Spectrum inventor Sir Clive Sinclair launches new low-cost games console

Inventor Sir Clive Sinclair is planning to release an update to his pioneering ZX Spectrum home computer, which launched in 1982.

Vega controller
Vega controller

Sinclair says “major advances in technology” over the past 32 years mean that most of the electronics have been replaced for the new Spectrum Vega, leading to “big cost savings”.

The Vega will be able to play all 14,000+ games that were originally developed for the Spectrum ZX, says Sinclair. It will also have an expended colour palette and use a low-cost microcontroller. It has been designed so that further features can be added over time using software updates.

The console will come with around 1,000 games already built in. Like the original Spectrum ZX it will have no monitor and instead plug directly into a TV.

The Vega will cost “well below £100”, says Sinclair, while a 10 per cent of the sales price will be donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

Sinclair says: “I have been thinking about this idea [to bring the Spectrum back] for 15 years or so, because so many people I met and articles I read were telling me that the Spectrum had made a big difference to their lives.

“Also in Russia, until recent years at least, the Spectrum was the most plentiful computer in the country, which made me realise that even nowadays the Spectrum is a great-value product.”

The original Spectrum ZX
The original Spectrum ZX

He adds: “In the 1980s it was necessary for computer enthusiasts to spend quite a lot if they wanted to build up a good-sized library of games, but with the current technology we can provide the games free, already in the Vega’s memory, and we can give away more games later.”

Sinclair says he believes that the Vega will appeal to a range of potential consumers. He says: “The most serious games enthusiasts might buy both a Vega and a modern-day console. For them the Vega would be an extra console on which they can replay some of the games from their youth.

“I also believe that the inclusion of around 1,000 games in the Vega makes it such good value that many people who do not want to spend the cost of a modern games console plus the cost of a range of games will buy the Vega instead.”

Sinclair says he believes the 1980s success of the original Spectrum ZX was due to “a combination of the price point and the huge number of games that quickly became available”.

He adds: “Also there was the fact that there were so many people able to access and programme the Spectrum and potentially even write a top-selling game from their own bedroom.”

The new Vega has been developed by Chris Smith, a former ZX Spectrum games developer. It will be marketed by Luton-based start-up Retro Computers, in which Sir Clive’s company Sinclair Research is a shareholder.

Example of game graphics on the Vega
Example of game graphics on the Vega

A working prototype of the Spectrum Vega has been created and the backers are currently contacting the thousands of original Spectrum game developers in order to secure their permission to use the games.

An appeal has been launched on crowd-funding site Indiegogo to raise £100,000 to develop the Vega for market.

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Comments
  • Dan November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I was a MASSIVE ZX Spectrum fan when they originally came out but this idea is just plain stupid and will fail. Sir Clive is relying on nostalgia rather than innovation and I think he needs to think again.

  • Ben Rattigan November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I cant wait for this. Sinclair is a real hero of British computer enthusiasts and I owe my job in IT now to the little Spectrum I spent my childhood playing on and coding on. I hope whatever form the Vega comes in he gives kids of today some enthusiam for coding.

  • Tim Lucas November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I think that this could be a great way to relive all those retro games. If they offer game updater packs at low cost to extend and extend your vintage collection then count me in Sir Clive! I’d buy one… and I know a handful of others who would too. Tim, Kitschstock.com

  • Darren Surgey November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Had zx48k when I was a kid and loved it. The games were designed for proper game play and games like Back to Skool and Jack the Nipper were my favourites. I will certainly be buying one when the Vega comes out.

  • Alex Clark November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Love it, will have to get one

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