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Slimline
1963



  • Launched:
    April 1963
  • Price:
    49/6d

The 1963 Slimline (right) was Sinclair's first radio, sold at a price of 49/6 (forty-nine shillings and sixpence). Advertisements proclaimed that it was "the set you will never want to be without and that one could "build it in a couple of hours". Like most of Sinclair's products of the period, it came in kit form and its specification was pared down to the bare bones. Alfred Marks, who at that time acted as Sinclair's advertising agent, later recalled:

"We advertised this [product] in the practical papers, and the thing which Sinclair did which was very, very important, he always went in for good presentation. His leaflets, instructions, packaging and suchlike were all good... The case used to house the Slimline was a pillbox, a standard model, and the circuit used three transistors, although later he brought it down to two. He used trimmers to tune the thing with, as capacitors. I asked him why he didn't use a reasonable capacitor - because these trimmers were fragile, flimsy things - but to no effect."

Like many Sinclair products in the early 1960s, the Slimline relied on the use of metal-alloy transistors rejected by Plessey for their original purpose in early transistorized computers. However, they were good enough for Sinclair's relatively undemanding purposes and were either incorporated in the kits or sold as separate transistors for a reported profit of up to 700 per cent. Sinclair's then wife, Ann, was pressed into service to sort and test them:

"The transistors used to arrive in sacks. About three or four sacks would arrive, about the size of a sack of potatoes. I had test equipment consisting of a box that gave a different pitched buzz according to the transistor, and I must have tested a million of them altogether. It really became monotonous, because I"d no sooner finished one sack than another would turn up."

Sinclair was certainly an early convert to industrial recycling, as one incident shows. Texas Instruments at Bedford used a large batch of reject transistors as hardcore for a driveway. Sinclair found out about this, presumably through industry contacts, and rather than shrugging his shoulders at a missed opportunity negotiated a price for digging the whole lot up again!  


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Chris Owen 1994-2003