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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.

zx spectrum 128 keypad




Welcome to the nostalgic history of home and game computers  


sinclair zx spectrum 128When 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 Spectrum+, 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.

RAM disk
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.

reclame sinclair zx spectrum 128Finally: real sound!
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.


Basic editor
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.

menu zx spectrum 128Menu
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).

Not compatible
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 expected. 

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 Spectrum 3.

Specifications of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum+ 128

Manufacturer Sinclair Research
Period 1985-1986
CPU Zilog Z80A
Frequency 3,5 MHz
ROM 32 KB (split in 16 for the Spectrum 128 mode and 16 for the Spectrum 48 mode)
RAM 128 KB
Text mode 32 x 24 characters
Graphic mode 256x192 pixels
Colours 8
Sound 3 channels, 7 octaves  (sound chip Yamaha AY-3-8912)
I/O extension port, cassette, tv, monitor, keypad, RS 232/Midi
Price 180 British pounds

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History of Home and Game Computers, by Erik Klooster, the Netherlands

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