Category Archives: Retro

Clive Sinclair (1941-2021) Part three — resurgam

In part one we saw how the young Clive Sinclair created Sinclair Radionics — twice — and built it into a successful business that launched hi-fi products in the 1960s and the first ever pocket calculator in 1972. In part two, we investigated the genesis of the Radionics microcomputer. Read on to learn what occurred when Radionics finally went under, and how the ZX80 came about…

Clive Sinclair in 1981
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Clive Sinclair (1940-2021) Part two — Radionics’ last, great hope: the microcomputer

In part one, we saw how the young Clive Sinclair created Sinclair Radionics — twice — and built it into a successful business that launched hi-fi products in the 1960s and the first ever pocket calculator in 1972, but soon suffered badly as its digital watch efforts foundered and competition crushed its calculator sales. Read on to learn how Radionics met its end, but (almost) gave birth to a new microcomputer…

Clive Sinclair in 1983
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Clive Sinclair (1940-2021) Part one — how it all began

Clive Sinclair formed the first company to bear his name in 1961 while he was a 21-year-old electronics journalist. He had received no formal education in the subject, but as a highly intelligent autodidact, he had developed a passion for electronics during his teens. He also had an entrepreneurial bent, and even in his youth spotted a business opportunity in designing and selling kits to fellow electronics enthusiasts.

Sir Clive Sinclair (1940-2021) in 1985
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Spectrum, Oric, Dragon… even Enterprise — demanded designs come to smittytone’s retro tech T-shirt store

You asked for it and you got it: following the ZX80 and ZX81 keyboard layout T-shirts comes my ZX Spectrum version — giving you the chance to steal a march on April 2022’s 40th anniversary!

Wear your ‘dead flesh‘ with pride. ZX Spectrum keyboard shirt modelled by yours truly
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Celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Sinclair ZX81 with this multifunction-key-tastic T-shirt

Nearly half a century ago, Clive Sinclair’s Sinclair Research made history. It released the ZX81, one of the key home computers of the 1980s, as the first low-cost micro available to High Street shoppers. And you can express your love of early 80s tech with my latest retro-wear: the ZX81 keyboard shirt.

Modelled by yours truly
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Phantom Slayer’s spooks get a shot of smarts

Phantom Slayer, the 1982 computer game I’ve restored on the Raspberry Pi Pico, has been updated to version 1.0.1 to give the titular spectres some extra smarts as they navigate the game maze in pursuit of the player.

Phantom Slayer's (slightly) smarter spooks
The Phantoms: certainly smarter — also more scary?
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Enjoy some old school 3D arcade action — courtesy of the Raspberry Pi Pico

In the mid-1980s, I loved Phantom Slayer. Written for the Tandy Color Computer and made available for the Dragon 32, Phantom Slayer was a 3D maze shooter. Think a very basic version of Doom with colours but no textures. It wasn’t sophisticated, but it was quick and, more to the point, incredibly atmospheric.

The Pi Pico version of Phantom Slayer
Do you have what it takes to face down the Phantoms?
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Hail to the Acorn Atom, the Pi Pico predecessor from 1980

If the Raspberry Pi is the BBC Micro de nos jours then the Pi Pico is perhaps the spiritual successor to that earlier Acorn micro: the Atom. So in homage to that ground-breaking pre-Beeb cased computer, here’s the latest offering from Smittytone’s Retro T-Shirt Store.

Atomic apparel
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