When we think about great British inventors and business men, the names Sir James Dyson and Sir Alan sugar spring to mind but we often overlook the man who brought the personal computer to our homes and slimline calculators to the satchels of school children. His name is Sir Clive Sinclair.I am not going to bore you with dates and stats regarding Clive Sinclair's achievements , that can be found in a simple Wiki search. Instead I will give a personal view of how he brought cutting edge technology into our homes .
In 1982 my parents bought me my first computer for my 9th birthday , it was the Sinclair ZX81 and it consisted of a small black box that I plugged into my small black and white portable television to experience the full magic of this state of the art home entertainment device.
This turned me away from my Star Wars figures and catapulting me into the 21st century with a passion for this new weird and wonderful invention that made a plastic Luke Skywalker redundant and forced to go to the attic with the rest of my old toys.
Whilst the Falklands conflict was being fought many miles away I was hammering away at a small computer in my bedroom (Some things never change)Â trying to program in a game of hangman on a keyboard that heated up to the point that the tips of my fingers felt like they had been pressed firmly on a hot radiator for a month. Then I realised I could save games onto tape on a small cassette recorder and reload them at will.
That sound of a game loading over what seemed like an eternity was like music to my ears, it meant that my imagination now had a new way to express itself so I bought magazines with written out games for programing and prepared my own entertainment with a few minor adjustments.
Who said personalising games is a new thing? I was doing it in 1982.
OK the machine was not perfect but it was the realisation of Clive Sinclair's dream to bring the personal computer into the home and he succeeded in that. Then shortly after the ZX81 came the ZX spectrum which boasted colour and sound.
Games like Jet pack and Jet Set Willy dragged you into new realities where you were the hero in pixelated graphics but the advantage of the graphics that were only semi representational dots (due to the limits of the machine) meant your imagination was set on fire filling in the gaps.
With the slimline calculator and the personal computer under his belt it would seem that Sir Clive could do no wrong, that was until he unveiled the Sinclair C5. The C5 was a three wheeled electric car with pedals which he hoped would revolutionise the that we travelled, but it was not well received.
I remember a friend of mine had one and I thought it was great fun to drive around in but prone to breaking down. So Clive became the butt of jokes and even had a character on spitting image which was the subject to much ridicule due to the unpopularity of the C5.
All rather sad when you think that this genius of a man had tried to better the lives of the many with good intentions and save the planet from the pollution of the car and whats wrong with trying to make a few quid out of it?
We all make mistakes and I for one would like to raise a glass to Sir Clive Sinclair and his vision.