Timex Sinclair 1000 (AKA ZX81) TV Commercial

“The power is within your reach” says this 1982 TV Commercial introducing the Timex Sinclair 1000, that is Sinclair ZX81, to US computer users.

Actually, the TS1000 was the US-version of the well-known ZX81, which was selling hot in Europe.
Few changes were made to the ZX81 architecture: 2Kbytes of RAM instead of the standard 1K, NTSC video output instead of PAL and a below-the-case switch for TV-channel.
Besides these features, the two computers were almost identical and ran the very same software.

The $99 price tag was crucial to most users: the TS1000 was actually the very first fully working home computer to sell under $100.

This ignited a price war for US companies like Commodore – its VIC20 street price fell almost immediately, even though somehow related to the Commodore 64 introduction.
According to Timex, some 600,000 TS1000 units were sold in USA: quite a good achievement considering the minimal hardware (compared to other US computers) and the dreaded keyboard.

These are mine, just for comparison: as you can see, it’s almost the same unit.

Sinclair ZX81 + Timex Sinclair TS1000

Fancy a ZX81 online emulator?
Here we are, just click this great Jtyone Online ZX81 Emulator and enjoy full browser-based ZX81 features – along with some games too.

Posted in Advertising, Computer History, Computing history, Retrocomputer, Sinclair, TV ads, Video, Vintage computer, Youtube | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One small step for man… but no escape from customs

On their way back to home on Earth on July 24, 1969, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins could not escape customs.
It’s for real, even though it was a joke back then.

This is the customs form signed by all three Apollo 11 astronauts (including the “Cargo” section stating “Moon rocks“)

apollo 11 customs

Credit: NASA/U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

Posted in Fun, History, Space | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

January 1981: “ZX80 interface micro user”, a vintage computer magazine

For me, it all began with the Sinclair ZX80 I received as a Xmas gift (1981).
I recently purchased this magazine from 1981 (January), it was one of the very few Sinclair-related magazines back then; sometimes you may find similar items such as the original ZX80 manual.

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -1- cover

Edited by Tim Hartnell (quite a famous author of Sinclair Computers’ books) it was self-titled:

The monthly magazine published by the National ZX Users’s Club for ZX80, (later, even ZX81 and ZX Spectrum).

As far as I can tell, it didn’t survive too much other, bigger and less dedicated computer magazines: less than three years should have been published.

The magazine itself has a very simple layout and consists of very few pages; cover story says you’re going to learn a lot about POKEs and PEEKs (common BASIC commands to write/read values from specific memory addresses).

News about the upcoming 8K ROM (ZX80 came in with 4K ROM) were covered with a Sinclair-approved photo:

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -3- ZX80 8K ROM

You’re going to find some listings too: this is a game from Ian Turtle called Stock Market, not exactly a NASDAQ simulator but quite funny indeed:

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -2- high stakes

Another game (of course) is Alien Attack: oddly enough, the original ZX80 was unable to display AND deal with keyboard strokes, so, as stated in the instructions “One command at a time, please gentlemen”!

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -4- alien attack

(… second part follows…)

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -5- alien attack

You can’t think of an early computer magazine without some vintage comics, here’s Interface take on the “new” 8K ROM.

ZX Interface cover - v1-i5 -6- ZX80 fun

I found very little info: just some scans on ZX81.de.

Posted in BASIC, Magazine, Programming, Retrocomputer, Videogames, Vintage computer, Vintage games | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s the story behind QWERTY keyboard layout?

Ever wondered why we’re using such a strange computer keyboard layout as the common QWERTY?

Commodore Plus/4 (1984)

Look at this CNN Money video to get some clue:

More info on QWERTY here on Wikipedia; look here for more detailed info on QWERTY vs. Dvorak or any other fancy layout and a pretty interesting article on “Path dependence” – even on QWERTY keyboards.

Posted in CNN, Computer, Computer History, Computing history, Design, Retrocomputer, Science, Tech industry, Technology, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ZX SpecPhone: an iPhone app enabling ZX Spectrum dialing

A quite simple iOS app enabling phone dialing the ZX Spectrum way by spanish programmer Raul Flores.

ZX SpecPhone

ZX SpecPhone

Pretty old, but it seems still working!

Available for free on iTunes for all Sinclair ZX-Spectrum fans!

Posted in App world, iOS, iPhone, Retrocomputer, Sinclair, Vintage computer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Enter Zooids and build your own little Robot Army !!!

Meet Zooids: a tiny robot-swarm with some pretty features.

The project, by Mathieu Le Goc, Lawrence H Kim, Ali Parsaei, Jean-Daniel Fekete, Pierre Dragicevic and Sean Follmer seems amazing:

This paper introduces swarm user interfaces, a new class of human-computer interfaces comprised of many autonomous robots that handle both display and interaction. We describe the design of Zooids, an open-source open-hardware platform for developing tabletop swarm interfaces.

The platform consists of a collection of custom-designed wheeled micro robots each 2.6 cm in diameter, a radio base-station, a high-speed DLP structured light projector for optical tracking, and a software framework for application development and control.

Posted in AI, Artificial Intelligence, Research, Robot, Robotics, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The vintage alternative to Word Processor

Found this one on the ‘net, couldn’t resist…
It’s an awesome, vintage, alternative to modern Word Processor, don’t you agree?

lead pencil word processor

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Hard Disk price from 1956 to 2016

I recently came across a very interesting page in which John C. McCallum has collected a huge number of hard disk unit specs along with introduction year and price.
Beginning from 1956, with the 24″ IBM sporting a hefty 3.75 MBytes (!) the list goes through time and megabytes up to a 2016-compliant 8TB unit.

hard disk drive prices 1955-2016

I’ve been writing in the past about how much storage has changed in the (recent) past, but is really overwhelming!

As an added feature, here comes a single hard disk platter from 1974 I’ve been recently given: as far as I’ve been able to investigate, it should be some 200 KBytes-per-side unit and the whole hard disk unit featured five of them – up to 2 Megabytes (!).
Measures 36 cm (diameter) and weighs in at 3 Kg… (around 1,18 ft and 6 pounds): you can look at the dwarfed Nokia E61 (which incidentally uses a 256 MB MicroSD)!

vintage 1974 hard disk platter

This a not-so-tiny floptical disk I recently spotted at a vintage computer event (thanks to friend Ezio Bagnis):

Brusaporto 2016

You can find the Hard disk original price table here.

Posted in Computer, Computer History, Computing history, Data storage, Digital media, Electronics, Hardware, IBM, Storage, Tech industry, Technology, Vintage computer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Computer chess”: a 2013 nerd movie about vintage computing – and more…

computer chess movie

I recently watched a 2013-movie: Computer Chess.
To my real shame, I missed it when it was released, some 3 years ago.


It’s very compelling and well-made – and funny too; written and directed by Andrew Bujalski the movie it’s a celebration of the early computing age, nerds and chess-playing.

Lots of vintage computers are featured and you may spot your own favorite…
It’s a black-and-white only indie movie, it’s well worth its 92 minutes!

More details at FastCoCreate.
The movie is available on Amazon too in different formats.


Posted in Chess, Media, Movie, Movies, Retrocomputer, Vintage computer, Vintage games | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment