|Industry|| Computing |
|Founded||Cambridge, England, UK (1973)|
|Headquarters||London, England, UK|
|Sir Clive Sinclair, Founder|
Nigel Searle, Director (1979 to 1986)
Rick Dickinson, Designer
|Products|| Sinclair ZX Spectrum |
|Revenue||£102 million GBP (1985)|
Number of employees
Sinclair Research Ltd is a British consumer electronics company founded by Clive Sinclair in Cambridge. It was originally incorporated in 1973 as Westminster Mail Order Ltd, renamed Sinclair Instrument Ltd, then Science of Cambridge Ltd, then Sinclair Computers Ltd, and finally Sinclair Research Ltd. It remained dormant until 1976, when it was activated with the intention of continuing Sinclair's commercial work from his earlier company Sinclair Radionics, and adopted the name Sinclair Research in 1981.
Sir Clive Marles Sinclair is an English entrepreneur and inventor, most commonly known for his work in consumer electronics in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Cambridge is a university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, England, on the River Cam approximately 50 miles (80 km) north of London. At the United Kingdom Census 2011, its population was 123,867 including 24,506 students. Cambridge became an important trading centre during the Roman and Viking ages, and there is archaeological evidence of settlement in the area as early as the Bronze Age. The first town charters were granted in the 12th century, although modern city status was not officially conferred until 1951.
Sinclair Radionics Ltd was a company founded by Sir Clive Sinclair in Cambridge, England which developed hi-fi products, radios, calculators and scientific instruments.
In 1980, Clive Sinclair entered the home computer market with the ZX80 at £99.95, at that time the cheapest personal computer for sale in the United Kingdom. In 1982 the ZX Spectrum was released, becoming the UK's best selling computer, and competing aggressively against Commodore and Amstrad.
Home computers were a class of microcomputers that entered the market in 1977, that started with what Byte Magazine called the "trinity of 1977", and which became common during the 1980s. They were marketed to consumers as affordable and accessible computers that, for the first time, were intended for the use of a single nontechnical user. These computers were a distinct market segment that typically cost much less than business, scientific or engineering-oriented computers of the time such as the IBM PC, and were generally less powerful in terms of memory and expandability. However, a home computer often had better graphics and sound than contemporary business computers. Their most common uses were playing video games, but they were also regularly used for word processing, doing homework, and programming.
The Sinclair ZX80 is a home computer launched on 29 January 1980 by Science of Cambridge Ltd.. It is notable for being the first computer available in the United Kingdom for less than a hundred pounds. It was available in kit form for £79.95, where purchasers had to assemble and solder it together, and as a ready-built version at £99.95. The ZX80 was very popular straight away, and for some time there was a waiting list of several months for either version of the machine.
The ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit personal home computer released in the United Kingdom in 1982 by Sinclair Research.
At the height of its success, and largely inspired by the Japanese Fifth Generation Computer program, the company established the "MetaLab" research centre at Milton Hall near Cambridge, in order to pursue artificial intelligence, wafer-scale integration, formal verification and other advanced projects. A combination of the failures of the Sinclair QL computer and the TV80 led to financial difficulties in 1985, and a year later Sinclair sold the rights to its computer products and brand name to Amstrad.Sinclair Research Ltd still exists as a one-man company, continuing to market Clive Sinclair's inventions.
In computer science, artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals. Computer science defines AI research as the study of "intelligent agents": any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. More specifically, Kaplan and Haenlein define AI as “a system’s ability to correctly interpret external data, to learn from such data, and to use those learnings to achieve specific goals and tasks through flexible adaptation”. Colloquially, the term "artificial intelligence" is used to describe machines that mimic "cognitive" functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as "learning" and "problem solving".
Wafer-scale integration, WSI for short, is a rarely used system of building very-large ined circuit networks that use an entire silicon wafer to produce a single "super-chip". Combining large size and reduced packaging, WSI was expected to lead to dramatically reduced costs for some systems, notably massively parallel supercomputers. The name is taken from the term very-large-scale integration, the current state of the art when WSI was being developed.
