Thank you, Sir Clive Sinclair, on behalf of Reg readers whose careers and lives you have shaped • The Register

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Sir Clive Sinclair’s contributions to computing and business are well known, and we have done our best to celebrate his life in our obituary of the electronics pioneer, who passed away last week at the age of 81.

To mark his life, we considered it appropriate to also consider his impact on Reg readers.

Like many others, your contact’s first computer was a ZX Spectrum. The machine led to my presence in these pages, as I eventually joined the Australian Association of ZX Users (AZUA), which published its own magazine and invited contributions.

A die has been thrown.

I caught up with AZUA co-founder David Vernon, who told us, via email, “We all loved Clive. We loved his foresight, his eccentricity, and his desire to bring IT to people. masses.”

Referring to the ZX80 and ZX81, Vernon added, “But we found it so frustrating. Why did saving a few pounds give us such a crappy touchscreen keyboard? Why not give us 4K of RAM and not 1K? “

“But even those irritations had a silver lining. They showed us that we didn’t have to put up with everything a manufacturer gave us, but we could improve it. And maybe that’s the legacy. from Clive to my generation – we could do things that we never imagined. Clive gave us confidence that we could do smart things too. And we did. “

“Honestly, it’s because of Clive that I now run my own publishing business. Without my first experience writing and publishing computer programs and help pages, I wouldn’t be doing what I do. today.”

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Similar stories have poured in from all over the world as comments on our appreciation for the life of the great man.

“For me it was the ZX 48K,” commenter Mozzie wrote.

“It was upgraded to a Saga 1, with an amazing Saisho cassette player that never failed to load anything other than LoTR. Chuckie Egg, Dizzy, Wriggler, Harrier Attack, Target Renegade and even HiSoft Pascal … thank you Clive for empowering me to feed my family for the past 16 years.

“So so many aspects of my life are directly or only slightly related to my love for coding, electronics and technology in general, and it all goes back to those heady days of the early 80s sitting in my bedroom. in front of my Speccy, ”wrote another forum member, ChrisC.

Linus Torvalds was a Sinclair user: Among those influenced by Sir Clive was Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel, who worked on a Sinclair QL before turning to his most famous work. From 12:30 a.m. in the video below, he remembers his time with the QL.

Youtube video

A commentator named Allwallgbr shared his experience working for Sir Clive for two years in the 1970s and described the time as “years of hard work and fun filled with audio maintenance and demonstration at exhibitions. Hi-Fi.

“I have enjoyed the work and the buzz of the company so much that no other employer has come close in my entire professional life.”

Readers also remembered Sir Clive as possessing a strange charisma.

“An absolute genius with just the right amount of barminity to be a true British boffin,” said commentator with the John Brown grip (no body). “He even had the proper bald patch and boffin glasses.”

Others shared their experiences putting the Sinclair kit to work.

“I wrote a D&D game based on text-based graphics and fed all of the D&D stats to help automate the games,” wrote one Reg forum member named Danny 2.

Then he tackled something more difficult. “I tried and failed to write a conversation simulator to pass the Turing test: harder than I expected. “

“I think I freaked out my mom when she heard noises at 6 am. It was just my seven-year-old self desperate to see if SIN and COS would let me draw a circle on my ZX81 birthday present, ”wrote another reviewer, who uses the oddly apt name 0x80004005. (We assume this is a Windows error code.)

An email ad for the Telecom Australia Computerphone

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Sir Clive’s passing has hit some of you hard.

“I am currently crying like a baby here. It touched me a lot more than I thought it would. It marks the end of most of my formative years, and perhaps the biggest influence on my entry into a career, ”wrote commentator Stumpy.

“RIP to a massively imperfect genius,” our reader added. “A man of ideas often far ahead of his time. I’ll reserve you a decent glass of malt tonight.

A few readers donated Sinclair BASIC as a tribute:

GOTO Valhalla, wrote Dr G. Freeman

10 PRINT "RIP Clive you'll be missed"
20 GOTO 10

… came from a surfer named Dazzler.

The legacy continues: One measure of Sir Clive’s contribution was that emulators for his computers remain available to this day, even though some tributes such as the Spectrum Vega + have gone awry.

Classic games developed for the ZX Spectrum remain available in many forms, not just as image files for emulators. Manic Miner is now an app, just like Lords Of Midnight. Some other Spectrum classics have even been ported to Microsoft’s XBOX.

One of the people we asked for a Sinclair souvenir was Shane Muller, an Australian tech entrepreneur who in 2019 threw a really good party to celebrate his 30th birthday in the tech business. During this event, he brandishes the ZX81 that started it all.

Shane’s response to the news of Sir Clive’s death was to write him a letter:

Vale, Sir Clive. ®


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