Memorable Moments #1 : The Sinclair ZX81 Wobble

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Now the ZX81 was a class machine that I am sure we will cover in more detail in the future on the site.

As standard, Mr Clive Sinclair’s marvel came with a whopping 1k of memory. Think about it, 1k. There is absolutely nothing you can do with 1k these days and to be frank, even back then 1k didn’t get you that much more. So to extend the capabilities of the little black and white computer, the first expansion that every proud ZX81 owner purchased for their beloved new toy was the infamous 16k RAM pack. Why infamous I hear you ask? Well let me explain.

Back in the early 1980’s when Scalectrix and Action Man ruled the roost, it was generally considered ‘fashionable’ by computer enthusiasts, for want of a better word, to type in BASIC computer game listings from magazines. Once entered, the next hour or two after was spent debugging the aforementioned code to make the game work unless, that is, the dreaded “Ram Pack Wobble” curse struck during this time.

ZX81

 

There you were all hot, bothered and flustered after a 4-hour stint ensuring that what was typed in the magazine was replicated 100% within the memory of the ZX81 when low and behold, your ZX81 crashes. Somehow during the execution of the ‘run’ command you moved the computer by 0.1mm which meant that the RAM pack moved by 0.1mm which in turn meant that the connection of the RAM pack to the ZX81 expansion port became ever so miss-aligned which meant that the black and white TV that had, by this time, burnt holes in to the back of your eyes laughed at you patronisingly by displaying a very empty, extremely bright white blank screen.

And what did we do then. We adjusted the rubber bands a little to minimise the ‘wobble’ happening again, reset the computer, take a deep breath and settle down for another four hours as we typed in the listing again.

What a warm memorable moment! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

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