Category Archives: Sinclair Spectrum

Sinclair ZX Spectrum portable console announced

The Vega+ edge-on (pic Retro Computers Ltd)
The Vega+ edge-on (pic Retro Computers Ltd)

The makers of the popular ZX Spectrum Vega, a ZX Spectrum-compatible games console, today announced the follow-up to their first officially licensed Sinclair-branded product.

The stylish new low-cost console, dubbed the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ is, say Luton-based makers Retro Computers Ltd, ‘The world’s only hand-held LCD games console with 1,000 licensed games inside that can also connect to your TV.’

The PSP-like portable gaming machine, the concept case design of which has been created by original Sinclair computer industrial designer Rick Dickinson,  not only has its own built-in LCD screen, so gamers can dispense with the TV altogether, but a contemporary combination of low-profile joypad and control buttons that promise an even better playing experience than the first in the Vega line.

Sinclair with style

The Vega+ incorporates all the features of the ZX Vega and more, in a more attractive, if a little less nostalgic (no wobbly rubber keys!) package, including stereo output for ‘…great reproduction of gaming sounds and music’. It offers a built-in Micro SD card slot, composite video output (PAL or NTSC) combined with the headphone socket and +- volume buttons.

The Vega+ technology has been designed and developed by a team led by Chris Smith, who, say the company, is the world’s leading expert on the technology behind the 1980’s Sinclair ZX Spectrum range of home computers.

The classic 48k Spectrum computer of the 1980's (pic Wikipedia)
The classic 48k Spectrum computer of the 1980’s (pic Wikipedia)

The name most closely associated with the Sinclair brand and the original Spectrum computers is, of course, the inimitable Sir Clive Sinclair, who said:

“The present surge of interest in retro products inspired me to plan the Vega+ as a handy games console which can be played anywhere.”

There and back again

The Sinclair ZX computer brand name was sold to Alan Sugar’s Amstrad in the late 1980’s; that company later sold it on to Sky In-Home Service Ltd, and the right to use the name was re-licensed back to Retro Computers Ltd, a Luton-based start-up in which Sir Clive’s company, Sinclair Research Ltd, is a shareholder, in 2014.

The Vega+, like the Vega before it, has been designed to reduce costs compared with the original and much-loved ‘Speccy’ by applying modern technology in the form of a fast but low-cost micro-controller which is the heart of the new machines.

Concept design by Rick Dickinson (pic Retro Computers Ltd)
Concept design by Rick Dickinson (pic Retro Computers Ltd)
Crowdfunding

The first Vega successfully went through the crowdfunding process at Indiegogo.com and the new Vega+ has been launched today on the same platform, with a price of £100 GBP plus shipping for the console itself, as well as a range of associated perks including limited edition colours, books, a Roll of Honour, signed art and Spectrum computers, and other options.  For more details see:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-sinclair-zx-spectrum-vega-plus-console#/

Retro Computers Ltd are looking to raise £100,000 within a month to get their latest venture in production and on the market, and the project has certainly hit the ground running, with a prototype all ready to put into production and more than £11,000 raised in a day from over 100 backers already. Their initial aim is to manufacture the first production run of 2,500 units and get ready for the second run. Production and shipping of the first Vega Plus consoles are planned for late summer 2016.

Watch this space

Needless to say, Retro Computing News will be keeping a close eye on the progress of the Vega+ while preparing our review of the original Vega this week.

The new console certainly looks like a device with great potential to grab not only a share of the retro/nostalgia market but also a new market of modern gamers who will not only be able to have a lot of fun with the shiny new gadget, but will hopefully also be encouraged to take an interest in the history and heritage of one of the most iconic brands in British computing.

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New film being made for Sinclair Spectrum fans

Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict banner

Filming is under way for a new documentary,  Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict, a full length feature film (120-180 minutes, est.) which is aiming to take a detailed look at the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, its history, its developers, its games and its fans.

The movie, helmed by author, teacher and filmmaker Andy Remic, has been crowdfunded via a KickStarter campaign, and Mr Remic says:

“It will be a unique tribute to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and have dramatic re-enactments, interviews with industry figures and people who grew up influenced by the Spectrum.”