In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
|1988 to 1989||£8K|
|1989 to 1990||£5K|
|1990 to 1991||£5K|
|1991 to 1992||£1K|
|1992 to 1993||£380K|
|1993 to 1994||£511K|
|1994 to 1995||£436K|
|1995 to 1996||£256K|
On 25 July 1961, Clive Sinclair founded his first company, Sinclair Radionics Ltd. in Cambridge. The company developed hi-fi products, radios, calculators and scientific instruments. When it became clear that Radionics was failing, Sinclair took steps to ensure that he would be able to continue to pursue his commercial goals. In February 1975, he changed the name of Ablesdeal Ltd (a shelf company he had bought in September 1973 for just such an eventuality) to Westminster Mail Order Ltd. The name was changed to Sinclair Instrument Ltd in August 1975.
A shelf corporation, shelf company, or aged corporation is a company or corporation that has had no activity. It was created and left with no activity – metaphorically put on the "shelf" to "age". The company can then be sold to a person or group of persons who wish to start a company without going through all the procedures of creating a new one.
Finding it inconvenient to share control after the National Enterprise Board became involved in Radionics in 1976, Sinclair encouraged Chris Curry to leave Radionics, which he had worked for since 1966, and get Sinclair Instrument operational. The company's first product was a watch-like Wrist Calculator.
The National Enterprise Board (NEB) was a United Kingdom government body.
In July 1977, Sinclair Instrument Ltd was renamed Science of Cambridge Ltd.Around the same time, Ian Williamson showed Chris Curry a prototype microcomputer based on a National Semiconductor SC/MP microprocessor and parts from a Sinclair calculator. Curry was impressed and encouraged Sinclair to adopt it as a product. In June 1978, Science of Cambridge launched its MK14 microcomputer in kit form.
A microcomputer is a small, relatively inexpensive computer with a microprocessor as its central processing unit (CPU). It includes a microprocessor, memory, and minimal input/output (I/O) circuitry mounted on a single printed circuit board. Microcomputers became popular in the 1970s and 1980s with the advent of increasingly powerful microprocessors. The predecessors to these computers, mainframes and minicomputers, were comparatively much larger and more expensive. Many microcomputers are also personal computers.
The SC/MP from National Semiconductor is an early microprocessor, which became available in early 1974. The name SC/MP is an acronym for: "Simple Cost-effective Micro Processor".
A microprocessor is a computer processor that incorporates the functions of a central processing unit on a single integrated circuit (IC), or at most a few integrated circuits. The microprocessor is a multipurpose, clock driven, register based, digital integrated circuit that accepts binary data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory, and provides results as output. Microprocessors contain both combinational logic and sequential digital logic. Microprocessors operate on numbers and symbols represented in the binary number system.
In May 1979, Jim Westwood, Sinclair's chief engineer, designed a new microcomputer based on the Zilog Z80 microprocessor. Sinclair Instrument Ltd introduced the computer as the ZX80 in February 1980, as both a kit and ready-built.
In November 1979, Science of Cambridge Ltd was renamed Sinclair Computers Ltd.
In March 1981, Sinclair Computers was renamed Sinclair Research Ltd and the Sinclair ZX81 was launched. In February 1982, Timex Corporation obtained a license to manufacture and market Sinclair's computers in the USA under the name Timex Sinclair. In April the ZX Spectrum was launched. In July Timex launched the TS 1000 (a version of the ZX81) in the United States. In March 1982 Sinclair Research Ltd made an £8.55m profit on turnover of £27.17m, including a £383,000 government grant to develop a flat screen.
In 1982 Clive Sinclair converted the Barker & Wadsworth mineral water bottling factory at 25 Willis Road, Cambridge, into the company's new headquarters. (Following Sinclair's financial troubles, the premises were sold to Cambridgeshire County Council in December 1985.)
In January 1983 the ZX Spectrum personal computer was presented at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. In September the Sinclair TV80 pocket television was launched, but was a commercial failure.
In 1983 the company bought Milton Hall in the village of Milton, Cambridgeshire, for £2m, establishing its MetaLab research and development facility there.
