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View Full Version : Timex Sinclair - did anyone actually use this



MattCarp
April 27th, 2009, 07:44 PM
For a brief period of time I had a Timex Sinclair in my collection. This was actually the second Timex Sinclair - I had one back in the day when Timex was liquidating the old stock for $30-35 each. All I was ever able to do with it was run Chess. I didn't have the patience for anything else.

Anyway, when I bought one about 5 years ago, I realized just how painful it was to work with.

Don't get me wrong, I think it was a marvel of engineering at that time - four chips for the whole computer, and two of them were memory chips!

Did anyone take it any further?

I always thought that the Memotech expansion modules were a great design and with the addition of the 64K RAM and RS232 adapter you could start to do something, but did anyone else actually use the computer? What did you do with it?

patscc
April 27th, 2009, 07:54 PM
They made handy el-cheapo controllers for stuff if you didn't mind writing the code in assembler. If you took the RF-modulator out, the power consumption wasn't too bad either.
patscc

NeXT
April 27th, 2009, 08:35 PM
Apparently my uncle did as he had a ZX81 in his possession along with all the documentation for it (though the fact it was in the basement and his VIC 20 was under his bed might say otherwise). I have it now and I really want to try it but I'm having a tough time trying to locate the Sinclair 16K ram module (which are more sensitive to vibrations than nitroglycerin) and I think he permanently modded th emodulator so it would only work on PAL tv sets (or he just trimmed one of the lines off that leave the modulator box).

mbbrutman
April 27th, 2009, 09:18 PM
I had a TS 1000 - it was my first machine. I had the 16K RAM pack expansion and the small thermal printer.

It was amazing what they did. It certainly was not competitive with other computers on function, but the price was great. I programmed it mostly in BASIC.

If I had understood more about computing at the time I would have gotten a lot more out of it. The Z80 is quite a capable processor. There were also some great 3rd party expansions - Memotech ring a bell?

I'd love to get started with the TS 1000 again. But it really needs a 3rd party keyboard and a better RAM expansion interface to be usable. But by now I almost have enough knowledge to buy an SRAM and construct my own RAM expansion for it. Better storage options would be nice too - I'll bet that a PC playing 'cassette recorder' wouldn't do too bad.

Vint
April 27th, 2009, 10:13 PM
Ah yes the good? old Timex 1000. It's like WAR, what's it good for? Absolutely nothin'!
I did find this use for mine.

http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/picture.php?albumid=1&pictureid=107

Keeps my car from rolling back when I'm changing the oil :)

Mine is just dead now, but I don't have the heart to pitch it. It sets in a box along with it's 16K RAM pack and a couple of books.
It would be nice to just encase the whole thing into a 9" or so solid plastic cube just to set on a desk as a oversized paper weight.

Or pull the board, label it, picture frame it, and hang that on the wall :)

http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/picture.php?albumid=1&pictureid=100

I've resigned myself to just using an emulator now, like Jeff Vavasour's Timex 1000 DOS emulator (ts1000-d.zip)

or the nifty JAVA online Timex 1000 emulator he has here -

http://www.vavasour.ca/jeff/ts1000/

arjoll
April 27th, 2009, 10:21 PM
My first computer was a ZX81. Had the RAM pack and ZX-Printer.

Unfortunately I managed to kill the first one messing around with the edge connector :(

Bought another one for NZ$20, sold it with the printer etc for a similar amount in the mid 80's. I regret that now....

I used it for very basic programming (no pun intended), but at one point I spent an hour or so keying in about four pages of very complex code that would print high res graphics on the printer. From memory it ran nicely, then the whole damn thing crashed!

One of the last games I saw on it managed to do high resolution (i.e. higher than the standard 64x44) graphics and was quite impressive, although still monochrome and silent. The first game I tried was a flight simulator which I think was just called 'Flight.' Press a key, wait about 20 seconds for the simulator to update something, press another key. Riviting stuff :)

Unknown_K
April 27th, 2009, 11:12 PM
My very first computer was a Timex 2068 (still have it actually), since I got it just before Timex went bust I learned to program on it. Never used the 1000 model , the 2068 had built in sound, decent RAM, somewhat better keyboard, and joystick ports so it was somewhat usable.

Chuck(G)
April 27th, 2009, 11:27 PM
I'm still waiting for Sir Clive to send me the parts to my Black Watch kit that he left out... :mad:

NeXT
April 27th, 2009, 11:47 PM
I still have a whole bunch of cassettes that I still have to sort through. There is a flight simulator I really want to try as well.

carlsson
April 28th, 2009, 03:42 AM
I'd love to get started with the TS 1000 again. But it really needs a 3rd party keyboard and a better RAM expansion interface to be usable.
In the mean time, you know there are several ZX-81 and TS-1000 emulators if you are inclined to use that kind of software. It may not give the same kicks as using the real deal but for bottom line software development, I strongly think emulation is the way to go these days. You get a real keyboard, powerful cross assemblers or tokenizers, usually very exact emulators with built in machine code monitors, all without putting more unnecessary wear and tear to your old computers. Hook it in when you are close to finishing your program or want to try out someone else's programs. Basically save your vintage computers for the glorious moments.

mpickering
April 28th, 2009, 08:11 AM
Funny you bring this up since I have a stack of TS 1000s and ZX-81s in my basement awaiting various degrees of repair.

