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Welcome to the nostalgic history of home and game computers  

the Speccy in another shape

In 1984 Sinclair launched the ZX Spectrum+. A fully suitable name, because the 'Plus' was nothing more then a face lifted normal ZX Spectrum, the big bang for Sinclair that was launched two years before.
The Spectrum+ tried to solve the biggest minus of all Sinclair computers so far: the awkward keyboard.

Better touch
On the Plus the rubber keys of the normal 'Speccy' were replaced by a plastic keyboard with a much more mature look. Compared to other home computers and the PC that was coming on, the keyboard left a lot to be desired. But the touch of the keys was much better and moreover, Sinclair now had equipped the Spectrum with a normal, longer space bar. It sounds trivial, but try to imagine or to remember how typing is with a space bar with the format of a normal key. Another difference with the first Spectrum was the reset button on the left side of the case, which made it almost impossible to reset accidentally.
The keyboard was clearly based on that of Sinclair's 'business computer' that also started its career in 1984, the Sinclair QL.

spectrumplus-upgrade.gif (160531 bytes)Competition
Sinclair had several reasons to facelift the first model of the ZX Spectrum. In 1982 the Spectrum had rather revolutionary looks with its coloured design, but two years later its appearance was out of date in comparison with other home computers, like the formidable opponent Commodore 64.
Besides, Sinclair wanted to compete with the huge number of manufacturers that sold cases to provide the Spectrum from 1982 with a better keyboard. So in addition to the ready-built Spectrum+, Sinclair also started to sell a case with which the normal Spectrum could be upgraded to the Plus model. When assembled skilfully, one couldn't see any differences with a ready-built Spectrum+.


Varying quality

In the UK about ten different cases were available from other manufacturers to upgrade the first model ZX Spectrum. Many of them were also sold in the rest of Europe. Design, quality and prices varied widely.


One of the first and best-known manufacturers was DK'Tronics, that sold a sober case that required some skill from the user to assemble. ASM/Low Profile, for instance, offered a better looking and better functioning alternative. 

Many keys fell out
In the Netherlands the prices of the cases varied widely, from 100 tot 400 guilders. The upgrade from Sinclair was sold for about 140 guilders. In test reviews in computer magazines the Sinclair upgrade never scored better than the middle bracket, so Spectrum users kept purchasing alternative cases. One of the major problems of the Sinclair upgrade was that many keys eventually fell out. According to reports, on average 30 percent of the keys became defective.

Specifications of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum+

Manufacturer Sinclair Research
Period 1984 -
CPU Zilog Z80A
Frequency 3,5 MHz
Text mode 32 x 24
Graphic mode 256x192
Colours 8
Sound speaker, 1 channel, 5 octaves
I/O tv, cassette, extension port
Price 180 British pounds
50 British pounds for the upgrade kit

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

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