In late 1983 Timex decided to pull out of the Timex Sinclair venture which, due to strong competition, had failed to break into the United States market. However, Timex computers continued to be produced for several years in other countries. Timex Portugal launched improved versions, the TS 2048 and 2068; that company also developed and launched the FDD 3000, a floppy disk system, although it was not well received by the market.
The Sinclair QL was announced on 12 January 1984, shortly before the Apple Macintosh went on sale.The QL was nowhere near as successful as Sinclair's earlier computers. It suffered from several design flaws, and Your Sinclair noted that it was "difficult to find a good word for Sinclair Research in the computer press".
Fully working QLs were not available until late summer and complaints against Sinclair regarding delays were upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority in May of that year. (In 1982 it had upheld complaints about delays in shipping Spectrums.) Especially severe were allegations that Sinclair was cashing cheques months before machines were shipped. In the autumn Sinclair was still publicly predicting it would be a "million seller", and that 250,000 would be sold by the end of the year.QL production was suspended in February 1985, and the price was halved by the end of the year.
The ZX Spectrum+, a repackaged ZX Spectrum with a QL-like keyboard, was launched in October 1984 and appeared in WHSmith's shops the day after release. Retailers stocked the machine in large numbers in expectation of good Christmas sales. However, the machine did not sell as well as expected and, because retailers still had unsold stock, Sinclair's income from orders dipped alarmingly in January. The Spectrum+ had the same technical specifications as the original Spectrum. An enhanced model, the ZX Spectrum 128, was launched in Spain in September 1985, with development funded by the Spanish distributor Investronica.The UK launch of this was delayed until January 1986, because retailers had large unsold stocks of the previous model.
At the January 1985 Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, Sinclair re-entered the United States market, announcing the "FM Wristwatch Radio", an LCD wristwatch with a radio attached.However, the watch had several problems and never went into full production.
Sinclair had long had an interest in electric vehicles, and during the early 1980s he worked on the design of a single-seater "personal vehicle", eventually starting a company called Sinclair Vehicles Ltd in March 1983. He launched the Sinclair C5 electric vehicle on 10 January 1985, but it was a commercial disaster, selling only 17,000 units and losing Sinclair £7,000,000. Sinclair Vehicles went into liquidation later the same year. The failure of the C5, combined with those of the QL and the TV80, caused investors to lose confidence in Sinclair's judgement.
On 28 May 1985, Sinclair Research had announced it wanted to raise an extra £10m to £15m to restructure the organisation. Given the loss of confidence in the company, the money proved hard to find. In June 1985, business magnate Robert Maxwell announced a takeover of Sinclair Research, through Hollis Brothers, a subsidiary of his Pergamon Press.However the deal was aborted in August 1985.
The future of Sinclair Research remained uncertain until 7 April 1986, when the company sold its entire computer product range, and the "Sinclair" brand name, to Amstrad for £5 million.The deal did not include the company itself, only its name and products.
Sinclair Research was reduced to an R&D business and a holding company, with shareholdings in several new "spin-off" companies formed to exploit technologies developed by the main company. These included Anamartic Ltd (wafer-scale integration), Shaye Communications Ltd (CT2 mobile telephony) and Cambridge Computer Ltd (Z88 portable computer and satellite television receivers).
Since 1986, the company has continued to exist, but in a completely different form. In 1993, 1994 and 1995 Sinclair made continuing losses on decreasing turnover. Investors became worried that Clive Sinclair himself was using his own personal wealth to fund his inventions. By 1990 the company's entire staff had been reduced to just Sinclair himself, a salesman/administrator, and an R&D employee. By 1997 only Sinclair himself was working at his company.
In 1992, the "Zike" electric bicycle was released, Sinclair's second attempt at changing people's means of transport. It had a maximum speed of 10 mph (16 km/h), and was only available by mail order. Much like the C5, the "Zike" was a commercial failure, and sold only 2,000 units. In 1999 Sinclair released the world's smallest radio, in the form of the "Z1 Micro AM Radio".