My first computer was a TS 1000. And without the 16K pack because then I didn't know what it was and more importantly, I wouldn't have been able to afford it. It cost more than the computer.

I learned programming on that machine. I was 8 years old at the time and for two years, it was my computer. Slaved to an old B&W television and a cheap tape recorder. I did everything I could with that machine. Being a kid, I was limited to typing in programs from books and writing my own simple games. Where I am today I can owe a lot to that little computer.

I don't ever remember it being painful. Solely because I had no other comparison. Yes, I had friends with VICs and C-64s but those were expensive machines. I couldn't afford one. Envious yes but I made do with what I had. I found the TS 1000 fairly easy to work with. You just got used to it. Maybe the tiny keyboard was ideal for younger hands. There's something to it since a lot of netbooks today appear to be targeted as kid computers and have likewise small keyboards not much larger than the TS.

I'm not saving my TS machines for glorious moments. Now, I'm just trying to save them. Time, pardon the pun, has not been kind to the Timex. Out of my six machines, one is non-functional, three have solid B&W screens but partial or fully dead keyboards, one has the dark gray screen and no working keyboard and the one functional example I have with a working keyboard has the dark screen as well. My goal is to get two working machines to preserve and use the others as spares. For that, I expect to go through perhaps 8-10 machines. That's not a good survival rate.

This is what fond memories will do to you.

Matt

chuckcmagee
April 28th, 2009, 12:47 PM
They almost always have a working Z80 cpu in them, even if the keyboard cable has rotted and broken in half (which is the case on 50% of all the ones I have purchased). I was about to chuck a unsuccessful keyboard repair out the door when I remembered there was a perfectly good Z80 sitting there. It went into a "spares" pile instead.

Vint
April 28th, 2009, 04:57 PM
mpickering < Why I do believe you have 'captured' the spirit of what vintage computers has to offer. We all have our 'reasons' for being vintage collectors - but I especially understand your view.
Machines don't always have to be the most expensive ones for people to still enjoy, collect, and remember them. Some machines just have a unique character all their own.

MattCarp
April 28th, 2009, 07:13 PM
My first computer was a TS 1000.

I learned programming on that machine. I was 8 years old at the time and for two years, it was my computer. Slaved to an old B&W television and a cheap tape recorder. I did everything I could with that machine. Being a kid, I was limited to typing in programs from books and writing my own simple games. Where I am today I can owe a lot to that little computer.

I don't ever remember it being painful. Solely because I had no other comparison. Yes, I had friends with VICs and C-64s but those were expensive machines. I couldn't afford one. Envious yes but I made do with what I had. This is what fond memories will do to you.

Matt- that was really well said. I think you've really hit on something a lot of us on the board can relate to. This applies to me. Let me explain:

I was 11 when my family bought a TI-99/4, primarily for me, after a lot of pestering. Easily for the year prior, I was reading magazines about computers and the Radio Shack catalogs with all of the TRS-80 gear that seemed to multiply with every issue.

Anyway, buying the TI was a major deal - my father took out a loan for it, and I had to scrape my pennies to be able to buy the $14 cassette cable! I plugged the computer into a 13 inch black and white tv and played a lot of Football and Pinball (Video Games 1).

But, I wanted to play more games. No way could I afford even a single "Command Module" at $40-60. I was envious of the Apple guys who seemed to have an endless supply of games (on disks!). So, I started to program my own games in BASIC. That's how I got my start. I really learned a lot.

Only now have I learned how badly the TI-99 was architected. But for me, that was a really significant machine and time in my life.

nige the hippy
April 29th, 2009, 03:12 AM
I'm still waiting for Sir Clive to send me the parts to my Black Watch kit that he left out... :mad:

They were the bits that if you put them in, the electronics didn't fit in the case!

I soldered a spare keyboard (looking back from now, it was probably a surplus tape punch keyboard) into my ZX80, had to keep the (defunct) membrane handy for looking up the keywords I used less often, I made a very simple address decoder/latch as an expansion, and connected relays to some of the keys for input, so I could do "things" with my model trains.

The ZX80 was even more primitive than the '81 in that the display went mad while a program was running (there was no "slow" mode) however I think it cleared for "input"s and of course the external relays didn't need prompting.

