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Sinclair's Charming Tech // #TBT

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there we go and it's still spinning up at least for me there we go giving it a minute alright so hey it is throwback Thursday and I have come across this item which is a sinclair zx81 computer from i believe a year called back in the day and it's a pretty marvelous machine that was originally in competition with, to become something like the BBC micro this thing has one kilobyte of ram on board and this other device here is a 16 kilobyte Ram expansion which plugs into this thingy back here and I don't have a TV to hook this up to so we're just gonna have to pretend and look at some YouTube videos but uh yeah Ooo what does it say on here FCC identification data haha haha cool and it's got this Sinclair logo made in England this was made in Britain um you've got a TV out and some ear earphones microphone and nine volts in pardon me by the way I've still got kind of a cold so I'm a little bit mumbling but at least we have sound yay *laughs* it's been such an issue uh I'm really interested in this little little keyboard apparently each of these buttons had up to like five functions and you can see that they have these different markings so you could change which one you were using based on the shift key there's a function key as well that you could combine with the other ones so let's take a look at what's online about this thing

first up we have the wikipedia page which is fascinating like this is a huge hole you can easily lose yourself in for an afternoon I have refrained from going all the way on this so I'ma leave you some tidbits to figure out if you go and read the article yourself but yeah this is an update to the zx80 previous model which was uh quite similar except that this one was designed to be as slimmed down as possible so they use as few components as possible using four chips where other people use forty umm and that drastically lowered the cost for one thing so actually where is the uh mmm mm mm mm BBC mmm-hmm no that's not the one here we go BBC Micro affair *coughs* pardon, um so the government was talking about releasing recommended computers uh for getting started in computing including the BBC micro which was built by a Acord a competitor which apparently wasn't wasn't as cool uh and so these folks ended up cutting their prices in half uh to 90 pounds for a whole assembly including a printer and uh that was pretty popular with schools this this thing in general was very popular um it sold more than 15 million units before being discontinued and there's a whole Wikipedia page a whole separate page of clones for this device because of how popular it was I really want to see this thing though the TK 83 because apparently it was gold okay I'm gonna see if I can find this real quick cuz I think that would be neat ohhh look at that! oh my goodness Wow see that that is baller the micro digital TK 83 personal computer I used to have a word for this I called things casio Punk and this is an aesthetic that I love it's so good aw! I grew up with like amica computers and stuff and so I have a huge appreciation for this aesthetic um other cool stuff it used cassette tapes uh to store programs on it so you could um buy programs on cassettes and also store them so *coughs* pardon um and that's how you saved and loaded data over the earrin like Jack's there and there was a oh no where's the thing I was reading before it turned out that like so these sort of obsolete technologically obsolete by this point mono cassette recorders and playback machines were really useful for this and so WH Smiths popular department store bought up a ton of those rebranded them as with their own branding and sold them like over a hundred thousand of them because they were able to rebrand them as tape storage for the Sinclair zx81 which is an interesting second life for that technology and of course they made a ton of money because those were obsolete so they were for audio recording and so they were really cheap yeah so once I got here the computer program was the TV show that the BBC was gonna start doing to get people into computing and the reason why the BBC micro was produced which is a predecessor spiritually to the BBC micro bit which is this device that not I'm gonna grab one ah BBC micro bit it's a the controller for micro controller for kids to learn programming oh why is this changing the format terrible anyway we're still on basically the same article yes this is the micro bit which has this five by five pixel display tons of programming options a and B buttons to push and super expandable it's got an accelerometer it's got a temperature center it's got radio Bluetooth Low Energy it's got a compass and then these little pins that are friendly to beginners and grown-ups alike I mean grown-ups can be pretty that I said beginners and advanced technical humans alike yeah so here's the zx81 article linked under this video and the computer program which we were talking about here is the golden TK 83 which is amazing in case for some reason it's switched out of that I knew it fix my broadcast software I think and the BBC micro so I hunted up a couple of videos of people using this here's one where they're plugging in the stuff and you can see it on the screen oh wow as you can see it took a little bit of a while to load stuff up on it there's a cassette player that's fake news with it good party hmm and here is the actual Frogger program running how amazing is that it's it's pretty amazing we can both just agree on that look at it your frog is a little X on the screen haha it's all ASCII art you know it's oh no you're so cool I love this I love it oh there's another one look at this helicopter 3000 ha ha there are museums all over the world by the way that that preserve things like this so you can actually go and play games like this in the modern era oh man so cool here's another one where they sort of show a little bit of the typing well I guess mainly he's just like waving his finger around over the keyboard but in a second this is computer file he's gonna talk about her show how to program yes he and he's pretty fast at this but also you could there was a way to type whole functions with a single using those key combos I talked about earlier so and look at these official cassettes they're lunar landing 21 combat and then other