The ZX Spectrum is an 8-bit home computer developed and marketed by Sinclair Research. It was first released in the United Kingdom on 23 April 1982. Many official and unofficial clones were released around the world in the following years, most notably in Europe, the United States, and Eastern Bloc countries.
The machine was the brainchild of English entrepreneur and inventor Sir Clive Sinclair. Referred to during development as the ZX81 Colour, the ZX Spectrum was designed by a small team in Cambridge. It was designed to be small, simple, and most importantly inexpensive, with as few components as possible. The addendum ‘Spectrum’ was chosen to highlight the machine’s colour display, which differed from the black and white display of its predecessor, the ZX81. Its distinctive case, rainbow motif and rubber keyboard were designed by Rick Dickinson. Video output is transmitted to a television set rather than a dedicated monitor, while software is loaded and saved onto compact audio cassettes.
The ZX Spectrum was initially distributed through mail order, but after severe backlogs it was sold through High Street chains in the United Kingdom. It was released in the United States as the Timex Sinclair 2068 in 1983, and in some parts of Europe as the Timex Computer 2048 the following year. In its domestic British market, the ZX Spectrum primarily competed with the Commodore 64, BBC Micro, Dragon 32, and the Amstrad CPC range.