It eventually went the way of all silicon (modified out of existence)

just to add to the Matt bit - we all had lower expectations (of the machines) then. Just doing a "hello world" program required a fair bit of thought, but was a great reward when it worked. The tape was a real pain though - and cassettes were quite expensive, so you had to put about 150 programs on a C60, and it took an hour to find the right one again!

carlsson
April 29th, 2009, 06:38 AM
Jeff Minter has written his life story, how it started with a PET 2001 in school and a few years later he got his own ZX-80:


And that flicker I'd seen on the news piece wasn't TV interference at all, it was a result of the fact that if the little machine was actually doing ANYTHING else apart from generating the display - running a program or even reading a key-press - then it had to turn off the TV display. This was a little disappointing. How were we going to make games move if the computer could only run programs with the screen off? It also made entering code a somewhat epilepsy-inducing experience.
http://www.llamasoft.co.uk/lshistory4.php

A very good read if you are entertained by that. It takes a while to read through it all though.

Bungo Pony
May 4th, 2009, 03:48 PM
I had a couple of Timex Sinclairs in my lifetime, and a few ZX81s with holes drilled in them (for ventilation?) I remember the damn 16K ram pack that hung on the back of the thing. One twitch and you'd crash the thing.

The keyboard was horrible. It was much like typing on a microwave oven. I even had that rubber overlay which made the problem twice as bad.

If they had thrown a couple of relays in that little box that could be turned on an off with a couple of BASIC commands, it would have been my favorite computer. But after being spoiled by the Vic20 and the Coleco Adam, the Timex Sinclair was completely useless to me.

XDanger
May 23rd, 2009, 02:17 PM
It also made entering code a somewhat epilepsy-inducing experience.

Irony much?

Nama
May 23rd, 2009, 11:16 PM
It was my first computer, and still one of my faves. The keyboard and the 16k rampack wobble sucked, but if you replace the keyboard and do the onboard 16k (or 32k) upgrade, it's a fantastic little machine. It's so stripped down, so simple and pure, and so easy to program and understand.
It's totally understated.

There are literally thousands of programs available in the web in .p format, and if you get a cool little piece java software called tapeutils.jar, you can convert the .p files to .wav, and load them to the ZX81 through the speaker port on your PC or mac.

The most impressive piece of software I've seen for ZX81 has to be 16k manic minor... in full hires! No color or sound of course...but that stuff is just added fluff anyway ;-)

Nama

Dwight Elvey
May 24th, 2009, 12:15 AM
I had a couple of Timex Sinclairs in my lifetime, and a few ZX81s with holes drilled in them (for ventilation?) I remember the damn 16K ram pack that hung on the back of the thing. One twitch and you'd crash the thing.

The keyboard was horrible. It was much like typing on a microwave oven. I even had that rubber overlay which made the problem twice as bad.

If they had thrown a couple of relays in that little box that could be turned on an off with a couple of BASIC commands, it would have been my favorite computer. But after being spoiled by the Vic20 and the Coleco Adam, the Timex Sinclair was completely useless to me.

Hi
What if I told you there was a simple fix for the Ram card, as near
as your local autoparts store.
Just coat the connector pins with dielectric grease. I use DC#4 that
you can get from electrical shops. I'm told audio shops have some stuff
that is suppose to work well.
Dwight

Sharkonwheels
May 24th, 2009, 04:53 PM
Heh - I have a box of TS1000's, including a ZX81, amemotech 32K upgrade NIB, Sinclair 16K pack, TS1500 with PSU, several cassettes that I have no use for.
Hated the TS1000 back when it was new, and my feelings haven't much changed since :)
Could not WAIT to get rid of it back then, and get a 64K CoCo2, which I still ahve to this day!

Also have one of the super-rare Sinclair X1 button radios.
I imported about 100 of them about 10 years back, and sold them on fleaBay.
Kept one new-in-packaging for posterity...

T

carangil
June 4th, 2009, 12:40 PM
I used to have one of these, with the wobbly RAM pack and mini printer. It was fun to goof around with, but it took forever to load or save anything! I always had to rewind the tape over and play with the volume trying to get anything to load!

Now I kind of want one :-)

Tupin
June 6th, 2009, 06:33 PM
I have a Timex Sinclair 1000, I recently just started collecting vintage computers. Sad thing is, it doesn't work and I have no idea why. The power is fine, the keyboard seems okay, the only thing out of the ordinary is that it's on a ZX81 board.

NeXT
June 6th, 2009, 09:28 PM
I have a Timex Sinclair 1000, I recently just started collecting vintage computers. Sad thing is, it doesn't work and I have no idea why. The power is fine, the keyboard seems okay, the only thing out of the ordinary is that it's on a ZX81 board.

The ZX81 ans the T1000 are the exact same thing. It's just a rebadged system.
First off, is the tuner wired right? You had the option of wiring it for either NTSC or PAL.

Tupin
June 6th, 2009, 11:00 PM
The ZX81 ans the T1000 are the exact same thing. It's just a rebadged system.
First off, is the tuner wired right? You had the option of wiring it for either NTSC or PAL.
How can you tell?