A Day at the Sci-Fi London Horizons Event to celebrate the Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Over the Saturday and Sunday of this Bank Holiday weekend there was an event in London at the BFI to celebrate the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and we were there on the Sunday.

This is how Imperica described the weekend’s events:

In April, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum will be 30 years old. Many people that hold creative, technical, and cultural positions now are, in some way or another, indebted to the little machine that plugged into the living room telly and caused pandemonium if someone stood on the space bar whilst a game was loading. Horizons is an event from Imperica, held at BFI Southbank on May 5 and 6 to celebrate the Spectrum’s 30th anniversary. Part of Sci-Fi London, the event will be a rich blend of fun, memories, and future-gazing. We use the word “celebrate” deliberately; it will be very much a celebration.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make the Saturday, but here is what happened on Sunday:


We were welcomed by Leila Johnston and Paul Squires who set the relaxed mood for the day.

Rupert Goodwins: Sinclair memories

Rupert talked about his time at Sinclair and his involvement with various Sinclair products.

He mentioned some very interesting Sinclair products that just never saw the light of day, including a flat screen TV, a mobile phone, a satellite receiver, the Mr Man computer (it had a vertical screen and looked a bit like a Mr Man), Loki (the games computer) and Pandora (which was a portable business computer based on the Spectrum).

What was interesting to hear was that the ZX81 was the only product to make any money for Sinclair. What was also amusing to hear was that 25% of ZX Spectrums were dead-on-arrival and needed replacing.

It was a very interesting talk!

Chris Smith: ZX Design

Chris talked about the cutting edge technology that was, and went into, the ZX Spectrum, and revealed some of the hidden design features. He went on to show how an understanding of the machines quirks allowed the most creative programmers to produce the best games.

Chris talked about his Harlequin project and all that he went through to investigate how the Spectrum worked and was put together. Chris is one dedicated guy!!!!


He also gave a quick demo of a game he has been working on called Where Eagles Dare, which is based on his love of the classic Spectrum game The Great Escape.

Antics Roadshow

This was the Horizons version of the Antiques Roadshow were people brought some of their kit, and other things, to show off and talk about. It was a really relaxed atmosphere with people going from table to table and just chatting.

Here are a selection of photos from the session:


Eben Upton and William Marshall: The future

Eben Upton from the Raspberry Pi Foundtain talked about the Pi, the future, and his memories of computing.

Check out A Slice of Raspberry Pi at the Sci Fi London Horizons Event

Matthew C. Applegate: Sinclair’s influence

Matthew C. Applegate, also known as pixelh8 talked about programming, music, Imogean Heap and other interesting topics, and gave a few demos of his music. It was really interesting, and Matthew really has a passion for what he does.

The Wrap Up

In a blink of an eye it was all over – and everyone there agreed that they had all had a fantastic weekend. Some had been there for both days events, and others only one of the two days, but everyone had a great time.

Thank you to Imperica for organising the event, and to the BFI for hosting it.

And a very special thank you to Leila for my copy of The Quill!

Why not share some of your Sinclair memories with us? And also share your memories of the Horizons event if you attended.


  1. Alvin_the_Writer
    Very Fond memory of Sinclair! I had a Timex-Sinclair 2000, and yes you connect to the TV. I learn Simple Basic with the Timex-Sinclair 2000. In the Program Mode the Keyboard were an Simple Basic Word. Great Little Machine Learned a lot'