In 2003, the Sinclair "ZA20 Wheelchair Drive Unit" was introduced, designed and manufactured in conjunction with Hong Kong's Daka Designs, a partnership which also led to the SeaDoo Sea Scooter underwater propulsion unit.
July 2006 saw the release of the A-bike, a folding bicycle invented by Sinclair, which was on sale for £200. It had been originally announced two years previously. In November 2010, Sinclair Research announced the X-1 two-wheel electric vehicle, which failed to reach production.
The Wrist Calculator was released by Sinclair Instrument in 1977.
The MK14 (Microcomputer Kit 14) was a computer kit sold by Science of Cambridge of the United Kingdom, first introduced in 1977 for £39.95.
The ZX80 home computer was launched in February 1980 at £79.95 in kit form and £99.95 ready-built.In November of the same year Science of Cambridge was renamed Sinclair Computers Ltd.
The ZX81 (known as the TS 1000 in the United States) was priced at £49.95 in kit form and £69.95 ready-built, by mail order.
The ZX Spectrum was launched on 23 April 1982, priced at £125 for the 16 KB RAM version and £175 for the 48 KB version.
The TV80 was a pocket television. Launched in September 1983. It used a flattened CRT unlike Sinclair's previous portable televisions. The TV80 was a commercial failure selling only 15,000 units and not covering its development costs of £4m.[ citation needed ]
The Sinclair QL was announced in January 1984,priced at £399. Marketed as a more sophisticated 32-bit microcomputer for professional users, it used a Motorola 68008 processor. Production was delayed by several months, due to unfinished development of hardware and software at the time of the QL's launch. Hardware reliability problems and software bugs resulted in the QL acquiring a poor reputation from which it never really recovered.
The ZX Spectrum+ was a repackaged ZX Spectrum 48K launched in October 1984.
The ZX Spectrum 128, with RAM expanded to 128 kB, a sound chip and other enhancements, was launched in Spain in September 1985 and the UK in January 1986, priced at £179.95.
Sinclair created various peripherals for its computers, including memory expansion modules, the ZX Printer, and the ZX Interface 1 and ZX Interface 2 add-ons for the ZX Spectrum. A number of QL peripherals were developed by other companies but marketed under the Sinclair brand. External storage for the Spectrum was usually on cassette tapes, as was common in that era. Rather than an optional floppy disk drive, Sinclair instead opted to offer its own mass storage system, the ZX Microdrive, a tape-loop cartridge system that proved unreliable. This was also the primary storage device for the QL.
In June 1997 Sinclair Research released the X1 radio for £9.50. This miniature mono FM radio, powered by a CR2032 battery, had a fixed volume and was inserted in the ear. The X1 radio had three buttons, an on/off switch, a Scan button, and a Reset button to restart the scanning process. It came with a short length of aerial and a detachable ear hook.
The following computer products were under development at Sinclair Research during the 1980s but never reached production:
Standing for "Low Cost Colour Computer", the LC3 was developed during 1983 by Martin Brennan and was intended to be a cheap Z80-based games console implemented in two chips, using RAM and (non-volatile) RAM cartridges for storage. A multi-tasking operating system for the LC3, with a full windowing GUI, was designed by Steve Berry. It was cancelled in November 1983 in favour of the QL.
Intended to be a 68008-based home computer, equipped with built-in ZX Microdrive, joystick, RS-232 and ZX Net ports. Sinclair's SuperBASIC programming language was originally intended for this model but was later adopted for the QL. SuperSpectrum was cancelled in 1982 after the specification of the ZX83 (QL) had converged with it.This project is not to be confused with Loki, which was described as the "SuperSpectrum" in an article in the June 1986 issue of Sinclair User magazine.
This was to be a portable computer with an integral flat-screen CRT display. Initially to be ZX Spectrum-compatible with a faster Z80 CPU, a built-in ZX Microdrive and a new 512×192-pixel monochrome video mode. Due to the limited size of flat CRT that could be manufactured, a series of folding lenses and mirrors were necessary to magnify the screen image to a usable size. The project was cancelled after the Amstrad take-over, but the Pandora concept eventually transformed into the Cambridge Computer Z88.
