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TS 2068
Timex / Sinclair, 1983

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The fifth and last Timex Sinclair, the TS 2068 (above), was released in November 1983 as a last-ditch attempt by Timex Computer Corp. to stave off its collapse (unsuccessfully - the company folded in Spring 1984).

Although the machine was based on the ZX Spectrum, it was a radical departure from Sir Clive's original. In design and operation, it took its cue more from American than British computers. Its most notable feature, the cartridge slot occupying the right-hand quarter of the case, was very reminiscent of the legendary TRS-80 (another popular American computer of the early 1980s). It was also quite different internally: it had a larger memory, a Spectrum 128-style sound chip and a grandly-named "Timex Operating System" (TOS).

The basic TS 2068 is only partly compatible with the ZX Spectrum. The tape I/O is much the same, allowing Spectrum tape files to be loaded. Spectrum BASIC is a subset of the TS 2068's BASIC, so Spectrum BASIC programs will run. The TS 2068's ROM is different, though, so Spectrum machine code which makes use of the ROM cannot be used. Without the aid of an emulator, the TS 2068 can run only a small fraction of the Spectrum's commercially available software.

The TS 2068's Spectrum emulator is really a Spectrum ROM on cartridge that is bankswitched into the lower 0-16K region. The top 48K region is filled with RAM. To the software this looks exactly the same as a 48K Spectrum. Using this, it is possible to achieve about 97% compatibility with a real Spectrum.

In hindsight, this lack of built-in compatibility was a serious mistake by Timex; it cut the machine off from the huge British Sinclair software market. This greatly reduced the attractiveness of the machine and, not surprisingly, it was not a big success.

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Chris Owen 1994-2003