PRICES of the Spectrum have been slashed. The 48K version now costs £129.95 and the 16K £99.95. That is a reduction of £55 on the 48K and £25 on the 16K.
The move is expected to cause chaos in the home computer market. It is believed the reductions were prompted by competition which, while it is not yet a serious threat, is thought to be growing quickly.
The price of the 16K is now the same as that of the 16K Oric, which many see as the most immediate threat.
The 48K price, however, is a good deal less than that of the corresponding Oric.
Smiths has also cut the price of the ZX-81 by £10 to £39.95.
The price of the ZX Printer has been reduced by Sinclair Research from £59.95 to £39.95.
The announcement was a great surprise to many in the market. There had been rumours of a reduction when the TS2000 version of the Spectrum was announced in the States. The prices of that greatly-modified machine were put at $149.95 for the 16K and $199.95 for the 48K. Depending on exchange rates, that is equivalent to British prices of about £95 and £125.
It would not be possible to use the TS2000 in Britain because of the different television systems, so an early fall in the price was thought unlikely.
A sharp increase in sales is now expected. Production of the Spectrum is now running at about 50,000 a month and the company has plans to increase that number substantially this year.
THE CAMBRIDGE half-marathon, sponsored by Sinclair Research for £5,000, is to be run on Sunday, July 17. It is the second year of the annual race and up to 2,000 competitors are expected, including keen marathon runner Clive Sinclair.
The half-marathon is part of Cambridge Festival Week, which begins on July 16. The co-sponsors of the event are Cambridge City Council and the local athletic club, Cambridge and Coleridge. They hope to build on the success of last year's event which was won by the fastest U.K. marathon runner, Ian Thompson.
The funds raised will be used to develop the local sports club's new track and field headquarters.
The race will start at 10 am from Parker's Piece. The two-lap course round the city will be by way of Fen Causeway, Grantchester and Trumpington.
A TWO-DAY course in Z-80 assembly language programming is scheduled for the City of London Polytechnic.
The Z-80 processor is at the heart of Sinclair machines and the course is for anyone wanting to learn machine code or how the Z-80 functions.
The organisers hope that it will strip some of the mystery from the subject and extend the programming abilities of a microcomputer user. They claim that by the end of the course a student will be able to write machine code programs which can either be called as routines from Basic programs or stand alone.
The course will be staged on June 28 and 30. The fee is £15 and application forms are available from The Short Course Unit, City of London Polytechnic, London.
SINCLAIR Research is providing 200 computer systems for use in a network of summer camps run for children by Dolphin, an activities holiday group.
The group was formed last year with the assistance of the Department of Industry Education Unit and the equipment was provided then by Apple Computers. This year it is the Sinclair ZX-81 and Spectrum which will be the focus of attention. Nicholas Goddard, Dolphin publicity co-ordinator, says:
"The people at Sinclair Research have been very helpful. We would like to thank them for all the assistance they have given to us."
The camps were set up to provide week or weekend holidays for children and Goddard says they are not just summer schools. The emphasis is on having fun and enjoying computing. There is a wide variety of other pursuits available, so it is not all to do with computers.
The other pursuits include video film and cartoon making, go-carting, windsurfing and horse-riding. They are to complement the work done indoors on the computers.
Dolphin concentrates on three main areas of technology - computer programming in Basic and then in other languages such as Pascal and Logo. The children will also have an opportunity to learn the techniques of interfacing to control and even build robotic devices.
Further information can be obtained from Nicholas Goddard, Dolphin Activity Holidays, London.
THE WINNER of the competition at Northern Premier Exhibition Pudsey computer show was James Wilson, aged eight.
The prize was a Spectrum, with which he was delighted. Wilson already owned a ZX-81 and had been saving for a Spectrum. Now, he says, his dreams have come true.
The competition was in aid of the Hyperactive Children's Support Group.
MEMOTECH, manufacturer of alternative RAM packs for the Sinclair ZX-81, is launching a computer this month. Until recently the new £200 machine had been shrouded in secrecy. Few people would talk about its specification or even confirm that such a machine existed.
The computer, which as yet has no name, has a black aluminium body, a three-channel sound generator and the capacity to hold up to 512K of switchable RAM. It has two joystick ports as standard, with the addition of disc drives, will take any combination of 8in. and 4in. floppies.
The standard screen resolution is 40 columns wide, with an option of 80 columns. That makes the machine capable of supporting business software. The 16 colours available will appeal to games players, as will the availability of large graphics characters, called sprites, which have so far been implemented only on two other microcomputers.
The machine can be used by beginners in computing, as the option of a 'very basic' Basic will be available. At the other end of the scale the computer will be the first inexpensive micro to support the CP/M operating system. That means that complex business programs which, until now, have been suitable only for such machines as the Apple will run on the new machine.
SALES of the RD Digital Tracer have been so buoyant that the company which manufactures it, RD Laboratories Ltd, has had to move to new premises in Wales.
A new manufacturing base has been set up at Cwmbran, Gwent because delivery dates were beginning to slip. With the new facilities, managing director Bob Dickens claims that orders which are now being placed will be met well within the 28-day delivery period promised by the company.
The Tracer costs approximately £50 and allows a Spectrum or ZX-81 owner to transfer a picture from a book straight into the computer and on to the television screen.
The device already has a number of serious uses, including one in the medical profession to produce a fast read-off of areas of irregular shapes.
The new facilities will make it possible for RD Laboratories to make its range of consumer products available through retailers. The move has already begun.
THERE HAVE been suggestions in the last few months that Sinclair Research will be producing a number of ROM cartridges for the Spectrum.
Those cartridges would plug directly into the machine and allow instant access to programs such as games or utility routines, assemblers or new languages.
A spokesman for the company declined to comment on what would be a new development in the Sinclair market. There is still no further news on Microdrive.
THE NEXT ZX-Microfair will be at Alexandra Palace, London, on June 4, from 10am to 6pm. The price of admission will be £1 for adults and 50 pence for children and senior citizens, but the new venue will give exhibitors and visitors twice the amount of space available at the last show.
Extra seating facilities will be available for people who want to rest after looking at the exhibits and there will also be three bars and two buffets for hot snacks.
All the usual features will be in the show, including the Bring and Buy stand and the showguide, which will contain programs and articles about Sinclair machines. New features will include a chess tournament, played between Sinclair-based programs.
There is a rail link to the venue from King's Cross and an Underground link from Moorgate. It is also possible to travel by the Victoria Line to Highbury and Islington, then cross to the British Rail train to Alexandra Palace. If you travel by car there are full parking facilities.
Advance tickets for the show can be obtained from Mike Johnston, London.
THE LEGAL differences between the software house Quicksilva and a London-based shop operating a buy-and-try scheme have been resolved.
Under the original scheme, customers were able to return cassettes bought in the normal way from The Software Centre of Wigmore Street and obtain an 80 percent refund. The refund was available only against the purchase of another cassette of equal or greater catalogue value and could be claimed only within a six-month period.
Three software houses, including Quicksilva, protested at the length of the period. They claimed that it might be possible for customers to make pirate copies of tapes before returning them to the shop.
Quicksilva has withdrawn its complaint because of undertakings by The Software Centre. The period during which customers can return cassettes has been shortened to one month and the shop will make clear on all its advertisements that Buy 'n Try is not a form of software library. Customers are being asked to sign a declaration to the effect that they will not copy tapes.