Retro Home Computers – ZX Spectrum 16K / 48K


ZX Spectrum 16K / 48K,
1981 – 1987

ZX Spectrum Newspaper Ad

Above: ZX Spectrum Newspaper Ad

The original ZX Spectrum came in two memory configurations: the 16K and 48K version. This was the first computer put out by the Sinclair Research company. The 48K version was the most popular version sold and is still remembered fondly by many who owned the computer and by some that stillown it today.

Like all ZX Spectrums, both clones and licensed versions, the ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit home computer centered around the Z80 processor running at 3.5MHz, a fast speed for an 8-bit machine at the time. The Commodore 64, for example, ran just under 1MHz.

Rubber Keyboard

The original ZX Spectrum is well remembered for its rubber keyboard. While doing research for the ZX Spectrum, many users recounted how the 48K spectrum with the rubber keyboard was their favourite. Other distinctive features incude the rainbow, which was removed on future ZX Spectrums.

Another reason for the 48K model being so popular is that it was easy to upgrade the 16K model to 48K with a 32K module. While expensive at the time, the 32K module became much cheaper over time leaving few with just an 16K model.

Retail Price

The ZX Spectrum sold in two different models, and no others. The 16K version sold for £125.95 pounds (~$200) and the 48K version sold for £179.95 pounds (~$275). As mentioned above, 32K memory modeuls were avbailable for about 40 pounds.

ZX Spectrum 32K Expansion

Above: ZX Spectrum 32K external expansion

ZX Spectrum 32K Expansion

Above: ZX Spectrum 32K internal expansion

Strong Competition

The ZX Spectrum had fierce competition from many computer manufactures. The Commodore 64 was the top selling computer model to this day and was based out of the United States. The ZX Spectrum went u against the BBC Micro on home turk in Englandn and in Europe, but the BBC Micro did not see light in the Americas. Other competition was received from the Atari 400 , 800, 600XL and 800XL. While many other computers were on the market, few other than the ones mentioned here gave the ZX Spectrum much competition.