Andy Remic - author, teacher and filmmaker
Andy Remic – author, teacher and filmmaker (pic Andy Remic)

Andy, who is from Lincoln, England, and is also a published fantasy and science fiction novelist, goes on:

“I’m making the film because, as one friend said, I am “a nerd” and an unashamed fanboy of the Speccy. It’s a not-for-profit film, and I’m making it with lots of love.”

Andy told Retro Computing News that he currently has such industry notables as Jon Ritman, Steve Wetherill, Jas Austin, Oliver Frey, Roger Kean, Simon Butler, Ben Daglish, Mev Dinc and John Romero signed up for the project, with the list growing daily!

Trailer

Anyone interested in the project can view a trailer for the film at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/andyremic/spectrum-addict-2015

Stills

Some early production stills are now online, and can be viewed via this link: Stills

For more info about the project and Andy Remic, check out

www.spectrumaddict.co.uk

www.andyremic.com

RCN REVIEW: DivMMC EnJOY! for Sinclair ZX Spectrum

The DivMMC EnJOY! mates well with Retro Computing News editor Stuart Williams' Sinclair ZX Spectrum +3
The DivMMC EnJOY! mates well with Retro Computing News editor Stuart Williams’ Sinclair ZX Spectrum +3

One of the most useful developments in retro computing and retro gaming in recent years has been the introduction of ‘digital hard drives’, created by means of interfacing digital camera memory cards via custom IDE interfaces, to speed up the use and enable the expansion of many aging but still serviceable computers. This is a great convenience – especially for those machines which were never intended to have such drives!

Of course, ‘back in the day’ – the 1980s-90s – for typical home computers, many programs were available only on slow and not always reliable audio tape cassette, and typically the most advanced storage system for such machines as, for example, the British Sinclair ZX Spectrum range, was nothing better than a microdrive tape loop system or a floppy disk with a few hundred kilobytes of capacity at most.

So it was that the most enthusiastic of home computer owners inevitably ended up with a large collection of tape cassettes or floppy disks, and it was only in the late 1980s, when the 16-bit and PC era began to get underway, that the average user could even think of owning, for example, a whopping great ten or twenty megabyte hard drive!

FLASH – A-HAA!

In recent years, then, a great boon to the growing numbers of retro computing enthusiasts, especially gamers, has been the invention of such very clever, and affordable, compact IDE interfaces. They offer the capability of clipping in a CompactFlash or, more often of late, SD card, with a few electronic components and some clever firmware to provide, in effect, a disc operating system or DOS – thus forming an affordable and high capacity solid state drive system with capabilities which would have been a mere pipe dream in the 1980s.

The enormous advantage of such a system is, of course, that it enables the mass storage of the hundreds, thousands, or – in the case of the Sinclair range, tens of thousands – of games and other programs which, having in many cases been abandoned by their past publishers, many of whom are no longer in business, are readily available online as digital files, in various formats, for use with emulators.

DivMMC EnJOY!
Top and bottom views of the DivMMC EnJOY! in its 3D-printed case
Top and bottom views of the DivMMC EnJOY! in its 3D-printed case

One such system was launched for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum range of computers last year by Ben Versteeg of ByteDelight.com in the Netherlands, who is well-known in the world-wide retro computing community.  It is called the DivMMC EnJOY!

Continue reading RCN REVIEW: DivMMC EnJOY! for Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Get in a jam – Sinclair Spectrum style!

SpeccyJam logo - courtesy SpeccyJam

Coming soon to a cyberspace portal near you is a great worldwide coding event which pays tribute to the spirit everyone’s favourite rubber-keyed wonder, the Sinclair Spectrum home computer, which started the home computer gaming revolution in the 1980s.

#Speccyjam  is a regular world wide one week game jam, where indie game developers come together to create games with the flavour of the famous British 8-bit retro gaming legend – and the next event is on 29 August – 5 September, 2014.

Game developers may work alone or as part of a team, and can use any game engine or dev tools to create their game. It can be developed for ANY device or platform… it doesn’t matter as long as it looks and feels like a Spectrum game!

Your game doesn’t have to run on an actual Spectrum, or an emulator – It can run in whatever environment you are comfortable with, just as long as people can play it when it’s finished.

Find out more at:

www.speccyjam.com

and check out some of last year’s #SpeccyJam games here:

www.speccyjam.com/games/