Sir Clive Sinclair 1940-2021 – Death of a tech pioneer

This article is from Retro Games Collector. Click the title to hop over there.

It has taken me a few days to process my feelings about the passing of Sir Clive Sinclair, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy task and I needed a bit of time to do my thoughts justice. I’m not usually one to mourn the passing of strangers. And by strangers, I mean people that I don’t directly know or interact with regularly. However, Sir Clive seems to have always been there, not in person, but through his products and ideas. And in that sense, there has been interaction. 40 years of it. Perhaps that is why I feel a bit more affected by his passing than perhaps I should, after all, his products, in part, shaped my life’s course.

Back in 1982, I received a small black wedge shaped computer for Christmas. The computer in question had been released a year before and I had pestered my parents for the entirety of that year in order to get one of my own. Second hand (times were hard back then), but nevertheless all boxed up and in excellent condition, I finally got my ZX81 along with a small bundle of software and a copy of Tim Hartnell’s ’49 Explosive Games’ book. I was on my way and I never looked back.

Sir Clive Sinclair
Sir Clive Sinclair
Sir Clive Sinclair
Sir Clive Sinclair

Sinclair’s ethos was simple – to produce useful home computers at a price point that anyone could afford, and indeed a year later I was the proud owner of another of Sinclair’s machines – his first colour computer, the ZX Spectrum. This time brand new and complete with the famous Sinclair 6-pack of games.

Without Sir Clive Sinclair’s dogged determination to get his way, regardless of all the pitfalls and failures the befell him, I would never have owned a home computer in 1982 let alone upgraded again a year later. My parents weren’t well off but Sinclair made my and many other’s dreams come true by keeping the price low and enabling us council estate kids to take part in the new computing revolution that was sweeping the country. Something that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise, at least not on the scale it did.

I now code websites for the internet. Something that was nurtured way before the internet was even a thing, when I instantly took a keen interest in BASIC programming on my ZX81 (remember that book I mentioned?). My own experiences aside, the highly successful British games industry would not have taken off like it did had it not been for all those other bedroom coders either. Young, excited kids that cut their teeth on ZX80s, ZX81s and Spectrums back in the early 80s, most of whom’s parents probably couldn’t afford any other home computer at that time. Those same kids were suddenly given a digital outlet for their ideas and turned them into world-beating games.

Sir Clive had his flaws, yes. Many of them. Failures too – which, to some people are the only reason they know his name – his miniaturised TVs, C5 and QL spring to mind. But to me, the one thing that defined Sinclair was his spirited determination to get his own way, no matter what was thrown in his path. And I, like many others, am grateful he had that determination. That Sinclair spirit made a generation that can code.

RIP Sir Clive Sinclair and thank you.

Original post can be found at Retro Games Collector
Sir Clive Sinclair 1940-2021 – Death of a tech pioneer

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