Nowadays it is a collectors item:
the keypad that was an accessory for the Spectrum 128. In Spain the keypad
was standard included with the computer. It could be plugged into the
front of the 128. The numeric keypad was meant, a.o., to use in the
calculator mode. Handy? I think it was much easier to put a regular
calculator next to the computer on your desktop.
In the United Kingdom and as I suppose in other European countries one
could buy the keypad separately.
Welcome to the nostalgic
history of home and game computers
SINCLAIR ZX SPECTRUM+ 128
When I recently
saw this home computer on a flee market, I almost got mislead. I wanted to
leave it were it was, because I thought it was a regular
until I noticed the bit bigger case with '128 K' printed on it. Outward
the Spectrum+ 128 is very similar to its predecessor, but inside there is
a world of difference between the two computers.
One of the big differences is of course the substantially extended RAM of
128 KB, compared to the 48 K of the Spectrum
and the Spectrum+. Now Sinclair had made
a real computer! And the funniest thing was that one could use the 128 KB
(at least a big part of it) as a so-called RAM disk. This meant that in
RAM several programs could be saved and loaded, just like on tape or on
Sinclair's microdrives, but many times faster.
The second big plus of the Spectrum 128 was the mature sound. The user
wasn't annoyed any longer at the simple, beeping speaker of the preceding
Spectrums. The moment had come for the real gaming with matching sound
effects, thanks to the Yamaha sound chip. Just like competitor Commodore
64, the Spectrum now let itself heard through the TV. And the MIDI/RS232
at the back of the Spectrum offered extra musical possibilities.
The third major difference was the extended
Basic version. Besides, one wrote programs on the Spectrum 128 with a
Basic editor, so that it was much easier now to make changes in a listing.
On the other hand, Sinclair had abandoned its famous system with which one
could enter Basic commands with one touch. The commands had to be entered
letter for letter now. But the syntax check was maintained.
When booting the computer one
also noticed that this was a revised model of the Spectrum. On the
screen a real menu appeared, with five possibilities: Tape Loader (to
load a program directly from tape), 128 BASIC, Calculator (to use the
computer as a calculator), 48 BASIC and Tape Tester (to check the
sound level of the tape recorder).
With the option 48 BASIC one could use the
Spectrum 128 as a regular Spectrum/Spectrum+. Thus the enormous amount of
games and other software for these early Spectrums could still be used on
the Spectrum 128. In Basic-128 mode the new Spectrum was not compatible
with its predecessors.
First in Spain
Remarkably enough, the Spectrum+ 128 was not launched in the United
Kingdom, but in Spain. Sinclair decided not to start in the UK with this
new computer because of the enormous amounts of unsold previous models of
the Spectrum in his homeland. Sales started in Spain in the second half of
1985, followed about half a year later by the UK.
The timing was bad, far away from the Christmas season that was, and is, a
very important opportunity for companies to make profit. Partly because of
this, the Sinclair 128 was not as successful as could have been
The last real Sinclair
The 128 was the last real Sinclair. The rights would be bought by
Armstrad, which manufactured the successors: the Spectrum 2 and the
Specifications of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum+
||32 KB (split in 16 for the
Spectrum 128 mode and 16 for the Spectrum 48 mode)
||32 x 24 characters
||3 channels, 7 octaves
(sound chip Yamaha AY-3-8912)
||extension port, cassette,
tv, monitor, keypad, RS 232/Midi
||180 British pounds
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