Sunday, June 16, 2013

Timex Sinclair 1000 Background

Yes, the power is overwhelming.

The Timex Sinclair 1000 is pretty much a Sinclair ZX81 made for the North American market with 2kB of RAM and NTSC RF video output. Like the ZX81, it has a 3.5 MHz Z80A 8-bit processor and 8kB ROM with a BASIC interpreter. Its quite simple and very small compared to an Apple II. It is about the size and weight of a Kindle Fire HD. At a list price of $99.95 when introduced in 1982, it also cost about the same as a Kindle in 2013 dollars. Its small size and low price led to some limitations, most notably the small membrane keyboard, limited graphics and no sound.

I don't think I had ever heard of a Timex Sinclair until very recently, most likely due to following some of the RetroChallenge entries. You can get a working TS1000 for about $40 on ebay without trying hard. I found a fairly complete setup, advertised as working (more on that later), for less than $25 shipped so I just bought it. A Zilog Z80 based computer at such a low price was too much for me to resist. Considering the prices Apple IIs are fetching on ebay, the TS1000 is an affordable introduction to retro-computing, just as it was an affordable introduction to modern computing back in the 80's. This is the first vintage computer I have owned that isn't an Apple. I don't think my marriage can afford me expanding my computer inventory, so I don't plan on keeping this guy very long. (It is small enough to hide inside an Apple II though...)

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