Your Spectrum
Issue 9, November 1984 - Spectrum+ Preview
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T O   C O M E ?
More than just a rumour ... Your Spectrum's Roger Munford gives you a sneak preview of the latest addition to the Sinclair Research range of computers - the soon-to-be-released ZX Spectrum+.
This time last year, the spicier rumours around town concerned the identity of the new machine Sinclair Research was keeping very close to its chest. Speculations ranged from a complete re-design for the business market (which it turned out to be) to an upmarket Spectrum re-package, complete with Interfaces 1 and 2 and Microdrives (which also played their part in the QL's design). However, once the QL was launched, all thoughts of any other machine were lost in the press attention that followed ... until now.


Your Spectrum has good reason to believe that Sinclair Research will be launching a new machine to hit the market just before Christmas. Called the Spectrum+ (Plus), the computer will look a little like a QL, only not quite so big, incorporating a QL-like keyboard - complete with Space bar, separate cursor keys, left- and right-hand Shift keys, additional command keys, and a membrane beneath the keyboard.
The first signs of any future development was the announcement that Sinclair Research would be "doubling production of the Spectrum allowing production to ramp up to over 200,000 units per month by the end of the year" (as reported in YS Frontlines issue 7). OK, so we know Sinclair Research has cracked the foreign computer markets of late ... but 200,000 per month?
At a recent 'selected' press meet, Managing Director Nigel Searle was up against a barrage of questions as to what announcements Sinclair Research would be making - just what was its next computer going to look like? Sensing no real meat to the question, Searle threw it back at the audience, "What would you do?". To the rather astute suggestion that it could be "a re-packaged Spectrum with a new keyboard, but maintaining software compatibility", Searle deflected the remark skillfully with another question,
"Why would we want to do that? The Spectrum's already a successful product - this new machine would cost around £149/159 ... does that seem to make commercial sense to you?". After much wise shaking of heads from those assembled, the idea was dismissed as ridiculous.
But it's not that ridiculous when you really think about it. OK, the Spectrum's an old product - in terms of computing, it's positively ancient! But that's not to say that it's out of date - the Spectrum is still extremely good value for money and the support it has from software and hardware companies is unbelievable - and that's over two years after its launch.
Think back to the press release announcing the production figures for the Spectrum - 200,000 per month by the end of the year. Now cast your eyes over the illustration we've constructed of the Spectrum+; the casing for it is very similar to that of the QL, so presumably the equipment to manufacture it would only have to be slightly tailored to suit the new machine's dimensions. Is it all beginning to make a bit more sense? Yes, it seems that Sinclair Research could be in the position to not only announce the Spectrum+ over the next few weeks, but also to have some of the devices available for sale immediately!


The rumours of the new machine were strongest at the PCW Show, where an announcement was supposed to have been made. But the show passed without comment and it is left for Nigel Searle to make the final contribution, "I can't comment on the possibility of a new machine - but I can promise you the Spectrum, in whatever form, will be with us for many years to come." Searle also mentioned the possibility of TV advertising, supposedly over the pre-Christmas period, which will be used to promote Sinclair Research products. Could this be a hint that it's for the Spectrum+? Watch this space for further developments ...
Width: 320mm
Depth: l50mm
Height: 50mm (at back); 40mm (at front)
16K ROM (containing Basic interpreter and operating system)
The screen comprises 24 lines of 32 characters Bit-mapped graphics with resolution of 256 x 192. 16 pre-programmed block graphics. 21 user- definable graphics characters. Eight colours (plus FLASH, two brightness levels and an independent Border colour.)
System bus connector. (From the information available to YS it would seem that the Interface 1 unit will need substantial re-design to connect to the Spectrum+.)
Sockets for cassette storage and TV.
ZX Basic and Z80 assembly language.
58 moving-key membrane QWERTY layout (a' la QL). All keys have auto repeat. Although the majority of the Spectrum+'s keys can each access up to eight separate functions (using a similar Shift system to that used by the Spectrum), the Spectrum+ has a number of command-specific keys to ease accessibility; these include separate cursor keys, left- and right-hand Shift keys, Edit, Delete, Inverse Video, True Video, Break, Extended Mode, Graphics Mode, as well as a much larger Space Bar. There's also the possibility of separate List, Save and Load keys.
The Spectrum+ will come complete with a new manual, containing a guide to the computer's operation and an introduction to ZX Basic. There will also be a 'Horizons+' tape for first-time users to get the hang of manipulating cassette- based programs.
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