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2007/149/1 Personal computer, Sinclair ZX80 microcomputer, plastic / metal / electrical components, made by Sinclair Computer Ltd, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, 1980. Click to enlarge.

Sinclair ZX80 microcomputer

Made
The Sinclair ZX80 is a personal computer that was available either as a kit or fully assembled. It was designed and marketed to be connected to a domestic television and had a very small memory which made it capable of handling only trivial programs. The ZX80 was specifically designed to be sold for less than 100 pounds sterling, 20% of the cost of any other available machines at the time of its release. At this price it became the first computer available to a general market. Other kit computers were available but catered to the tastes of the electronics hobbyists and required their skills for assembly. The ZX80 with its moulded plastic casing, completely enclosing and hiding the electronic components, was much more appealing to the non-technical consumer. The broader appeal and low cost meant it became the first introduction many people had to computer programming. In comparison to later models the ZX80 was unreliable and very limited in its application. Users often had to provide their own solutions to the various problems (blue-tac was used to hold the RAM pack in place, frozen milk cartons rested on the machine to combat overheating), but this did not seem to detract from its popularity.

The first micro-processor computers were used mainly for business and academic purposes or by electronics hobbyists. The ZX80 was bought and used by people in their homes to learn about and experiment with computer programming. The ZX80 was one of the first "home computers" as distinct from a "personal computer". The quality of the ZX80 at the time of its release was consided to be quite acceptable. But with a drop in the price of machines like the Commodore and the Apple II which had proper keyboards and monitors, the ZX80 (and ZX81) became obsolete.

Damian McDonald
Curator
March 2007

Summary

Object No.

2007/149/1

Object Statement

Personal computer, Sinclair ZX80 microcomputer, plastic / metal / electrical components, made by Sinclair Computer Ltd, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, 1980

Physical Description

Personal computer, Sinclair ZX80 microcomputer, plastic / metal / electrical components, made by Sinclair Computer Ltd, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, 1980

Sinclair ZX80 personal computer, or home computer, is a white plastic unit, encasing a single printed circuit board. At the front of the unit is a small black keypad, the black sheet of plastic printed in grey and red forms a QWERTY keyboard, with each key having multiple functions. On the top of the unit printed in black and orange is the name of the manufacture and model number 'sinclair/ZX80' on the right side above the keyboard is a small black panel printed in white and orange with 'Intergal Functions'. At the back of the unit there are four ports for various cables on the left side, two for a recorder, one for power and one for a TV cable, on the right side is a hole where the connector for the ZX80 RAM pack should be.

Marks

Manufacture details are printed in black on the base of the unit 'sinclair / Model No Zx80 USA / Personal Computer / Made in England / No user serviceable parts inside / Use only Sinclair / approved mains / adaptor.'

Dimensions

Width

178 mm

Depth

42 mm

Production

Notes

The personal computer was made by Science of Cambridge, later Sinclair Research in 1980.

History

Notes

This computer was owned by the donor who is a keen collector of computers. He offered the computer to the Museum in 1999.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of David Hawley, 2007

Acquisition Date

22 October 2007

Cite this Object

Harvard

Sinclair ZX80 microcomputer 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 16 April 2021, <https://ma.as/319276>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/319276 |title=Sinclair ZX80 microcomputer |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=16 April 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}