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ZX Spectrum+


Firmware: 3.54 MHz Zilog Z80A CPU

16K / 48K RAM

Display: 32 x 22 character text display

256 x 192 pixel resolution

8 colours

Sound: 1 channel, 5 octaves

I/O: Z80 bus, tape, RF television

Storage: External tape recorder or microdrives

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Availability:  Common
Typical value:  £35
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The Spectrum+, released in October 1984, was a stop-gap produced to refresh the Spectrum at a time when the home computer market as a whole was suffering a slowdown.

Sinclair's own surveys showed that the Spectrum's peculiar rubber keyboard was a serious turnoff for prospective users. The Spectrum+ introduced no changes to the basic Spectrum hardware but provided a "professional keyboard" which had an uncanny resemblance to that of the QL. It was later adapted for the short-lived Spectrum 128. It was not a proper typewriter-style keyboard as found on PCs, but instead used much the same technology as the old-style Spectrum 48K (and the later Z88), with keys - in this case made of injection-moulded plastic - resting on top of a rubber membrane. Many users did not find this wholly satisfactory in practice.

The machine sold for £179.95 (compared to the cost of the rubber-keyed 48K model at £129.95) or £50 for a do-it-yourself kit for the user to convert a rubber-keyed version to a Spectrum+. Although the machine sold adequately, the familiar Sinclair quality control gremlins struck again - the keys had an unfortunate tendency to fall off. Retailers such as Boots reported a failure rate of up to 30%, compared with a more usual 5-6%.

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Chris Owen 1994-2003