Sir Clive Sinclair - RIP




Oh no. A character sketch as a pull quote:

His daughter said he never had a pocket calculator as far as she knew, instead carrying a slide-rule around with him at all times.

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Well, I’m never sure, whether it is appropriate to like such a post in order to pay tribute or not.

I think, the most important aspect of his computer related work was that he gave the UK something no other country had, namely blue collar computing, while everywhere else this was much a middle class thing. Which is really remarkable.


So much respect for Sir Clive and his relentless push to keep pushing into a more affordable vision of the future. Glad that we got a taste of living in his world.

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This BBC article includes a video interview with Sir Clive Sinclair, talking about his personal computer days and, of course, the C5.

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Nice! Some quotes:

While doing his A-levels, he designed a circuit for a simple radio which he then commissioned a manufacturer to make up into DIY kits.

The kit was sold through magazines such as Practical Wireless, a publication for which he had already written a number of articles.

Over the following four years, he wrote books on how to construct various electronic devices including radio receivers and transistor circuits.

But while his books sold well, Sinclair was anxious to get back to inventing, and formed his own company, Sinclair Radionics, in 1961.

Copy-pasting a comment I made elsewhere:

From nosher:

Clive Sinclair left the last of the more than dozen schools he had attended in 1958 and opted not to go to university as he felt that “Most of them offered only electronic engineering and I had no desire for such a broadly-based course”. Instead, armed with his self-taught interest in electronics and love of maths and English, he ended up doing four years as a technical author, writing 17 books by 1962.

My first calculator was a Sinclair - an Oxford 300. I think I very vaguely remember the adverts for his kit radios - his thing was radios in the 60s, calculators in the 70s, and computers in the 80s. Not to mention his writings, his tiny TVs, his electric vehicles. Oh, and hi-fi.

Here’s one - “world’s smallest radio” only 59/6 (that’s a tad under £3 for those post-decimal kids.) Also described here. This one is just 2 transistors - an earlier model had 6, the matchbox radio.

I found some of his writings online:
Clive Sinclair’s Transistor Superhet Receivers (98 pages) from 1960.
And a whole bookshelf of PDFs here on WorldRadioHistory, including Modern Transistor Circuits for Beginners from 1962 (43 pages).


Since people in other countries cloned his machines, his contributions were not limited to the UK. He did export and did joint ventures (like with Timex in the US) but I am not sure if that had as much impact as the clones, except in Spain.

I just read that Douglas Adams wrote Last Chance to See on a Z88. “A new kind of computer to revolutionise the way you work” (and it had a BBC Basic with an embedded Z80 assembler)

Edit: 64000 Z88s sold, more or less.


Someone I dated in the late 80s had the Australian version of the Sinclair QL, marketed by the local phone monopoly at the time (I struggled to remember the details, luckily search engines to the rescue - Sinclair's FORGOTTEN Australia-only micro revealed! • The Register)