The ZX Spectrum locally reborn!

Some good local news for some pioneering 8-bit old tech reborn anew:

Remodelled ZX Spectrum production set to begin

Production is set to start on a remodelled version of the ZX Spectrum, which will come pre-installed with 1,000 classic game titles.

Nottinghamshire firm SMS Electronics will manufacture the Sinclair Spectrum Vega at its Beeston factory. The machine, which has been developed by Luton-based Retro Computers, is due to go on sale in April.

Sir Clive Sinclair, who launched the original ZX Spectrum computer in 1982, is backing the venture.

Mark Goldby, managing director of SMS Electronics, said he was hoping for “big things” from the new machine…


ZX Spectrum computers from the 1980s to be made again in Beeston

… Five million of the original ZX Spectrum, first manufactured by Sinclair Computers in 1982, were sold.

SMS Electronics Ltd, based in Technology Drive, has now been chosen out of 20 manufacturers to reproduce the console…

… The new device will be called the Sinclair Spectrum Vega and will have the same look and feel as the original. More than 1,000 classic games will be pre-installed and the console is expected to sell for less than £100…


Retro frenzy builds as Beeston firm is chosen for ZX Spectrum revival

… “I remember the Hobbit game,” said the teacher for the Open University, whose love of technology inspired her to name her three-year-old daughter Ada after pioneering computer programmer Ada Lovelace.

Mrs Snarey, married to IT worker Fin, 35, said she was proud that Beeston had been chosen to help re-ignite the retro gaming industry.said: ‘‘Beeston is a lovely community and I think this move fits in with the quirkiness of the town. I like the idea that Beeston is going to be a bit of a technology hub.”…


And just for fun from the days of such a diminutive machine:

Coder creates smallest chess game for computers

A French coder has developed what is thought to be the smallest-sized chess computer program.

BootChess is only 487 bytes in size, and the code can be run on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux computers.

That makes it smaller than 1K ZX Chess – a Sinclair ZX81 computer game, which contained 672 bytes of code and had held the record for 33 years…


Hasn’t Beeston’s Technology Drive always been the gateway to a pretty big “technology hub”?…

And I wonder how many old ZX-80/81/Spectrum machines are lost in various attics/lofts?… Do people still hack assembler?!

Or all a game of MAME-on? 😛

Happy hacking!

(NB: “Hacking” here is used in the traditional sense for ‘making something work’…)

9 comments to The ZX Spectrum locally reborn!

  • Martin L

    I wonder if you’ll find an old original Spectrum and the new Vega in the new ‘Cathedral of video games’ opening here Sat 28/03/2015:

    National Videogame Arcade opens in Nottingham

    The UK’s first national centre dedicated to the art and culture of videogames opens this weekend.

    The £2.5m National Videogame Arcade (NVA), in Nottingham, celebrates the industry through interactive exhibits and vintage arcade machines. The NVA follows the success of Game City, an annual videogame festival held in Nottingham since 2006…

    … The centre lies in the heart of Nottingham’s creative quarter, in Hockley. It has five floors and boasts vintage arcade machines, interactive exhibits, a cinema, cafe and an education space.

    Jonathan Smith, one of the centre’s directors, said the building would be a “cathedral” for the art form and a unique visitor attraction…

    See: GameCity and The National Videogame Arcade – The Story So Far

    Game on! 🙂

  • Martin L

    Retro redeveloped and re-forked?… The story continues:

    Sir Clive Sinclair in tech tin-rattle triumph … ZX Spectrum Vega+ console

    Sir Clive Sinclair has in just three days tin-rattled his way to over £160,000 towards production of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+, described breathlessly as “the world’s only hand-held LCD games console with 1,000 licensed games inside that can also connect to your TV!!”…

    … The Indiegogo blurb says:

    In this new conception of what a games player wants from their games console, our design team has taken advantage of major advances in technology to achieve big cost savings, by replacing most of the electronics in the early Sinclair computer products.

    Instead we have chosen a fast but low cost micro-controller with software designed and developed by a leading world expert on Sinclair Spectrum technology. Our software is used in clever ways, allowing us to build this exciting product which can run every Spectrum game that exists, 14,000 or more of them from the past…

    Quite a blast from the past re-imagined!

    Game on!!! 🙂

  • Martin L

    A few years(!) later, and multiple twists and turns, before a small few of the Vega+ finally appear:

    ZX Spectrum Vega+ blows a FUSE: It runs open-source emulator

    Uncomfortable to hold, crap buttons – oh dear

    Review: The ZX Spectrum Vega+ is running open-source Spectrum emulator software FUSE, The Register has confirmed while carrying out a hands-on review of the handheld console.

