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Nostalgic For the ZX Spectrum? Soon You Can Play With a New One

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the one-hand-tied-behind-your-back dept.

Hardware 91

An anonymous reader writes "There is a very interesting project underway to recreate the ZX Spectrum and more. The Bluetooth ZX Spectrum has been successfully crowdfunded, and it is due to go on sale in September 2014. If you want to go back to the 1980s — to the wonderful era of 8-bit gaming, you can instead try one of the many ZX Spectrum emulators." I remember being excited at the new Sinclair when my dad brought it home, but my strongest memory now is of what might be the worst keyboard I've ever had the chance to use.

cancel ×

91 comments

It's a keyboard (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46317725)

The article doesn't even appear to mention the official page of the crowdfunding campaign, which is this Kickstarter campaign [kickstarter.com] . It turns out not to be a hardware recreation of the Spectrum's logic, just a rubber keyboard for use with emulators.

Re:It's a keyboard (5, Informative)

RDW (41497) | about 5 months ago | (#46317827)

The article also doesn't mention the controversy about Elite Systems and their apparent failure to pay the developers they are making money off:

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/a... [gamesindustry.biz]

Re:It's a keyboard (1)

plover (150551) | about 5 months ago | (#46318079)

Could it be worse than the Surface keyboard?

Re:It's a keyboard (2)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 5 months ago | (#46319587)

Could it be worse than the Surface keyboard?

...and now we need a "+1 Rhetorical" mod...

Re:It's a keyboard (2)

plover (150551) | about 5 months ago | (#46319591)

To whoever marked this comment overrated, I'll have you know I'm typing it on a Surface. The flat keyboard is in no way a joy to type on. The chiclet keyboard is somewhat better, but the track pad and mouse buttons are still awful. The Sinclair keyboards were awful, but this is 30 years newer, so there's no excuse.

Re:It's a keyboard (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 5 months ago | (#46318121)

...doesn't even appear to mention the official page of the crowdfunding campaign [kickstarter.com]

A direct link the the page...? You must be new here.

Re: It's a keyboard (1)

LocalH (28506) | about 5 months ago | (#46318413)

You just said that to tepples, one of the more prolific commenters on here.

Re: It's a keyboard (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 5 months ago | (#46327273)

Whoosh!

Re:It's a keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46323095)

You're newer.

Re:It's a keyboard (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46318333)

It turns out not to be a hardware recreation of the Spectrum's logic, just a rubber keyboard for use with emulators.

So it's the most important part of the whole Spectrum experience? ;-)

Re:It's a keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46319613)

Yeah... I was scratching my head trying to figure out what they meant when they kept saying bluetooth. Now it makes sense. Yeah, not thanks. I'd buy a whole ZX spectrum, but have no interest in just a keyboard.

Re:It's a keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46319899)

Actually it's not even a keyboard. It only works with the company's emulator app, which is also a sales platform for old games, for which they don't pay royalties.

Not the worst keyboard (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46317733)

If you think the ZX Spectrum has the worst keyboard, then you've clearly never used a ZX81 ...

Re:Not the worst keyboard (2)

mrbester (200927) | about 5 months ago | (#46318183)

Indeed. Moving from the membrane ZX81 to a Spectrum 48K spongy keyboard was like a breath of fresh air. Still rubbish compared to the Sharp MZ80K I had access to even though the graphics were better

Re:Not the worst keyboard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46319749)

I reckon the Oric 1's membrane keyboard was a lot better. Especially the later Oric Atmos keyboard was exceptionally good. These Oric models were the direct competitor to the ZX Spectrum (price/features/performance/target-audience).

IMHO I would rather have an Oric Atmos style keyboard than that ZX Condom one. the Atmos also looked very posh with its black/red colour scheme and futuristic appearance.

Then there's the fact that after awhile the metal frame on top came loose. Sorry but I definitely haven't jolly memories with the standard Speccy. Now that DK Tronics keyboard that I bought later was a whole other story...but that's another story indeed ;-)

Re:Not the worst keyboard (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about 5 months ago | (#46318307)

I pressed dents into my old ZX81 keyboard until it stopped working.
Then I used the ZX81 as a door wedge.