This project was intended to create a greatly enhanced ZX Spectrum, possibly rivalling the Commodore Amiga. Loki was to have a 7 MHz Z80H CPU, 128 KiB of RAM, and two custom chips providing much enhanced graphics and audio capabilities. After the Amstrad buy-out in 1986, two engineers who had worked on the project, John Mathieson and Martin Brennan, founded Flare Technology to continue their work.
According to Rupert Goodwins, this was a project to produce an add-on floppy disk drive for the ZX Spectrum.
This codename was assigned to a QL follow-on project running from 1984 to 1986. Among the features associated with Tyche were increased RAM capacity, internal floppy disk drives, the Psion Xchange application suite on ROM, and possibly the GEM GUI.
This name has been associated with a design concept for a "Super QL" based on wafer-scale integration technology.
This was rumoured to be a hypothetical portable version of the QL similar to Pandora.
In November 2010 Sinclair told The Guardian newspaper that he was working on a new prototype electric vehicle, called the X-1, to be launched within a year. "Technology has moved on quite a bit, there are new batteries available and I just rethought the thing. The C5 was OK, but I think we can do a better job now."The two-wheel X-1 was to have been available on July 2011 at the price of £595, but failed to reach production.
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The Sinclair QL, is a personal computer launched by Sinclair Research in 1984, as an upper-end counterpart to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The QL was aimed at the serious home user and professional and executive users markets from small to large businesses and higher educational establishments, but failed to achieve commercial success.
The ZX81 is a home computer that was produced by Sinclair Research and manufactured in Dundee, Scotland by Timex Corporation. It was launched in the United Kingdom in March 1981 as the successor to Sinclair's ZX80 and was designed to be a low-cost introduction to home computing for the general public. It was hugely successful, and more than 1.5 million units were sold before it was discontinued. The ZX81 found commercial success in many other countries, notably the United States where it was initially sold as the ZX-81. Timex manufactured and distributed it under licence and enjoyed a substantial but brief boom in sales. Timex later produced its own versions of the ZX81 for the US market: the Timex Sinclair 1000 and Timex Sinclair 1500. Unauthorized clones of the ZX81 were produced in several countries.
Z88DK is a Small-C-derived cross compiler for a long list of Z80 based computers. The name derives from the fact that it was originally developed to target the Cambridge Z88. Z88DK is much developed from Small-C and it accepts many features of ANSI C with the notable exception of multi-dimensional arrays and prototyped function pointers. Later version also supports SDCC as compiler.
Sinclair BASIC is a dialect of the programming language BASIC used in the 8-bit home computers from Sinclair Research and Timex Sinclair. The Sinclair BASIC interpreter was made by Nine Tiles Networks Ltd.
The Timex Sinclair 1000 (TS1000) was the first computer produced by Timex Sinclair, a joint venture between Timex Corporation and Sinclair Research. It was launched in July 1982, with a US sales price of US$99.95, making it the cheapest home computer at the time; it was advertised as "the first computer under $100". The computer was aimed at regular home users. Unlike earlier computers aimed at home users, the TS1000 was not a kit which had to be soldered and assembled. As purchased, the TS1000 was fully assembled and ready to be plugged into the users' home TV. The TS1000 was a slightly-modified version of the Sinclair ZX81 with an NTSC RF modulator, designed for use with North American TVs, instead of the UK PAL RF modulator which was used for units sold in Portugal. The TS1000 doubled the onboard RAM from 1 KB to 2 KB. The TS1000's casing had slightly more internal shielding but remained the same as Sinclair's, including the membrane keyboard. It had black-and-white graphics and no sound. It was followed by an improved version, the Timex Sinclair 1500 which had substantially more RAM and a lower price (US$80). However, the TS1500 did not achieve market success, given that the marketplace was by this time dominated by Commodore, RadioShack, Atari and Apple.
A chiclet keyboard, or island-style keyboard, is a type of input device for electronic systems such as personal computers, calculators and remote controls that uses keys in the shape of small squares with rounded corners and straight sides, in the style of Chiclets, an American chewing gum brand. A perforated bezel fills the gaps between the keys.
