Category Archives: ZX Spectrum Next

ZX Spectrum Next may get Professional Adventure Writer

 

Rick Dickinson-designed Spectrum Next concept-rendering
Rick Dickinson-designed Spectrum Next concept-rendering

The recent Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new Next Generation Sinclair ZX Spectrum 8-bit home computer has certainly stirred up a massive amount of interest in the retro computing community, and a number of past and present developers for the original 1980s British home computer, affectionately dubbed the ‘Speccy’ by fans, have begun to surface, interested in the potential of the  ZX Spectrum Next, which has been fully funded on Kickstarter and is expected to be released in January 2018.

Cassette-based original version of the PAW
Cassette-based original version of the PAW

Great news for Spectrum-loving fans of adventure games in particular is that now Tim Gilberts, founder of legendary 1980s Welsh software developers and publishers Gilsoft International Ltd, has thrown his hat in the ring, expressing strong interest, subject to discussion with the former Gilsoft team,  in adapting the now-defunct company’s adventure game generation software the Professional Adventure Writer (aka The PAW or The Professional Adventure Writing System ) to the Next, with its modern SD card storage system and other updated facilities.

Gilsoft were best known for The Quill and the PAW, both of which were popular systems in their day, enabling the simplified creation and coding of text and graphical adventures on a number of 8-bit home computers. The Quill in particular was used by a number of independent developers to create and publish text adventure games, as did Gilsoft itself.  Continue reading ZX Spectrum Next may get Professional Adventure Writer

New Sinclair ZX Spectrum Next fully funded

Rick Dickinson-designed Spectrum Next concept-rendering
Rick Dickinson-designed Spectrum Next concept-rendering

Hot news today is that the new Sinclair ZX Spectrum Next home computer which was launched on Kickstarter in the early hours of Sunday morning to mark the 35th birthday of the original Spectrum produced by Sinclair Research has been  fully funded in less than 48 hours.

At the time of posting, the project had raised £250,534 pledged of its £250,000 goal, funded by 1,160 backers – and with 28 days of the campaign still to go!  It seems that for Speccy fans, a quality project, run by skilled, friendly and accessible people really does mean the sky is the limit for the new kid on the Sinclair block.

21st century Speccy

Dubbed the ‘Sinclair ZX Spectrum Next’ by new UK manufacturers SpecNext Ltd, this 21st century Speccy looks both backward to a glorious gaming past and forward to what is hoped to be a bright new future, by combining a slick modern take on the classic Spectrum+ exterior design, which is once again created by original Spectrum designer Rick Dickinson, this time around with powerful modern electronics designed by gifted Brazilian retro hacker Victor Trucco.

The big question now is – how much will the Spectrum Next raise by the end of its campaign?  We hope to see the latest prototype in operation very soon, and will report back.  Watch this space!

For the full story behind the machine and its creators, and the link to the Kickstarter campaign plus other details, see yesterday’s post in RCN.

The latest pre-production fully working prototype board

Images courtesy SpecNext Ltd

New home computer marks Sinclair ZX Spectrum’s 35th

Spectrum Next concept side rendering by Rick Dickinson
Spectrum Next concept side rendering by Rick Dickinson

A brand-new Sinclair Spectrum home computer for the 21st century has been launched, in the early hours of this morning – just in time to celebrate the 35th birthday of the legendary original Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k which was launched on 23rd April 1982 – 35 years ago today.

Dubbed the ‘Sinclair ZX Spectrum Next’ by new UK manufacturers SpecNext Ltd, the new kid on the Sinclair block looks both backward to a glorious gaming past and forward to what is hoped to be a bright new future, by combining a slick modern take on the classic Spectrum+ exterior design, which is once again created by original Spectrum designer Rick Dickinson, this time around with powerful modern electronics designed by gifted Brazilian retro hacker Victor Trucco.

