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ZX Spectrum. General Thoughts, Questions.


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Hey all.

I've been messing about a lot with emulation. The only classic computers that I currently own are Atari 8bits (used to have some STs as well). I enjoy these plenty. With that said, I've been gaming on BlueMSX (pretty fun program, want to track down a real one), but I also nabbed Speccy, which is a ZX Spectrum emu. I am a bit surprised. It's very bright and lively, seems to be responsive, with some interesting ports. It seems most games were cassette, which outside of the Supercharger, I never experienced.

 

From what I can find from a quick Google search, Sinclair was an English company. I can't find a lot of reference regarding US sales from what bit I did dig up. I am guessing the real hardware runs on 220V and outputs to PAL? I can find 5 million units sold, not counting clones. Was there a Timex equivalent/compatible model?

 

I am finding that the more I play with the older computer stuff, the more I like it. The various A8s (have 800XL, 130XE, and XEGS), the MSX, the Spectrum. They all either are, or seem really fun. I haven't messed around much with the C64 stuff yet, nor have I found a good Amiga emulator. It seems that there are flash memory/SD interfaces for the Spectrum like there are for some of the other platforms. I find that I like the idea of games on more modern interfaces very appealing due to durability/longevity, and space saving (regarding the physical space a library takes up).

 

Though looking at it, the Spectrum, MSX, Amiga, ST, are all cores that are available for FPGA/MIST, which is a thing that also intrigues me, though not quite sold on it yet. Though I can say that the USB power, and VGA output makes it a pretty easy thing to sell across regions, which matters a bit since I am in the USA. I generally like playing on the original hardware, but have turned to emulation recently as a way to keep things compact for the moment, but also as a way to try out a few things that I otherwise have not had access to. I was anti-emulation for a fairly long time. Lol.

 

One part amused, with a dose of curiosity, and a bit of "how do I proceed from here?"

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The ZX Spectrum, nicknamed Speccy, takes 9V DC so power should not be an issue. However it outputs PAL RF or if modified, composite video.

 

When it comes to tapes, most home computers used those, in particular in Europe. The various memory card solutions thus mount images of tapes and often speed load them.

 

In the US, Timex sold a slightly improved model, TS-2068. With a compatibility cartridge, it can play ZX Spectrum games.

 

While the Spectrum has very few custom chips, they easily break IMHO. They may be easy to fix once you know what is wrong, but beware for breakdowns.

Edited by carlsson
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It seems most games were cassette, which outside of the Supercharger, I never experienced.

There's no standard disk interface on most models, but there are third party interfaces for floppies, Sinclair's Interface 1 for bolting on Microdrives (loops of tape with sort-of-random access) and the later Spectrum +3 (manufactured by Amstrad after they took over Sinclair Research) has an internal 3" floppy drive.

 

I am guessing the real hardware runs on 220V and outputs to PAL? I can find 5 million units sold, not counting clones. Was there a Timex equivalent/compatible model?

In order; yes 220V (probably saying 240V since i think that was what we were on at the time) but it's just a straight DC input after the transformer, output is PAL RF on the earlier models (convertable to composite with a bit of soldering) and RGB on the later ones and yes, the Timex Sinclair 2068 is the US equivalent; it adds a few display modes that aren't in any of the UK models, one with 8x1 pixel attribute cells (the regular Spectrum has 8x8 pixel cells) and the other offering a higher resolution in monochrome. There's also an AY sound chip which wasn't in the 16K or 48K models.

 

Sales of the 2068 weren't stellar, probably because it didn't add anything new to what was already in the US market at that time.

 

I haven't messed around much with the C64 stuff yet, nor have I found a good Amiga emulator.

UAE is the best bet for the latter; it's not necessarily simple to configure because you need the Amiga Kickstart ROMs and those are still protected by a commercial entity, but once it's going there shouldn't be many problems.

 

For the C64 emulation, if you haven't looked into the options go for VICE.

 

 

It seems that there are flash memory/SD interfaces for the Spectrum like there are for some of the other platforms.

Yup, the DivIDE and more recently DivMMC are IDE (so you can hang a CF card off them with a cheap converter and an external PSU) and SD interfaces respectively. i've got the former on my grey +2 but am planning to get an SD-based one soon-ish.

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