More than two decades after its official discontinuation, Sir Clive Sinclair's ZX Spectrum is to return to the market in the form of a crowd-funded limited-edition gaming-centric model dubbed the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega.
The brainchild of Retro Computers Limited, a Luton-based start-up in which Sinclair Research - Sir Clive's company and the creator of the original ZX Spectrum as well as its predecessors the ZX81, ZX80 and MK14 - is a share-holder, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega has been engineered by The ZX Spectrum ULA: How to Design a Microcomputer
author Chris Smith to use modern components - in particular, a redesign of the Ferranti Uncommitted Logic Array (ULA) which powered the original Spectrum and which has long been out of production - which offer complete software compatibility with the original hardware. The result: a modern device capable of playing all the games released for the Spectrum throughout the 80s, early 90s and - thanks to a thriving hobbyist community - even today.
As is increasing common for start-ups, Retro Computers has turned to crowd-funding to ramp up its efforts. Following the creation of a single prototype, build using a 3D-printed case featuring a cut-down gaming-centric keyboard, the company has launched an Indiegogo campaign seeking £100,000 - but accepting less via the 'Flexible Funding' option - to create the first 1,000 units and to cover its running and marketing costs. Each unit comes with a claimed thousand-strong library of fully licensed games. The royalty fees for these games, set at 10 per cent of each Spectrum Vega's selling price, will be donated to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, the company has announced.
Whether or not Retro Computers succeeds in its crowd-funding campaign, the company must certainly be applauded for its ability to cut through red tape: as well as the backing of Uncle Clive himself, the company has succeeded in gaining permission from Sky In-Home Service Limited, a sub-division of broadcasting giant BSkyB, to use the Sinclair ZX Spectrum intellectual property in a commercial product - IP which was acquired by Amstrad in the 80s before making its way to Sky.
The campaign, run by Paul Andrews and David Levy, is looking for £100,000 to fund production and marketing. The first 1,000 Limited Edition ZX Spectrum Vega units will be provided to Indiegogo backers exclusively at a cost of £100 each; following that, the regular edition will sell for an as-yet unannounced price said to be 'well below £100
' via the company's website. More information is available on the Indiegogo page