Friday, April 3, 2009

Timex Sinclair ZX81: My First Computer


It was in the early 1980’s and computers were exorbitantly high priced for what you purchased specially by today’s standards. I was 39 years of age when I was introduced to a computer for the first time. I may have paid something like $60.00 for a Timex Sinclair ZX81 because this tiny appliance was priced for affordability and targeted to families. It was so small it could serve as a door stop.

The Timex Sinclair 1000 computer had 2K of program memory. The keyboard was printed on a large flat membrane, much like one might see on a microwave oven. It displayed B&W text and crude character based graphics on a TV set and it had no sound. It could be hooked to a cassette recorder or printer. A 16K expansion was available and I saved up enough money to buy one of these for $39 or so.

One could do some limited word processing, play chess and other elementary games. It was ridiculously slow but I had nothing with which to compare it so I waited while it did its thing. It wasn’t much but it was a mystery buster for me. From my experiments with this machine I soon moved to a more productive and utilitarian computer gifted to me by computer store owners for my use in the church office. I had joined the computer revolution.

One can still find these collector’s items.

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