Re:Not the worst keyboard (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 months ago | (#46318367)

If you think that ZX81 has the worst keyboard, then you've clearly never used an IQ-151. ;-)

Re: Not the worst keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46319263)

I've just looked at the pics, I take there's brail on the keys for the blind?

Re:Not the worst keyboard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46319359)

One of my pet projects back then (eons ago!) was a hardware keyboard. Can't remember well, but I recall buying conventional buttons for electric equipment, which probably had transparent caps, instead of computer keyboard keys. The result was not too big, because the ZX81 had few keys. Worked like a charm, but it was near the end of my experiences with that wonderful machine.

Sir Clive, God bless you and your house. May all the happiness you caused come back to you several times.

This guy surely deserved a movie, but I guess he's like Wozniak and people love guys like Jobs...

Re:Not the worst keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46320637)

They did make a movie.. At least a TV movie. BBC made a great little show featuring the war between Sinclair and Acorn called Micro Men [bbc.co.uk] . It was well done, IMO.

Re:Not the worst keyboard (1)

Lazarian (906722) | about 5 months ago | (#46322861)

I remember back in the day that at least a couple electronics hobby magazines had articles showing how to upgrade the ZX81 keyboard using surplus keyboards meant for a failed computer from Texas Instruments called the TI99-2. They were pretty decent, well made units that were easy to rewire and sold for ten bucks. I don't think I got around to hooking it up though. Memories...

Re:Not the worst keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46331315)

I live in Canada. Every now and then I'd find a British (thank gawd for you guys) zx81 magazine and voraciously read it. I got one that showed how to wire a real keyboard into the zx81. I bought an old air canada terminal keyboard, rewired it (every key had lugs), hooked up the zx81 and my keyboarding sped up dramatically. Buying that computer back then was one of the smartest things I've ever done....laid the foundation for a career that relies on computer knowledge all the time...helped me learn php and to program interactive websites (useful for my research work in science education) starting a decade ago. I owe Clive Sinclair a huge debt.

Re:Not the worst keyboard (1)

dccase (56453) | about 5 months ago | (#46319429)

I didn't have one of those new-fangled ZX81's, but I thought the keyboard on my ZX-80 was adequate.
It's not like you were going to type a book on it. The programming environment was elegantly terse.

Mine still works - as well as it ever did. It will work until there are no more TVs with the right inputs.

Re:Not the worst keyboard (1)

Ambient Sheep (458624) | about 5 months ago | (#46321109)

If you actually have a working ZX80, you do realise it's worth quite a lot of money these days, don't you? Not that I'd sell mine if I had one (I "only" have my old ZX81 and ZX Spectrum (not to mention a QL mouldering in an attic somewhere)) but just to let you know that you should take good care of it...

Re:Not the worst keyboard (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 5 months ago | (#46321663)

Or the Microsoft Surface keyboard...

Re:Not the worst keyboard (1)

hack slash (1064002) | about 5 months ago | (#46324403)

What about the Psion Organiser II with its keys arranged as

ABCDEF
GHIJKL
MNOPQR
STUVWX
YZ

Not easy when you're used to QWERTY.

Re:Not the worst keyboard (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 months ago | (#46324673)

I'd rather type on my old ZX81 than on my Android. Typing on glass sucks.

keyboard... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46317747)

The keyboard wasn't that bad. Sort of like many Apple keyboards. Ok, both are really bad.

Re: keyboard... (2)

Crookdotter (1297179) | about 5 months ago | (#46317765)

I remember the keyboard being fast to type BASIC on as it was keywords.

Keyword completion (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46317895)

Don't modern IDEs with tab completion have a similar effect?

Re:Keyword completion (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46318863)

No, on the Spectrum each keyword had its own key. Keywords, even operators like <= were stored as single bytes with codepoints above 0xA0. This made for more efficient storage of programs. In comparison, on the VIC-20 keywords were stored literally, but you could abbreviate them, e.g. ? for PRINT or pO for POKE. Of course this wasn't how it appeared on the screen. On the screen an abbreviated GOSUB would be GO[heart], and you had to RTFM [archive.org] to find out that GO-heart means GOSUB. I found the Spectrum's solution much more elegant. But of course I had to because I had a Spectrum and there was a religious war going on.

