Birthdays seem to come round quicker and quicker as you get older, time just relentlessly marches on. For the Sinclair ZX81, it’s time to celebrate its 37th birthday – I wonder if it is getting worried about the big four zero?
Launched on the 5th March 1981 as a followup to the ZX80 computer, this humble little wedge-shaped piece of plastic can arguably lay claim to the real start of cheap, affordable home computing for the masses. Yes, everyone knows about the awful “keyboard” and the tiny amount of RAM but for the price, it simply could not be beaten.
For such a humble system, it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer amount of software that became available. From iconic games such as 3D Monster Maze and Psion’s Flight Simulation, through learning tools such as the ZX81 Learning Lab to the huge amount of type-in listings published in magazines – you really were spoilt for choice.
The fact that even now, 37 years after it was launched, there is still not only interest in the system but there are people actively still support it with new software is a testament to how right Sinclair Research was with the original design.
Happy Birthday, ZX81 – Here’s to many more years!