programs they have on that cassette tape haha Wow yeah so go check out that on computer file if you're curious it's a good week for vintage computing Evan Upton released its small demo is his first amiga game in 24 years for use abuse etc you can read this for yourself but he has released the source tarball online so you can go grab that it's on Twitter just go to Evan Upton so read and also you can check out last week's interview with Emily Velasco I guess I was a couple weeks ago now but she talked about this listen jukebox machine that she built how where did it go I probably should have pulled up the actual video on her channel wait it's in the description ha we always put the links in the description to the video so check this out but you can see the whole interview with Emily on our channel look at this gorgeous thing so this takes two impa's it video and it's basically an adaptation of a CRT or cathode ray tube monitor which i think was originally used for a security camera so you could in theory I think combine these two things and put the output of the Sinclair zx81 onto the ELISA jukebox who knows okay so that's that's part eight all about the zx81 that we have here and which I wish I could get hooked up to something right now but I can't sadly but another piece of Sinclair technology that I loved for a long time is the Sinclair c5 it's an old electric vehicle from 1985 and it's like halfway but it's not a car like the inventor Clive Sinclair was very emphatic about that and it's not a bicycle it's in between and it has sort of the worst aspect to like it's a bigger amount of bye but you don't have any shielding from the weather and it's very low to the ground it is street legal as a motorized machine and it just it it's in that perfect space where it really doesn't fit anyone's needs it's sort of like a scooter but not like you've got no storage if you're curious about it they've done a teardown on ee-vie blogs video channel you can see ok ok ok the coolest thing about this though or possibly the nerdiest I don't know best/worst you choose is that you have to drive it using handlebars that are located under your knees so where's a thing of him driving it I think it's over here at the end of the video no get back in huh you're not done yet I heard you can get on sidewalks as well what do they have two of them I'm so jealous but yeah look you could they they showed you internals this is the back of the vehicle behind the seat or the motors are located it apparently was just it didn't have good performance or range its top speed was 15 miles an hour which is 1/4 of as fast as their an electric skateboard that I saw recently which is terrifying in its own right but yeah guys he's someone driving this around if you're curious beyond the teardown that's visually done here there's a hole I think they linked to a whole schematic showing the c5 wiring diagram of the schematics is page you can pull up all the electronic information I love how old vehicles like we used to we had a DeLorean once that we brought on a hackathon tour around the US and it came with this magnificently beautiful binder full of diagrams and like solutions for how to fix it and like this whole huge poster showing the entire electrical schematic of the car and it's beautiful and you just don't get that anymore oh man I'm I've become the kind of person who says you just don't get that anywhere I wasn't gonna live when that thing was me but but it's gorgeous that doesn't mean I can't appreciate it um I definitely do appreciate the c-5 this is actually a really embarrassing picture a few years ago getting really excited in the Swindon's Computer History Museum and Swindon England where they have a hackathon or a hackerspace and Simon Webbe who runs or at least at the time around the hacker space it's super cool and let me sit in this Sinclair c5 and you can see where your hands are underneath your legs that's where the handlebars are that's where you steer it's ridiculous and you can also see my weird long brown hair whoa so my favorite video to come out of this particular online exploration is the hack by Colin Furze this takes a special mind Oh what I wouldn't give to ride this thing not this version this version is cool and I would love to write it I kind of street legal which is ridiculous but where does it actually show it being used you turn it into a monster truck oh come on show us the thing oh my goodness I want this so bad let's just fire no way not fair well that is a masterpiece anyway this video ends in a state of extreme jealousy I would give my left arm to ride this thing it's ridiculous um hopefully at some point I'm gonna be able to get to the x1 actually hooked up to a SUV or something and we can give it a go and I can learn how to have a beep poop on it because it looks like it's a little bit complicated – beep boop on the weird thing is it reminds me of a robot that I learned to program a little bit on when I was in elementary school there was like a little robot that looked a lot like this that had little buttons on it and you would just push like left-right up-down go stop and stuff like that I can't find like my Google foo is weak here I can't figure out what it was called or like find any pictures it was definitely it looked a lot like this and I have a feeling that that contributed a lot to my love of Casio punk maybe I'll have to rename it Sinclair Punk now I don't know but like you know Casio Timex Sinclair they're all producing these really just gloriously mid-80s technological styles and I dig it does it say back here yeah just general info um I don't want to take it apart so I'm not gonna because it's too cool for that but go check it out you can see people I'm sure someone's posted a teardown on this thing check out the zx81 and check out Terry Stewart and computerphile and go check out up in Evin up since a amiga game haha that looks super fun go check out the lissa jukebox in our interview from a couple weeks ago that's with Emily Velasco probably seeing that wrong and Sinclair c5 just amazing go look at the EEV blog tear down and test drive and colin furze is I'm so mad that this exists and I'll probably never get to write it oh man what it's not fair it's not fair I'll catch y'all and uh tomorrow I guess I have an awesome rest of your throwback Thursday and I'll see you soon ciao

Source: Youtube

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