Re:Keyword completion (2)

Chysn (898420) | about 5 months ago | (#46322273)

> In comparison, on the VIC-20 keywords were stored literally, but you could abbreviate them, e.g. ? for PRINT or pO for POKE.

No, VIC-20 (and C64, PET, etc.) keywords were tokenized. That is, "POKE" took a single byte rather than four.

Re:Keyword completion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46322707)

No, on the Spectrum each keyword had its own key.

Yeah, that's why it is called keyword. ;-)

Although it's not really true that the keywords had their own key (with only 40 keys, that wouldn't have been possible); rather each key had several meanings assigned to it (IIRC up to 6), depending on the current mode (some of which you could specifically activate, while others depended on the current position in the line; for example if you were at the beginning of a line, you couldn't simply enter a letter; it would produce a keyword instead).

But I have no idea where your "GO[heart] comes from; my ZX Spectrum didn't eve have a [heart] character to display, and GOSUB was displayed as "GO SUB " (yes, with a space in the middle, and another one on the end).

How about the CBM 5190 calculator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46317753)

How about an emulation of the CBM 5190 calculator?
It was my mainstay for years, until its battery failed (after CBM went under).

Shame it looks like it'll collapse (5, Informative)

Molt (116343) | about 5 months ago | (#46317773)

The people behind the Kickstarter seem to be defaulting on agreements to pay royalties [polygon.com] to the developers of the games they're bundling, and not really responding well to questions asking them why [kickstarter.com] , which isn't a great start.

Re:Shame it looks like it'll collapse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46318945)

The people behind the Kicstarter are being extorted by the developers of the the abandonware games. The developers think that they should be still be getting paid for something they did 20 years ago.

Fucking copyright is so...wrong. Let's all do just one thing in our lives and then charge generations after generations, forever into the future, to use our invention. That's progress, right?

Re:Shame it looks like it'll collapse (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46321719)

Explain to me how you think it's OK for the people behind the Kickstarter project to make money from something someone else did 20 years ago, but not the people who did the actual work 20 years ago?

Re:Shame it looks like it'll collapse (1)

Molt (116343) | about 5 months ago | (#46321819)

On the Kickstarter's page the video has a segment with Peter Dickinson, the original Industrial Designer for the Spectrum, and so I assume that either he was just happy to see his work get a new life or is receiving money himself from the Kickstarter. Basically if he's happy for his work to be used like this so am I, although I do assume similar agreements have been made with other SInclair folks up to and including Sir Slive.

Charlatans (0)

Alioth (221270) | about 5 months ago | (#46317791)

Don't count on it.

Those behind the Kickstarter have already failed to pay the developers of games they used in their iOS emulators (despite signing contracts etc.). The company has liabilities almost as big as the Kickstarter and few assets. They still haven't demonstrated a real prototype (it wouldn't have been that hard for them to show an actual rubber key Spectrum case driving a Bluetooth HID module, but all that's been shown is a retail POS keyboard driving some emulated games).

I hope I'm wrong but I seriously doubt this will ever see the light of day.

overheat (3, Insightful)

rknop (240417) | about 5 months ago | (#46317797)

I remember getting one of those when I was 10 or 11. First generation. All excited to finally have a computer. But I couldn't leave it on for more than an hour or two before it would just crash because it had overheated. Too frustrating to use. We sent it back before the necessary 10 days had passed.

I was sad.

Later (within the year? I don't remember) I got a Vic-20; a couple of years later, a Commodore 64. Then, in college, a Commodore 128. Those guys worked much better for me than the Sinclair ZX ever did.

Re:overheat (2)

Alioth (221270) | about 5 months ago | (#46317829)

Now those old crashy Issue 1 Spectrums are worth a great deal of money (the later (and much more numerous) more reliable ones aren't worth nearly as much)

Re:overheat (1)

RDW (41497) | about 5 months ago | (#46318723)

Mine (not quite that early) had a bug that gave the wrong colours with our (Hitachi?) TV. According to Sir Clive, this was the fault of the TV manufacturer for 'not following standards'. Expecting Sinclair to test the Spectrum hardware with a range of commonly used televisions before release was, of course, completely out of the question...

