Orphaned Computers & Game Systems

Vol. I, Issue 3    December 1994

The History of Timex Computers
Part I: The Timex-Sinclair 1000

by Dane L. Stegman

Timex 1000

Sinclair computers was begun in 1981 by a man named Clive Sinclair, who was from England. The first computer was the Timex-Sinclair ZX81. It came with 1K of memory. The next computer was called the Timex-Sinclair 1000, with 2K of memory. This was the first computer that I bought. In 1982, I paid $99 for it, plus another $49 for an item called the Timex-Sinclair 16K RAMpack.

The Timex-Sinclair 1000 had a membrane-style keyboard. One of the neat features of the machine was that you could type in programs by using the keywords printed on top of the keys. For instance, the letter L had "LOAD" as one of the keywords. [Was this done to conserve memory, like on the Bally Astrocade, or just to save keystrokes? Ed.]

Frogger Tape Case

Most programs for the 1000 came on cassette. One of the third-party software companies was Sega. They produced Frogger for the Timex 1000. Frogger required the 16K memory expander. The Timex 1000 had no sound capability or joystick ports. Also, it displayed only in black and white.

The next computer by Timex-Sinclair was called the Timex 1500. It came with 16K of memory, and it had a "chiclet" keyboard. The price in 1983 was about $125. It was a very nice improvement over the 1000. The keyboard was much better to type with, plus you got 16K built right into the machine. Of all the early computers, I think this one is the best.

Timex 1000

The Timex 1000 and 1500 had some drawbacks. Here are a few of them: Sometimes, loading a program could take over five minutes. The 16K RAMpack was plugged into the back of the 1000. If the computer wobbled or the RAMpack was not plugged in properly, the computer would crash. If you were typing in a program and that happened, the program would, of course, be lost.

Timex 2000

Timex also made a thermal printer called the Timex 1040, which plugged into the back of the 1000 or 1500. It was a 32-column printer that used thermal paper, which came on a roll. You could print out the program you had typed in, or you could type, say, a letter with a word processor, and then print it out.

I think that both machines are excellent beginner-type computers for learning the BASIC language. I own both machines.

In part two, I'll review the Timex-Sinclair 2068, the first color computer by Timex. I'll also tell about the demise of Timex Computers.

Picture of Frogger tape case from: