Friday 17 September 2021

Sir Clive Sinclair dies aged 81


British inventor and entrepreneur, Sir Clive Sinclair had died at the age of 81. 


The computing pioneer who was instrumental in bringing home computers to homes, died at home in London on Thursday morning after a long illness. Sinclair invented the pocket calculator but was best known for popularising the home computer, bringing it to British high-street stores at relatively affordable prices.


Modern-day titans of the games industry got their start on one of his ZX models. For a certain generation of gamer, the computer of choice was either the ZX Spectrum 48K or its rival, the Commodore 64.


His 57-year-old daughter, Belinda Sinclair confirmed his death. She said; 


“He was a rather amazing person. Of course, he was so clever and he was always interested in everything. My daughter and her husband are engineers so he’d be chatting engineering with them.”


Sir Clive was born in Richmond, London in 1940 and knighted in 1983.  He left school at 17 and worked for four years as a technical journalist to raise funds to found Sinclair Radionics. 


His first home computer, the ZX80, named after the year it appeared, revolutionised the market, although it was a far cry from today’s models. At £79.95 in kit form and £99.95 assembled, it was about one-fifth of the price of other home computers at the time. It sold 50,000, units while its successor, the ZX81, which replaced it, cost £69.95 and sold 250,000.

Many games industry veterans got their start typing programs into its touch-based keyboard and became hooked on games such as as 3D Monster Maze and Mazogs. The ZX80 and ZX81 made him very rich. In 2010 Sinclair told the Guardian: “Within two or three years, we made £14m profit in a year.”


His C5 battery-powered tricycle was introduced in 1985 as a means of revolutionising transport, but it failed to prove popular and eventually sent Sinclair Vehicles into receivership. Reviews expressed concerns about the safety of driving a vehicle below the sight line of other motorists, as well as exposure to the elements. The following year, Sinclair sold his computer business to Amstrad.


The British tech pioneer's Sinclair TV80, a pocket TV, was another device, like the C5, that did not catch on, although people now regularly view programmes on their mobile phones.


Prior to his death,it was learnt that he did not make personal use of his own inventions. His daughter said he never had a pocket calculator as far as she knew, instead carrying a slide-rule around with him at all times. And he told interviewers he used neither a computer nor email.


He is survived by Belinda, his sons, Crispin and Bartholomew, aged 55 and 52 respectively, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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