I originally had the 16k model, partly funded by the refund from a ZX81 (actually two in succession) that had conveniently died - QC was not Sinclair's strong point. Increasing this to a (massive!) 48k was my first experience of an internal hardware upgrade, with chips bought from some mail order supplier that advertised in the back of Sinclair User. They were buggers to insert (an uncle with electronics experience was enlisted to help force them into place without trashing anything).

Re:overheat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46321607)

My Linux distro had a bug that didn't output on my (AMD?) graphics card. According to Linus Torvalds, this was the fault of the card manufacturer for 'not following standards'. Expecting Ubuntu to test the distribution with a range of commonly used graphics cards before release was, of course, completely out of the question...

Re:overheat (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about 5 months ago | (#46322525)

Had a friend who upgraded his to 48K it later broke down and he sent it back for repair. They sent back a brand new 16K model :)

Re:overheat (1)

shippo (166521) | about 5 months ago | (#46323309)

My Issue 2 Spectrum exhibited exactly the same problem when connected to one of our TV sets. The issue was due to the PAL colour signal, in particular the fact that the phase of one part of the colour signal is reversed on each alternate line. On decoding the signal the TV simply inverted the phase of the wrong lines, resulting in red and green components of the picture getting mangled. Of course these decoding errors were down to the Spectrum's signal not adhering to the PAL specifications properly. A previous TV set of ours would sometimes do something similar when handling a standard broadcast signal - switching channels was enough to reset the decoder to its correct operation.

Re:overheat (0)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 5 months ago | (#46319133)

I bought one myself. Utter crap. Like you I returned it in a few days.

Later when the Commodore 64 came out I was much happier.

Not the worst keyboard unless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46317839)

You never used an Atari 400 keyboard then.

Re:Not the worst keyboard unless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46321853)

You never used an Atari 2600 keyboard then.

If you want a real one... (5, Informative)

Alioth (221270) | about 5 months ago | (#46317855)

If you want to build a modern recreation of the Speccy (absolutely timing perfect too) there's a clone called the Harlequin which was designed by a guy who recently reverse engineered the ZX Spectrum's Ferranti ULA and wrote a book about it. The book's great:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-ZX... [amazon.co.uk]

There's a thread on World of Spectrum Forums - a German member has arranged to get the components and PCBs to make a kit. He may still have a few going if you jump in soon:

http://www.worldofspectrum.org... [worldofspectrum.org] (go to near the end of the very long thread)

Also there is a Verilog HDL description of the ZX ULA on OpenCores (based on Chris Smith's reverse engineering work) if you like to play with FPGAs.

Re:If you want a real one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46319803)

a friend of mine had a SAM Coupe. Now that was a great looking Spectrum remake. It was even Spectrum 128 compatible.

And why not the QL instead? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 5 months ago | (#46317961)

It was a much more capable computer, and equally ahead of its time if not moreso. It also had a better keyboard than the ZX. I've regretted selling mine off to a coworker in 1993.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#46317979)

Because more people remember ZXs.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 5 months ago | (#46317985)

No-one wants to be forced to use Sinclair Microdrives :).

Besides which, there were far less classic games for the QL than the Spectrum.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 5 months ago | (#46318057)

Hey, no one was forcing you... you could've hooked up a floppy or disk drive to the expansion bus if you'd wanted! And it had a 68008 in it, "classic" games could've been ported from the Lisa/Mac.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

MROD (101561) | about 5 months ago | (#46318713)

Hey, don't knock the Microdrives, they worked well enough.

Only now that the foam rubber pads under the tape on the cartridges are failing is the data being lost from them. Thankfully someone's found a solution to this and has got some high-quality felt pads made up as replacements. (See: RWAP Software for more details.)

It only took a year until 3.5" floppy disk drives and interface were available, if you had the cash. Remember, back then the drives cost a fortune and the disks themselves a significant amount of the weekly wage packet.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46319777)

Never had those ridiculous microdrives working on my QL. And the spare parts that i obtained later to replace the faulty ones weren't much better :-(
I do have a 3,5" Floppy interface hooked up on it. It had also additional memory.

