Though many reading this will perhaps be too young to remember the days of pre-Nintendo gaming, there are those amongst us who still remember the glory days of the ZX Spectrum. The Spectrum was Sir Clive Sinclair's answer to the rapidly booming video game industry, which was about to hit its first genuine hurdle with the collapse of Atari. In the halcyon days of early 1982, however, the Spectrum arrived as a reaction to the computer systems on the market, by allowing users to plug the console directly into their television sets. Whilst it might seem more than little preposterous now that such a thing would be cause for celebration, it genuinely revolutionised gaming, and paved the way for Nintendo and Sega later in the decade.
Sinclair Spectrum Vega Advert
The console obviously holds quite a significant amount of nostalgic value too, as a recent crowd-funding effort on IndieGoGo by Sinclair himself, to relaunch the Spectrum in a fresh, updated shell, reached its £100,000 target in just over 48 hours! The first 1,000 units of the Sinclair Spectrum Vega have already been funded, meaning the console, which takes the form of “Micro-controller,” that plugs directly into your TV, has gone from dream to reality in less than the time it would take to boot up an old Commodore 64 game! (slight exaggeration there, but you get the idea)
The IndieGoGo campaign to launch the Vega reached it's £100,000 target in just over 48 hours!
According to Sinclair, the console, which has been designed in the same matte black as its predecessor and with the same iconic rainbow stripe, has been made possible due to “Major advances in technology” over the past 32 years, which have led to “Big cost savings.” As a result, the new Spectrum will not only be able to play all 14,000+ original games, but will do so with an expanded colour palette and will cost “Well below £100.”
The console will ship with 1,000 games built in and will be fully upgradable through software updates
The console will also ship with 1,000 games built in and will be fully upgradable through software updates. A working prototype has already been created, and backers are currently in the process of contacting as many original Spectrum game developers as they can in order to secure permission to use their games on the new system. It was developed by Chris Smith, a former ZX Spectrum games developer, and will be marketed by Luton-based start-up Retro Computers, in which Sir Clive’s company Sinclair Research is a shareholder.
In Russia, until recently, the ZX Spectrum was still “The most plentiful computer in the country”
Sinclair said he's been thinking about the idea to revive the Spectrum “For 15 years or so,” because so many people he met and articles he read were telling him that “The Spectrum had made a big difference to their lives.” He also added that in Russia, until recently, the console was still “The most plentiful computer in the country,” which made him realise that “Even nowadays the Spectrum is a great-value product.” He adds that “In the 1980s it was necessary for computer enthusiasts to spend quite a lot if they wanted to build up a good-sized library of games, but with the current technology we can provide the games free, already in the Vega’s memory, and we can give away more games later.”
Meet the team behind the Sinclair Spectrum Vega
Adding an extra incentive for those on the fence about this decidedly retro gadget, 10% of all sales will be donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. So what do you think of the Vega? Is it a neat nostalgia trip? Or a pointless diversion that couldn't possibly hope to live up to the glitz and glamour of the PS4 and the Xbox One? Sound off in the comments below.
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer, struggling musician and gaming enthusiast from Kidderminster in the UK. He never owned a Spectrum himself, though did own a version of Manic Miner on his Commodore 64 that friends always told him was drastically inferior.