TWENTY-TWELVE has been a bumper year for British anniversaries with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the 200th year since the birth of Charles Dickens and the 30th anniversary of a home computer from Cambridge that got generation programming and put Britain at the forefront of the video game industry, an event that had to be celebrated.
Sir Clive Sinclair is probably most well known today for the commercially unsuccessful C5 electric trike, but in May 1979, his engineers began work on the machine that would give rise to the multi-million selling ZX Spectrum. Sinclair was inspired to create a home computer after seeing how much people enjoyed using a TRS-80 but realizing that many people would be put off buying one because of the high price — almost £1,250 in today’s money.
"As far as Clive was concerned, it wasn't a question of what the machine ought to be able to do, but more what could be crammed into the machine given the component budget he'd set his mind on," said Dr. Steven Vickers in an interview in 1985.
Inspired by the public reaction to the ZX81, and annoyed at not winning the contract to design a computer for the British Broadcasting Corporation, Sinclair decided the market needed a budget colour computer. Vickers wrote the software, and the user guide, Richard Altwasser was the hardware engineer, while Rick Dickinson provided the industrial design, and thus the ZX Spectrum, known affectionately as the “pregnant calculator”, was born.
Taking place on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September at Anglia Ruskin University’s Helmore building overlooking the former Cambridge headquarters of Sinclair Research, the 30th birthday party featured this year’s biggest gathering of ZX Spectrum enthusiasts, with visitors travelling from countries including Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
The show was separated into four main areas:
- An exhibition area for people demonstrating current projects
- An competition area for a „SPEC-TANK“ battle, a 4-Player LAN Game with 4 Spectrums
- An area for the remaining Sinclair dealers, magazines, museums and computer clubs presenting their work.
- The 400 seat lecture theatre where there will be a series of presentations and guest talks.
Highlights were the obligatory performance by MJ Hibbet of "Hey Hey 16k", Roelof Koning extensive collection of ZX Spectrum clones from around the world, the talk from veteran games industry developer Steven Goodwin on the issues of digital archeology, and a panel talk including Rick Dickinson.
On sunday there was a real-time gaming competition as well with astonishing results.
The event also had seen the return of the ZX Microfair, originally conceived by Mike Johnston as a way for smaller manufactures to connect directly with enthusiasts. On Saturday those with Spectrums in need of repair could bring them along to the stall run by Ian Gledhill of Mutant Caterpillar Games. Other exhibitors include Rockrabilia, RWAP Software, Rakewell, Retro Fusuion, The Centre of Computing History, and the Retro Computer Museum.
Our aim was to show that great Spectrum-User-Show are still possible. I think we did this. On this website we give you more information about the show, pictures, movies and a review. We hope that more people are now keen on going to such a show and more organizers will now planning one. The Spectrum is not dead, the scene is still very alive.