The latest ‘Speccy’ to hit the market looks like it’s going to be a hot product – though we will have to wait a while yet before the real thing is available, as the delivery estimate is currently January 2018. One thing is for sure, there is certainly a demand for the Next, as evidenced by the raising of more than £157,000 for the project on Kickstarter in just 11 hours so far.  As of the time of posting, there are 709 backers, and 29 days to go to raise the £250,000 goal.

Henrique Olifiers shows off a Spectrum Next development kit board which he demonstrated at Revival Solstice 2016 (pic Stuart Williams)
Henrique Olifiers shows off a Spectrum Next development kit board which he demonstrated at Revival Solstice 2016 (pic Stuart Williams)

Also behind the project are Brazilian computer scientist and key figure in the MSX hardware scene in Brazil Fabio Belavenuto, plus celebrated British ZX Spectrum developer Jim Bagley, who is responsible for several of the Next’s new functions and drives the platform’s development requirements. The company has its registered office at 135 Bermondsey Street, London, and was incorporated on 9 February 2016 by game designer Carlos Henrique Olifiers, Co-Founder of BAFTA-winning games developers Bossa Studios, who is the project’s front man and chief evangelist here in the UK.

An early Spectrum Next prototype board built by Victor Trucco was seen in Walsall at Revival Solstice 2016 (pic Stuart Williams)
An early Spectrum Next prototype board built by Victor Trucco was seen in Walsall at Revival Solstice 2016 (pic Stuart Williams)

Continue reading New home computer marks Sinclair ZX Spectrum’s 35th

Sinclair ZX Spectrum Next board demonstrated

Spectrum Next concept rendered in white
Spectrum Next concept rendered in white

Following our previous post about the announcement of a new, modern technology Sinclair Spectrum retro computer, the ZX Spectrum Next, by UK company SpecNext Ltd, the designer of the Next’s electronics, Mr Victor Trucco, has posted a video demonstration of the Next’s prototype electronics, showing the majority of the commercial board’s proposed features.

The video is narrated by Mr Trucco in Portuguese and subtitled in English.

We thought you’d be keen to see this as an update, and so are we, so here it is!

We now also have confirmation that HDMI output will be via a Raspberry Pi Zero built into the case.

For full details of the new computer, check out our original post here:  Sinclair Spectrum – the Next generation!

Sinclair Spectrum – the Next generation!

Spectrum Next concept rendering by Rick Dickinson
Spectrum Next concept rendering

Things seem to have gone a little crazy on the retro computing front lately, what with new retro consoles and computers coming out of the woodwork all over the place – and the latest and possibly most amazing of all is a brand-new Sinclair ZX Spectrum, from yet another new manufacturer!

This latest homage to Sir Clive Sinclair’s classic ZX Spectrum+ has been dubbed the ‘Sinclair ZX Spectrum Next’ by new UK manufacturers SpecNext Ltd.  The company has its registered office at 135 Bermondsey Street, London, and was incorporated on 9 February 2016 by Carlos Henrique Olifiers, Co-Founder of BAFTA-winning games developers Bossa Studios,.

And, by combining a slick modern take on the classic Spectrum+ exterior design, once again created by original Spectrum designer Rick Dickinson, with powerful modern electronics designed by Brazilian Victor Trucco, the latest ‘Speccy’ to hit the market looks like it’s going to be a hot product – though we will have to wait a while yet before the real thing is available.

A Speccy for all seasons?

Apparently officially licensed through intellectual property holders Sky In-Home Service Limited. the ZX Spectrum Next is clearly an upgraded homage to the classic 1980s micro rather than a traditional chip-by-chip clone.

Despite this the concept, which to date has been seen only in 3D renderings, seems to have been well-received amongst the ‘retro community’ so far, perhaps due the fact it is being pitched as a development to take the Sinclair brand into the future – and due to its adoption of the modernised Spectrum+ style case and keyboard, unlike the popular but sometimes controversial Vega range of hand-held consoles produced by Retro Computers Limited, who at the last count had decided against reviving an actual Spectrum computer.

