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