Sunday, December 14, 2014

30 years ago this year...

...A fellow named Clive Sinclair of England marketed a new computer.  Its initial designation was the ZX-83, following in the steps of the ZX-80, 81 & 82.  We all knew it better by its official name, the Sinclair Quantum Leap.
The Sinclair QL computer was based on a 68008 CPU.  It came with a word processor program, a presentation manager, a database manager, and a spreadsheet program.  In its 48K of ROM was a multitasking operating system, plus the SuperBASIC programming language.  The only bad thing was, Sir Clive was trying so hard to keep the price down, he used tape-based Microdrives instead of floppy disks.
I believe if Clive had included a floppy drive, the QL would have carved out a large niche for itself in the personal computer world.
I bought mine by mail order in 1986.  I learned spreadsheets and databases on it.  I also designed and built a floppy drive interface for the QL.  In about 1992, I got the brilliant idea to put the QL mainboard inside an old Kaypro box.  The Kaypro was a Z80-based portable computer that ran the CP/M operating system.  Anyway, I planned to use the built-in CRT monitor.  I never completed the project, and the box wound up in a corner for many years, until I got the idea to fire up the QL recently.
First, I rescued the QL mainboard from the Kaypro box.  The, I found I still had the QL case and power supply.  I have the mainboard back in its original home - as you can see, above.  Would you believe you can still order new keyboard membranes for the QL?  I have 2 of them on the way.  The QL's video is meant for TV use.  I will use a regular VGA monitor, with a composite-video-to-VGA adapter.  When I went online to see what could be seen of the QL, I learned that there was an actual observance of the 30 years since the QL came onto the market.
So - the QL is currently on my bench, as I get it back together.  And try to figure out where that floppy interface board went to.

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