The TBBlue by Mr Victor Trucco
The TBBlue by Mr Victor Trucco
The ZX Spectrum Next is based on Victor Trucco’s previous project, the TBBlue, and the Altera Cyclone FPGA-based board which will form the heart of the next Speccy is expected to be similar.

The Next is a reimplementation of the original at hardware level, ensuring it runs all the software out there. And it´s also planned to be compatible with most expansions made for the ZX Spectrum, as well as being compatible with new ULAplus video modes. There is also a possibility of implementing ZX81 hi res mode before the first units ship.

The SD card ‘disk’ operating system used is ESXDOS, and the new machine will be compatible with all the original Sinclair ZX Spectrum versions including 48k, 128k (Toastrack), +2 and +3.

In fact, amazingly, the Spectrum Next will also be compatible with Brazilian Speccy clones the  TK90X and TK95, as well as the Sinclair ZX80, ZX81, and Jupiter Ace!

Sexy specs for the Speccy Next?
Spectrum Next concept rear rendering
Spectrum Next concept rear rendering

The following equivalent specifications for the new computer have been revealed so far:

  • Processor Z80 3.5Mhz and 7Mhz modes
  • Memory  512Kb RAM
  • Video  ULAplus featuring compatible and expanded modes and colours
  • Video output  RGB, VGA, mini HDMI
  • Storage  SD card slot, with DivMMC-compatible protocol
  • Tape support  Mic and Ear ports for cassette tape loading and saving
  • Audio  AY-3-8912 or FM2149 audio chips (selectable) with stereo output
  • Joystick port  DB9 compatible with Interface 1 or Interface 2 protocols (selectable)
  • PS/2 port  Mouse with Kempston mode emulation OR external keyboard
  • Extras  Multiface functionality for memory access, save games, cheats etc
  • Expansion  Original Spectrum external bus expansion port
  • Accelerator slave board  GPU/1Ghz CPU/512Mb RAM
Spectrum Next concept side rendering
Spectrum Next concept side rendering
Any colour you like as long as it’s black (or white)
Spectrum Next concept rendered in white
Spectrum Next concept rendered in white

The very attractive modernised design of the Spectrum Next may also be offered in traditional Spectrum black – or white! Not really surprising this as there’s been much interest from retro hobbyists in DIY modded white versions of the classic Speccy. So it looks like buyers will probably have the option to buy a black or white cased Spectrum Next, or indeed both. Pretty smart-looking either way, judging by the

Not really surprising this, as there’s been much interest from retro hobbyists in DIY modded white versions of the classic Speccy.  So it looks like buyers will probably have the option to buy a black or white cased Spectrum Next, or indeed both. Pretty smart-looking either way, judging by the renderings published so far.

HDMI through Pi

It’s been suggested that the HDMI out video option will be given by passing the output through a Raspberry Pi computer, possibly a Pi Zero, built-in to the Spectrum Next casing, though this is unconfirmed as yet.  Update 2 May 2016: we now understand the HDMI output is definitely planned to be via a Pi Zero.

Crowdfunding

Apparently the ZX Spectrum Next project is to be crowd funded, a popular method amongst new retro console and computer manufacturers. This has not yet been set up and we will follow this up in due course.

Company website

A preliminary website has been set up, but as yet shows very little. It does, however, offer the opportunity to sign up for a newsletter and further information:

http://www.specnext.com/

Facebook

There is also already a ZX Spectrum Next group on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/237301699960491/

Conclusion

The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Next looks like a very exciting product, with a lot of potential, and we will be following the project closely. Watch this space!

Update 2 May 2016

Mr Trucco has now placed a video demonstration of the Next’s protoype electronics online – see our latest post about this exciting new machine: Sinclair ZX Spectrum Next board demonstrated 

Rendered images shown here are reproduced courtesy of SpecNext Ltd and Mr Victor Trucco, with thanks.