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Sinclair ZX Spectrum keyboard review (rubber chiclet things)


Today we look at the infamous Sinclair ZX Spectrum keyboard. This microcomputer from the early 1980s had a notoriously bad rubber chiclet keyboard. Prepare for swear!

This was a piece of nostalgia I didn't expect this morning.
My first computer was a 16k ZX Spectrum with that horrific keyboard. Yes, I am old(ish).
Couple of extra pieces of info for you, if you're interested:

* The computer plugged into any TV, didn't require a special monitor
* To play games and to save anything you programmed, you had to hook up a cassette player/recorder to it.
* Loading anything was notoriously noisy and finicky - there was a sequence of cyan and red stripes with beeps and then yellow and blue stripes with different beeps. You got really good at telling if a load was going to fail by listening and watching the screen. If it failed, you rewound the cassette and started over.
* Not only did they fix the keyboard for the 128k plus version, they also had a version with a built-in cassette deck - I upgraded to one of those by saving babysitting money for 18 months and selling my 16k.Historically bad keyboard but the Speccy was a great little computer despite it.

It's a bummer it's such a bad keyboard, it would be cool to stuff a Pi inside it.

To understand how cheap these were,*
ZX81 was $70 (assembled), about $210 today.
ZX Spectrum was $140 in 1982, about $400 today.
Model F keyboard alone was $345 in 1981, about $1037 today!
Model M keyboard alone was $250 in 1985, about $650 today.

They were EXTREMELY cheap, but you can also see why rubber domes absolutely mopped the floor with those mechanical keyboards as soon as they became remotely usable. Imagine if your only options today was Dell, HP or Logitech for $50 and the next step up was a Ducky or Vortex for $600, few of us would invest in a mechanical, much less something custom at that price.

*Numbers are based on various sources and may not be exact but you get the idea.


  I actually used to try to use my Timex-Sinclair 1500 to do a bowling spreadsheet, typing on those little rubbery keys and printing out on the little narrow format thermal printer. 


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