I didn't know Clive Sinclair.

I do know what he accomplished.

He broke the cost barrier to entry to a new world. For $99 in 1981 you could have a personal computer kit that allowed you to write code in BASIC... for $149 you could buy the finished computer. This connected to a TV, and a casette deck, and you had not just a learning platform, but one with what would become THE hacker aesthetic.

You could have a $1300 Apple, or this... frankly, looking back... i'm glad I couldn't afford the Apple... this was so much better.

1.5 million of the ZX81 were sold. I had one.

The more hackers I speak to sinceClive's passing, the more I realize how many hackers were born because of his computers. Clive's devices launched thousands of us, and changed the whole world.

I think Clive knew how important those little black boxes with the membrane keyboards were, but I don't know that he knew how big the ripples would be.

My first computer, and people like Weld Pond's too... the L0pht existed because of Sinclair's machine... as well.

From there, the impacts are well documented...

Rest well Sir, you earned it. We'll aspire to titanic things too, and take it from here.

We had that thing the instant it was available. My dad taught me BASIC at age 5. I had just started Kindergarten.

I used to escape in code, even at that age. I would write programs that were simple, a line of X's chasing a Line of H's diagonally across the screen, and I had my own star wars starship battle, learning to store and load code from storage, leaving messages for each other...

Basic forms of things that would evolve over the next decade into me finding BBS's and taking my first steps into this enormous world of neverending discovery.

Clive opened the portal to the. Void of this alternate dimension ... ever so slightly... that we may all make something from it.

We are mighty, because of him.

@thegibson My stepdad and I are supposed to sit down and solder together a z80 kit in the next few weeks.

@thegibson slightly unrelated, my father got started programming in basic on a Tandy. he does arduino now.

@TheGibson I get an overwhelming sense that the man really genuinely had a legacy because there are so many people willing to carry it forward - not *for* him but because they believe in it.

@grimmware This is exactly the case. What he made inspired sooo many to make this world. Not because of him, but what his creation gave us the ability to do.

@TheGibson I'm finally learning some hands-on practical electronics (ROM dumping/flashing, desoldering without breaking shit, designing PCBs, using a scope, learning not to sever traces with a screwdriver when popping out ICs) on an old ZX81.

As a learning platform it still stands up - because of the ULA you've got a circuit diagram that you can look at and map directly to the board you're seeing. Because the built-in keyboard is so terrible there's no fear about breaking it in order to replace it.

Real big ripples!


We ordered one of the ZX80 kits but got an assembled one because there was just so much demand for them. Kinda wish we hadn’t, putting it together was intended to be a bonding exercise with my engineer dad.

Didn’t really learn to program until the c64 though, I can still remember typing in the die-roll program in the back of its users guide several times until something clicked in my head and it MADE SENSE.

@anthracite @TheGibson

I'd typed in a BASIC game called Bobsled that did some basic (heh) animation. I saw it worked but had no idea *how*. And I still remember lying in bed half asleep one morning and the solution just caming to me.

(It was subtracting the boolean result of comparing the current pressed key with the expected value (0 for false, -1 for true) to move the sled left or right.)


As a teenager, I saved money for so long before I could afford one…

Once plugged to a TV, the world has literally changed 💥 for me.

I would like to insist on the fact that the manual 📖 (French version for me) was absolutely the best I ever had the chance to read!

R.I.P., Sir.


This sent me off digging to try to figure out what my earliest computer experience would have been.

Looks like it would've been a 900 Data General ECLIPSE MV.

I remember the lovely shade of green the monitor produced. Matched the town logo.

Dad would take me into the office and set me up on a terminal and I would spend hours punching in keys and trying to see if I could discover what hidden things it could do.

@thegibson I remember Dad hated the transition to Windows because it took away all the general computing tools he had grown used to using on the Data General -- being able to program and automate his work and share those automatons with coworkers vs being locked out and being limited to purchasing vendored products.

@thegibson The introduction of Windows was also the end of computer time for me at the office. It would be several more years before we could afford a PC for home. 😭​

@thegibson I wish to get my hands on a ZX81 one day. Even if just for a moment.

@mgrondin @thegibson There is a thriftshop that has one as a decoration on one of their shelves. I have been tempted to ask if it's for sale


My parents never really *got* how important computers were going to be and it wasn't a priority to them. They were frugal and spending $BIGBUCKS on a C64 was outside of our family's gift budget.

So I saved my money and bought a ZX81. It took kid me something like a year of gift money. They approved of the whole "saving" thing, though.

I learned to program on that little black wedge, which ultimately led to my career. Without Sir Clive, I don't know if that would have happened.

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A bunch of technomancers in the fediverse. Keep it fairly clean please. This arcology is for all who wash up upon it's digital shore.