Sinclair ZX80
Sinclair ZX80 image
Introduced: 1980
Price: $200
CPU: 3.25MHz NEC 780C-1

When it was introduced in 1980, the ZX80 was the world’s smallest and cheapest computer. As you might expect, it was a simple machine. You hooked it up to a television and wrote programs in Sinclair BASIC. You didn’t type out the commands, however, but entered them with single key presses in programming mode—which was probably a good thing since the membrane keyboard made typing tedious. The video circuitry of the Sinclair was so basic that the machine could not generate an image if it was doing anything else, which resulted in it disconcertingly blanking out while you were inputting commands. One generous reviewer actually liked the blanking effect because, with the membrane keyboard, it was sometimes the only clue that a key had been pressed.

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STARTUP Gallery Map, click to view full map
Sinclair ZX80 is currently on display in the Rise of the Machines section of the STARTUP Gallery. Click on the map to explore the whole gallery.