SINCLAIR RESEARCH has claimed that it is the first company to sell one million home computers throughout the world. The company is now producing one computer approximately every four seconds on the production line in Dundee.
They are added to the 130,000 ZX-80s, 750,000 ZX-81s and 200,000 Spectrums already sold to users around the world.
In addition to one million Sinclair computers the company estimates that 600,000 computers have been manufactured under licence by Timex for sale in North America.
Clive Sinclair, chief executive and chairman of Sinclair Research, is very pleased with the figures. He says:
"The figures are a magnificent achievement for all concerned. With the ZX-81 entering its third year of production, the figures demonstrate beyond doubt the long-term viability of the computer as a consumer product."
The Sinclair claims are disputed by Commodore, which manufactures the Vic-20 and Vic-64 machines.
Commodore made a similar claim to that of Sinclair Research several months ago and states that it passed the one million mark last year.
INTEREST IN computers in the armed services is not concerned only with the technology of warfare. The Royal Air Force is to launch a computer association on May 7 at RAF Newton, near Nottingham.
There is wide interest in Sinclair machines and publicity officer Flight-Lieutenant Otridge, says he has a ZX-81. He says: "The association is not machine-based, although most members have their own machines which they take to their local clubs. What we aim to do is to provide a worldwide link for local station clubs.
"Members from as far away as Germany and Port Stanley have become interested. We want to help existing clubs and there are many of them and also to interest other stations sufficiently to start a club."
SOFTWARE manufacturers are becoming increasingly angry about the growth of lending libraries.
Tony Baden of Bug Byte, one of the biggest software houses in Britain, said: "We do not like these libraries at all. They are taking the royalties from authors and generally doing the industry no good."
Most companies regard software copying as stealing. Mike Meek of MikroGen said: "It is like walking into W H Smith and taking a £6 cassette without paying for it."
The lending libraries, however, insist that they are doing their best to keep on the side of the law. Steven Stones of the Software Lending Library said: "I will agree to any reasonable proposals from the software houses, as I feel that I am working on their behalf more than anyone else."
Alec Fry of the Sinclair Owners' Software Library said: "We deal only with tapes bought with the manufacturers' approval and operate only with their permission. Manufacturers benefit from our service because when a tape wears out we order more."
A BATCH of power packs for the Spectrum has been found to be dangerous and the company has mounted a major campaign to contact all the people affected.
The packs are being used with Spectrums sold since the beginning of the year and have a black and white lead.
The company says the numbers involved are relatively small, as only one supplier is involved. It also emphasises that only the power pack is involved and that the computer is safe.
Anyone with such a pack should cease to use it immediately and return it to Sinclair Research at a special depot which has been set up to deal with the problem at Cottenham, Cambridgeshire.
IN OUR LAST issue we dealt with shows and exhibitions throughout the country and stated that the Northern Computer Fair was to be held on March 12. That was an error and the date should have been March 26 at Stanningly.
REQUESTS by hardware manufacturers for the incorporation of a device, called a RAMCS, to allow extra ROMs to be used on the 48K Spectrum have been refused by Sinclair Research.
At the moment it is possible to put extra ROMs on to the 16K machine but, because of the way the extra 32K memory and decoders are arranged, it is impossible for such insertions to be made on the 48K Spectrum.
"The change is so simple," explained Stephen Adams, the man who put the modifications to Sinclair Research. "All that is required is a resistor and a piece of wire. The change could be incorporated into the production line or made when machines are returned for repair."
Adams also suggested that a company nominated by Sinclair Research could do the modification without invalidating the guarantee of a machine.
Manufacturers of EPROMs and other hardware add-ons are also interested in the modification, because it would allow them to sell chips to the public and also sell software in ROM. The RAMCS will also allow a second processor, such as the 6502, to be used. That is possible on the BBC microcomputer and would be an advantage on the Spectrum.
Kailafh Pandy of Cambridge Microelectronics is one of the manufacturers who would like to see the RAMCS installed. He said: "We would welcome it tremendously. We do not produce anything for the Spectrum yet because it is not possible to incorporate anything on to the board. We have heard a rumour that Timex is incorporating it on to the TS-2000 in the States and we would like it on the British version."