Though I must admit I haven't turned on my QL for ages now. The same for my ZX Spectrum, Oric Atmos and Tanburry Newbrain :-)

I do know that my Psion Series 5 still works though.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46317987)

No reason to build it for the same reason no on bought it when it came out. No software.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 5 months ago | (#46318081)

And there was loads of software for the ZX at launch, then?

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46318155)

There was never any software for the QL.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

macraig (621737) | about 5 months ago | (#46318251)

Sure there was. I had some. If there weren't any *games*, whose fault was that? You should've written or ported one. Regardless, the machine was significant enough to have spawned several clones.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 5 months ago | (#46325191)

When I say no software, of course I mean very little. Too little to make it a sensible purchase.

It's a shame. But Sinclair fumbled the launch as I recall, and by the time you could actually get one, the excitement had subsided. Then there were problems with the microdrives. And the problem that it was priced above the BBC Micro level rather then the Spectrum level, and so it didn't appeal to Sinclair's existing customers.

BBC Micro users such as as I might have bought one, but we needed reassurance given the cheap and nasty Sinclair reputation. And that reassurance (in the form of software availability, and hardware reliability) never came.

In the end I got my 68000 series processor replacement for the BBC Micro in the form of an Atari ST. But that was maybe 3 years later.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 5 months ago | (#46318423)

And there was loads of software for the ZX at launch, then?

The ZX wasn't obsolete at launch. The QL was.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

MROD (101561) | about 5 months ago | (#46318661)

Erm... so how many machines costing less than £2000 had a 68000 processor and fully pre-emptive multitasking in January 1984? None.

The Macintosh, which you're possibly talking about, was announce two weeks after the QL and was half an order of magnitude more expensive.

This isn't to say that the QL was perfect, which it very much wasn't. Some of the design decisions, such as using the keyboard processor for serial receive and sound as well as the keyboard were nuts.

Tony Tebby's OS and SuperBASIC were way ahead of their time though.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 5 months ago | (#46327257)

Sure it had lots of neat features...but nobody wanted it because the IBM PC was already doing the job (even though it was slower).

And microdrives...? They weren't serious.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

MROD (101561) | about 5 months ago | (#46328619)

In the UK the IBM PC was a very rare beast outside of a blue chip company, they were just too darned expensive.

In January 1984 the IBM PC XT was the only version on offer, using an 8088 or 8086, the PC AT had not even been announced. The tape only version with built in BASIC on ROM would probably set you back ~£1500, if you were lucky, with MGA mono-graphics maybe. Then you had to add the monitor for a couple of hundred more.

Most people and small companies just couldn't afford that sort of money. It was almost the price of a small car!

Even at £400, the Sinclair QL and BBC Model B were way out of the price range of the average person, being close to half a month's wages, if not more. This is the main reason that the ZX Spectrum sold so well.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

Threni (635302) | about 5 months ago | (#46318323)

The keyboard where the keys fell out if you turned it upside down? That device was a joke, and in no way ahead of its time.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

MROD (101561) | about 5 months ago | (#46318673)

That's an urban myth and only slightly true of the early ZX Spectrum+ cases.

Re:And why not the QL instead? (1)

MROD (101561) | about 5 months ago | (#46318791)

Actually, there was a QL derivative sort of available, the Q40 and Q60 machines running SMSQ/E, the QDOS derivative.

Out of production currently though.

Having said that, there is still a small but active QL hardware and software development community.

Check out the QL-Users mailing list [q-v-d.com] archives.

This fP for GNAA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46318023)

FUCK THE BABY fe48 the reaper

A terrible "summary" linking to a poor "article" (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#46318123)

There is a very interesting project underway to recreate the ZX Spectrum and more.

No, there isn't. Certainly not "more" - I don't know where that's come from.

This [kickstarter.com] is the link you're looking for. The one that tells you that, actually, what's been kickstarted is a bluetooth keyboard in the style of a ZX spectrum.

Speaking of that link, though, what's with the shitty JPEG [amazonaws.com] details page? Don't we has text on the internets now?

Keyword scanner (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46318465)

what's with the shitty JPEG details page?