Loki was the codename for a home computer under development at Sinclair Research during the mid-1980s. The name came from the Norse god Loki, god of mischief and thieves. Loki was based on the ZX Spectrum, but intended to rival the Commodore Amiga as a games platform.
Christopher Curry is the co-founder of Acorn Computers, with Hermann Hauser and Andy Hopper. He became a millionaire as a result of Acorn’s success.
The ZX Microdrive is a magnetic tape data storage system launched in July 1983 by Sinclair Research for its ZX Spectrum home computer. It was proposed as a cheaper alternative to the floppy disk, but it suffered from poor reliability and lower speed. The Microdrive technology was later also used in the Sinclair QL and ICL One Per Desk personal computers. The minimum storage capacity of a Microdrive tape cartridge was 85 KB.
Jim Westwood was the chief engineer at Sinclair Research Ltd in the 1980s, starting at the company in 1963. Westwood was the technical mastermind behind many of Sinclair's products and worked there for more than twenty years. Sir Clive Sinclair and Westwood shared a connection even before they met when Westwood had previously worked at an electronics store in London which was owned by Bernard Babani, Sinclair's publisher. This gave Westwood a good degree of familiarity with Sinclair's designs, which prompted him to join Sinclair's fledgling company, Sinclair Radionics. Westwood subsequently had a hand in most of the company's products, including the calculators, audio equipment, ZX Spectrum computers and TV80. He is still designing hardware for Amino Communications, and is a partner in Cambridge Electronics Consultancy.
Artic Computing was a software development company based in Brandesburton, England from 1980 to 1986. The company's first games were for the Sinclair ZX81 home computer, but they expanded and were also responsible for various ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron and Amstrad CPC computer games. The company was set up by Richard Turner and Chris Thornton. Charles Cecil, who later founded Revolution Software, joined the company shortly after it was founded, writing Adventures B through D. Developer Jon Ritman produced a number of ZX81 and Spectrum games for Artic before moving to Ocean Software.
Nigel Searle was the managing director of Sinclair Research Ltd, and one of the company's longest-serving employees. He joined Sinclair Radionics in 1973, and for most of the 1970s, Searle worked for Sinclair in the United States to promote the company's calculators and other products. In 1977, with Sinclair in financial trouble, Searle left the company. He rejoined in 1979 when Sir Clive Sinclair formed Science of Cambridge and continued to work from the US, successfully promoting the ZX80 and ZX81 personal computers. In spring 1982, he moved back to the United Kingdom as Sinclair's managing director, a post he retained until 1986 when Amstrad took over the company's computer business.
Rick Dickinson was a British industrial designer who developed pioneering computer designs in the 1980s. Notable examples of his design work include the ZX81 case and touch-sensitive keyboard and the ZX Spectrum rubber keyboard.
Crystal Computing, later renamed Design Design, was a British video game developer founded in 1982 by Chris Clarke and Ian Stamp while students at the University of Manchester. Graham Stafford, Neil Mottershead, Simon Brattel and Martin Horsley, joined the company as it expanded. The company's first software release was a compilation of games for the Sinclair ZX81, though it was with the ZX Spectrum that Crystal found its greatest success. A deal with the machine's manufacturer Sinclair to distribute Crystal's Zeus Assembler gave the company sufficient funds for a major marketing campaign for their next product, Halls of the Things, an arcade adventure game that became their most successful title.
The Timex Strike was a major industrial dispute which took place in Dundee, Scotland in 1993. The dispute, which was notable for its level of picket-line violence resulted in the closure of the Timex plant in the city after 47 years.
Micro Men, working title Syntax Era is a one-off BBC drama television show set in the late 1970s and the early-mid 1980s, about the rise of the British home computer market. It focuses on the rivalry between Sir Clive Sinclair, who developed the ZX Spectrum, and Chris Curry, the man behind the BBC Micro.
Richard Francis Altwasser is a British engineer and inventor, responsible for the hardware design of the ZX Spectrum.