CLIVE SINCLAIR declined to address a meeting of the Institute of Electrical Engineers in February because a model of the Microdrive was not ready to be demonstrated at the meeting.
A representative of the company also declined the offer to attend the meeting held at the Institute's headquarters. The reason given by the chairman, Denis Flexney-Briscow, was that "the Microdrive has been delayed yet again. We promise to bring it to you later in the year, so continue to watch this space."
One of the last-moment speakers was Dr Ian Logan, author of several books on Sinclair ROMs, who has been working on the software for the Microdrive. He gave away no secrets but said:
"I may have written the software for the device but to be honest I don't know what is on the other end of the wire."
Other speakers were Andrew Hewson and Stephen Adams, who both contribute to Sinclair User. Hewson discussed the history of Sinclair machines and the structure of the Spectrum memory map. He also showed how a Basic program is stored in the machine.
Adams, no stranger to the hardware world, talked the audience through the various chips on the Spectrum printed circuit board and then showed the type of add-ons which can be used.
THIS MONTH Oric International Products is due to launch a series of peripherals for its new computer, the Oric One. They include a four-colour printer, modem and the capacity for the use of microdiscs on the system.
There are no definite dates for the launch of the products but Oric claimed at its launch in January that prototypes of the devices were ready and it was only a question of starting production. The Oric was sold by mail order until March, when Oric was launched in stores such as W H Smith and Currys. Peter Harding, Oric sales director, said:
"We knew we had a good product on our hands, but its success has far exceeded our original expectations. The more than 3,000 orders received from mail order customers were dealt with by the end of February."
THE SPECTRUM is to be used in a project to help diagnose and treat dyslexia, a disability which causes disorientation of the senses, particularly of sight, in the sufferer.
The project was started by Brother Henry, director of the Mayfield College for Boys, in 1980. At that time computers, such as the Pet and RML 380-Z, were used to produce the software, which was a result of some spare-time programming by boys at the college.
He says: "The response has been so great that it has become too great for me. I have had to delegate the responsibility to regional information centres.
"I am waiting for the Microdrive to arrive to do any further work. We think that the Spectrum is the ideal machine to use in this type of work because it is possible for most people to buy one."
CUSTOMERS who have ordered items from the jigsaw range of products manufactured by Phoenix Marketing have been experiencing delays in deliver. The two main reasons are that Phoenix had a fire at its premises and distribution was switched to another company, CAPS.
The agreement with CAPS has now ended because of problems with supplies from Phoenix. CAPS now says that since early February it has not been willing to accept any responsibility on behalf of Phoenix, which includes its previous arrangement of supplying refunds to people who had not received goods which had been ordered.
The software house Ground Control is experiencing delays in despatching orders. A spokesman for the company says that the stocks of products were available but because of staffing problems there is a backlog.
Harrison and Lockyer, a company which deals in hardware distribution, had a fire at its premises. As a result there are delivery problems.
The situation concerning the mail order firm Pretorius Systems is still being investigated. Customers of the company with a complaint who have not contacted Sinclair User are advised to write to the advertisement manager. Those customers who have contacted the magazine are advised that they will be updated on the situation in the near future.
Silversoft has had to move to a temporary address due to lack of space. It is now at Hammersmith Broadway, London. The company does not see any difficulties concerning orders and all customers should receive their goods in the usual time.
TO CONTINUE with the company growth, Sinclair Research has a new corporate structure. The re-organisation makes room for an enlarged board of directors and two divisions have been created to handle current and advanced products.
Clive Sinclair retains control as chairman and chief executive. He will supervise the advanced projects division, which at present is developing the flat-screen television.
Nigel Searle becomes managing director of the current products division. He will be responsible for marketing the personal computers already on the market, along with any peripherals launched and, of course, software. New products launched by Sinclair Research will be transferred to this division.
The board is to include four new members - Bill Matthew, finance director; Dave Hatten, production manager; Jim Westwood and David Southward, who have become research and development directors. Kenneth Dick, chairman of New Court Trust, has been appointed as a non-executive director.