It wouldn't be to hide the details from Kickstarter's keyword scanner, would it? I know an eBay seller who used to use an image-of-text to hide its terms of sale from eBay's keyword scanner so that the use of the word "check" in "before you bid, check with your country's customs department to see what duty you'll need to pay" didn't trip the prohibited payment option filter. Officially, according to a representative of the seller, the image-of-text was so that terms could be revised on 50,000 store items at once without having to push 50,000 individual listing revisions, but I found the real reason once the seller hired me as a contractor.

Dear Timothy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46318237)

Either do your job properly or don't fucking bother.

  1. This KEYBOARD has already been covered by slashdot several weeks ago.
  2. There is so much wrong in the summary that it's easier to point out what the fuck is right with it.

The ZX Spectrum keyboard was a trendsetter (4, Interesting)

Peter H.S. (38077) | about 5 months ago | (#46318261)

What? The ZX Spectrum keyboard was years ahead of the competition with its square, flat, chiclet keys. It took decades before the PC industry realized its potential instead of emulating old typewriter keys. These days even Apple's Macbook Pro has flat and square keys, a clear tribute to the ZX "Speccy" chiclet keyboard.

On a more serious note, while the ZX Spectrum keyboard wasn't for touch typists, it had its advantages too: all the BASIC commands was printed on or above or below the keys, so it worked as a BASIC "cheat sheet". You only had to press "G" to print the command "GOTO" so it saved key presses and removed typos in the commands and functions etc.

The ZX Spectrum worked very well as an entry level PC with an emphasis on learning BASIC programming. I know several people who made a career in the IT business because of what they learned from programming the ZX Spectrum.

Re:The ZX Spectrum keyboard was a trendsetter (1)

iMadeGhostzilla (1851560) | about 4 months ago | (#46335119)

That's right -- the keyboard was also a "cheat sheet" with all the available BASIC instructions. It was brilliant and with its colors and design to me it's still the most exciting keyboard ever! Plus I knew about an equal number of C64 and Spectrum users, almost no one from the C64 camp did any programming and almost all from the Spectrum camp did. Those printed keywords were just begging to try them out.

Re:The ZX Spectrum keyboard was a trendsetter (1)

iMadeGhostzilla (1851560) | about 4 months ago | (#46335131)

... funny looks like I picked up "cheat sheet" unconsciously b/c I don't remember reading it. Looks silly now. :-)

Heavily outdated summary... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46318349)

1. It's not a Bluetooth ZX Spectrum, but a Bluetooth ZX Spectrum *keyboard*;

2. It's not even a generic keyboard, but a keyboard that is only guaranteed to work with "Elite official applications";

3. Most of these "Elite official applications" have been removed from AppStore, some of them due to unpaid royalties, others for copyright infringment - thus there's a change owners of the keyboard may not have any applications to use after all;

4. Unpaid game developers are currently trying to cancel this Kickstarter campaign, since the premise of a Spectrum-like keyboard to play licensed games is false - several games that Elite released on mobile were never licensed at all, others were licensed but never paid;

5. This "news" is about 3 weeks old, as you can see from the following links:

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/gamesblog/2014/feb/13/zx-spectrum-kickstarter-over-unpaid-developer-bills
http://www.merseyremakes.co.uk/gibber/2014/01/the-elite-bluetooth-keyboard-breaking-down-the-problems/
http://www.merseyremakes.co.uk/gibber/2014/02/bluetooth-zx-spectrum-elitewatch-update/
http://www.computerandvideogames.com/447934/zx-spectrum-kickstarter-company-faces-allegations-of-non-payment/
http://www.vg247.com/2014/01/31/zx-spectrum-game-developers-concerned-over-elite-systems-kickstarter/
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-02-03-controversy-over-bluetooth-zx-spectrum-keyboard
http://torrentfreak.com/successful-kickstarter-campaign-hit-by-game-piracy-claims-140131/
http://www.polygon.com/2014/1/31/5364436/emulator-keyboard-kickstarter-under-fire-for-using-licensed-material
http://stevewetherill.com/2014/01/30/public-statement-on-elite-bluetooth-spectrum-kickstarter/

Re:Heavily outdated summary... (2)

ledow (319597) | about 5 months ago | (#46318457)

Yep. Was hoping someone would bring this up.