    As regular readers know, the Vega+ is the flagship product of Retro Computers Ltd, the company which took £513,000 in crowdfunded cash from members of the public to produce handheld ZX Spectrum-themed gaming consoles. It failed to deliver any for two years and then belatedly emitted what appear to be several dozen of the devices last week…

    Here’s hoping they can yet up their game…

  • Martin L

    For a somewhat more impressive and hopeful revival, here’s a good article on the improving fortunes of the eastern Scotland city that made the ZX Spectrum – about five million of ’em! (Jump to “Generation ZX” to jump past the sad part of history…)

    The city with grand designs

    … Sinclair chose the Timex factory to make his latest computer because it needed the work after watch-making stopped and he needed a skilled workforce.

    For a short period, it was a huge success, with Timex producing a computer every four seconds.

    Within about a year of the Spectrum’s release, Sinclair Research was the first company in the world to sell a million home computers.

    It is thought that the various versions sold about five million worldwide before they finally lost out to competitors.

    The significance of the Spectrum is compared to the Commodore 64 in the USA in marking the start of the home computer gaming scene.

    Abertay’s Mona Bozdog, who coined the term Generation ZX for a research project, says the Timex Camperdown building is now a kitchen warehouse, with no sign that this legendary computer was made there…

    Good that games development and web design continue in that area.

    Here’s hoping there is indeed now new energy and motivation for greater things!

  • Martin L

    Unfortunately, this particular ZX Spectrum reboot didn’t go so well:

    Court orders moribund ZX Spectrum reboot firm’s directors to stump up £38k legal costs bill

    … Just as readers thought the saga of dodgy Sinclair reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd had ended, the High Court has ruled that its current and former directors owe £38,000 in legal costs to two of its founders…

    … It is RCL’s customers who are the biggest collective losers here, regardless of which of the firm’s directors has won the legal battles…

    As always in the legal games, the only people to win are those that are getting paid to argue. Also, hopefully the RCL silliness doesn’t spoil the successes of other ZX Spectrum groups.


    Elsewhere for a completely different group, here’s hoping for great success for the ZX Spectrum Next 🙂

  • Martin L

    The End Game for Retro Computers Ltd?

    The Register reports:

    Is this a wind-up? Planet Computers boss calls time on ZX Spectrum reboot firm

    Lots of unanswered questions remain – and nobody’s talking

    Retro Computers Ltd, which absorbed £513,000 of backers’ money to produce ZX Spectrum-themed game consoles it then failed to deliver, has been wound up…

    … Private Planet’s winding-up petition was first filed on 30 November 2018. To obtain a winding-up order, a creditor must be owed at least £750 by a company…

    A final End of Line?

    • Martin L

      And into the End Game… The Register reports:

      ZX Spectrum Vega+ ‘backer’? Nope, you’re now a creditor – and should probably act fast

      Speak up and you might recover some of that £513k

      People who paid for one of the infamous ZX Spectrum Vega+ handheld game consoles are being urged to register themselves as creditors of the company before a liquidator is appointed…

      … Kenny told El Reg by email: “We have now set up the following link which gives creditors the opportunity to have myself speak and act on their behalf as I have already done with the backers who have signed the Vega+ Refund Request Petition previously.” When we asked if Kenny was going to claim a cut of the creditors’ cash or otherwise bill them for acting as their spokesman, he simply said: “Nope.”

      The next step in the RCL saga is for a creditors’ meeting to take place, overseen by the Official Receiver…

      For anyone bought into that, make your move now! And good luck?

  • Martin L

    Here, The Register reports on possibly a one-of-a-kind original ZX Spectrum prototype, freshly time-warped from the 1980’s:

    The first ZX Spectrum prototype laid bare…

    The Saints of Silicon at the Centre for Computing History have got hold of the original build of Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum, courtesy of Kate and John Grant.

    Grant, who also worked on the guts of Sinclair’s ZX80 and ZX81 (and can be heard talking about his experiences in Randy Kindig’s Floppy Days podcast), donated the prototype hardware to the museum

    Looks like The Saints of Silicon at the Centre for Computing History is a good target to visit!… 😉

    • Martin L

      … And they have uploaded and released the contents of The ROM:

      ZX Spectrum prototype ROM is now available for download courtesy of boffins at the UK’s Centre for Computing History

      … It has been just over a year since Kate and John Grant let the team at CCH get hold of the prototype, replete with handwritten labels and lacking the familiar rubber keyboard and sleek plastic case…

      … the team has extracted the ROM image and also obtained permission to distribute it via the museum’s website (for research and educational purposes only)…

      … Noting that the ROM runs slightly differently in different emulators (and admitting that “I’m no Speccy expert!”), Fitzpatrick pointed to the efforts of the community in working out what was hidden within the artefact…


      Enjoy some very nostalgic bits and bytes! 🙂

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