SINCLAIR ZX80 HOME COMPUTER
by Mark Nobes, chief editor
The ZX80 started a new revolution in home computing, and its release on January 29th 1980 was perfectly timed at the start of an exciting new decade.
In 1980, the ZX80 was the smallest and cheapest home computer on the planet - you could balance one on the palm of your hand! It sold for £99.95 (or £79.95 in kit form), and was well-received in both the UK and US. Okay, it was prone to overheating, and the membrane keyboard was rather annoying, but the inclusion of such a keyboard helped Clive Sinclair (now a Sir, of course) to keep his costs down.
Selling at such a low price did have its drawbacks, and the machine had many limitations. There was no colour or sound, very limited memory, and no video chips - graphics functions were left to the CPU, which meant it was very slow and prone to flickering.
The ZX80 featured a whopping 1kB of RAM and 4kB of ROM (which held the BASIC programming language). Sinclair sold around 50,000 units in all. Unlike the mass-marketed ZX81 and ZX Spectrum, it is now a collector's item as there are very few surviving units that still work.
PAC-MAN ON THE ZX80
This video features a recently programmed, flicker-free version of Pacman for the ZX80 which is available to buy, believe it or not! Of course, it looks flickery in the video because of the old CRT TV screen which is being used to demonstrate the game. But this gives you an idea of what can be done which such limited hardware, at least.
SPACE INVADERS on a ZX80
Here is a ZX80 running a flicker-free game of Space Invaders at a vintage computer show. Actually, I'm more interested in that funky, space age monitor!