ownership of Future plc for the first time.
  • June: Miles Gordon Technology goes into receivership.


  • May: Crash becomes ostensibly incorporated into Sinclair User as of the 123rd issue. In practice, very little changes in the publication.
  • 15 July: SAM Computers Ltd (SAMCo) goes into receivership.


  • April: The 134th and final issue of Sinclair User is published.
  • September: The 94th and final issue of Your Sinclair is published (not counting the 21 issues of Your Spectrum). The closure effectively marks the end of what was left of the commercial life of the Spectrum.


  • Nine Tiles grant permission for the content of the ZX80 and ZX81 ROM to be distributed under the GNU General Public License, version 2 or later.

See also