Do they even have licensing to call it a Spectrum anything? I think Amstrad might well want to take issue with that.

Re:Heavily outdated summary... (1)

kexborough (3548625) | about 5 months ago | (#46319443)

Indeed. This has been well covered on the web already.

Woooo.... (0)

The123king (2395060) | about 5 months ago | (#46318467)

I've got a Commodore 64 DTV at home, i'm just waiting for the parts to make it an (almost) fully functional C64. Single-board retro computers are not new. The miggy has done it, the C64 has done it, i suppose it was about time the brits caught up.

Re:Woooo.... (3, Interesting)

spike1 (675478) | about 5 months ago | (#46318711)

There have been home projects to replicate the spectrum, ula included...
one was called speccybob which replicated the machine in TTL logic, meaning it would be possible to take that design and cram it onto a single chip.

But alas, the person running that project ran into lots of bad luck and had to abort it.

Re:Woooo.... (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 5 months ago | (#46321685)

It's been done. There are several timing faithful clones (based on Chris Smith's work on reverse engineering the ULA - he had the ULA die photographed and built the complete circuit diagram at the transistor level and an analysis of the complete circuit - search for the Spectrum ULA on Amazon and you can buy his book). You can buy a kit on the clone designed from this work - there's a thread currently on World of Spectrum Forums, and if you're quick you may still be able to get one.

Alternatively, on OpenCores, there is a Spectrum ULA in Verilog which was created from the same work. You can use this for a FPGA based clone.

It's just a keyboard, this is an FPGA version. (2)

mrmeval (662166) | about 5 months ago | (#46319071)

Re:It's just a keyboard, this is an FPGA version. (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 5 months ago | (#46321693)

There's another timing perfect FPGA version (on a purpose designed PCB the size of the Raspberry Pi) coming out shortly called the ZX Uno. The Uno is based on the reverse engineering of the original ULA and as such is timing perfect.

Compucolor II Emulator (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46319863)

I never had a ZX Spectrum, but I remember looking at them in the shops.

My dad bought a Compucolor II and it was awesome. It looks like there is an emulator out now for it too @ http://www.compucolor.org/emu.html

Sadly I don't think I'll ever get my kids to get into the computing platforms that was my early teenage years.
 

A new one? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46320643)

My old one works just fine, thank you.

Spectrum keyboard! Luxury. In my day, we had.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46321291)

Having had both a zx-spectrum and a before that the Sinclair zx-81, I can tell you that the spectrum keyboard was a designed improvement. The 81 had this flexible plastic sheet with raised, rounded bumps for all the keys. You would press down until to bump flattened and you hit hard plastic to know that you had typed.

Other than that, the keyboard entry was much the same as the spectrum. Each letter on the keyboard mapped a command, a symbol, and a graphic character as well as a letter. Programming in basic was reasonably fast as every command needed only a single keystroke. Learning to program on the speccy was a great grounding for later on. I still remember one of the greatest things about the spectrum compared to say the C64 was that the spectrum handbook came with a list of all the memory addresses and their functions, as well as the Z80 registers, so right out of the box you had a little encouragement to start dabbling in machine code as well as BASIC.

On the other hand, the great thing about the ZX81 was that if you had the optional 16K (yep 16 whole kilobytes people) expansion pack, there was a semi-official cooling hack. Freeze a tetra pack of UHT milk and sit it up against the module. You just don't see milk cooled computers these days.....

The rubberised keyboard on the spectrum was not that bad to use. The main issue was that the rubber got chipped or started to perish under the oils from your fingers. I ended up wiring my spectrum into the case and keyboard of a broken Texas Instruments TI99/4a and never looked back.

I don't need a new one (1)

QuasiRob (134012) | about 5 months ago | (#46322149)

My original one from 1982 is still working.

PS/2 would be much better (1)

Technomancer (51963) | about 5 months ago | (#46327929)

At least I could use it with my NedoPC ZX Evo. http://nedopc.com/zxevo/zxevo.php
Which is pretty cool, Mini-ITX format ZX Spectrum compatible motherboard ;-)

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