Sinclair QL + Schön Keyboard

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The Sinclair QL (QL standing for Quantum Leap), was a personal computer launched in 1984, Sinclair himself did not like the fact his Spectrum computer was largely seen as a games machine. He wanted to compete in the lucrative business computer market. Although being considerably cheaper than it's competitors, a rushed development led to poor reliability, and initially a whole run of machines that did not work as advertised all but doomed the machine before it had been on the market for any length of time.

The computer was designed to be staunchly incompatible with the Spectrum, with software companies encouraged to write business type software, such as spreadsheet and accounting.

The main problem with the QL was it's choice of media, the Microdrive. This was a tiny cartridge that had a continuous reel of tape inside.

Although the drives and media were cheaper than the disk drives of the day, and kept the size of the machine to a small size for the desk, unfortunately the drives themselves were less than reliable.

The tapes if used with the same QL would work well enough, but if inserted into another machine would often not read or become damaged, as each drive was differently calibrated.

Though a 3.5" floppy drive was later brought to market, the machine was in steep decline, and it was also expensive.

The Microdrive had not been a successful media on the Spectrum, so it's inclusion on the QL was not exactly a welcome one.

The QL was originally conceived in 1981 under the code-name ZX83, as a portable computer for business users, with a built-in flat-screen CRT display and internal modem. As development progressed, and ZX83 became ZX84, it eventually became clear that the portability features were over-ambitious and the specification was reduced to a conventional desktop configuration.

Based on a Motorola 68008 processor clocked at 7.5 MHz, the QL included 128 KB of RAM (officially expandable to 640 KB) and could be connected to a monitor or TV for display. Two built-in Microdrive tape-loop cartridge drives (first seen as a peripheral for the ZX Spectrum) provided mass storage, in place of the more expensive floppy disk drives found on similar systems of the era.

Interfaces included an expansion slot, ROM cartridge socket, dual RS-232 ports, proprietary QLAN local area network ports, dual joystick ports and an external Microdrive bus. Two video modes were available, 256×256 pixels with 8 RGB colours and per-pixel flashing, or 512×256 pixels with four colours (black, red, green and white). Both screen modes used a 32 KB framebuffer in main memory.

The case was another classic design by Rick Dickinson, and the machine is still sought after with plenty of aftermarket products to lessen it's shortcomings, such as an internal SD interface.

The QL was removed from the market as soon as the takeover deal with Amstrad was completed.

This unit is fitted with a sturdier Schön keyboard with the same key configuration as the original QL. This together with various accessories was kindly donated by Bob Haslem.

Manufacturer: Sinclair
Date: 1984

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Sinclair QL + Schön Keyboard Manuals:

Item Manufacturer Date
QDOS (for the QL) Technical Notes Sinclair Unknown
SuperQBoard Manual Sandy 1985
Sinclair QL Macro Assembler - User's Guide Sinclair 1985

Magazines RELATED to Sinclair QL + Schön Keyboard in our Library

Item Manufacturer Date
Sinclair User April 1984 EMAP Business & Computer Publications Unknown
Practical Computing - May 1984 May 1984
Personal Computer World - June 1984 Jun 1984
Sinclair User June 1984 Jun 1984
Practical Computing - September 1984 Sep 1984
Practical Computing - March 1985 Mar 1985
Personal Computer World - March 1986 Mar 1986
Personal Computer World Special: Business Computing The 1986 Survival Guide Apr 1986

Other Systems Related To Sinclair QL + Schön Keyboard:

Item Manufacturer Date
Prototype of MK14 Sinclair 1977
Science of Cambridge MK 14 + Original Keyboard Sinclair 1977
Science of Cambridge MK 14 - Original Kit Sinclair 1977
Science of Cambridge MK14 + Memory Expansion in wooden case Sinclair 1977
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Sinclair ZX80 8K Basic Sinclair 1980
Sinclair ZX81 with Basic EPROM Sinclair 1980
Sinclair ZX80 Prototype PDZ 4732 Basic ROM - Nine Tiles Sinclair 1980
Sinclair ZX80 Updated to ZX81 Sinclair 1980
Sinclair ZX80 Sinclair 1st June 1980
Sinclair ZX81 Kit Sinclair 1981
Sinclair ZX Spectrum Prototype Sinclair 1981
Sinclair ZX81 Sinclair 1981
Sinclair ZX81 - Signed by Rick Dickinson Sinclair 5th March 1981
Sinclair ZX81 with Custom Case/Keyboard Sinclair 5th March 1981
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Early Sinclair ZX Spectrum Computer Sinclair 1982
Timex Sinclair 1000 Sinclair 1982
Sinclair ZX Spectrum Console Sinclair 1982
Sinclair ZX Spectrum Console Sinclair 1982
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Sinclair ZX Spectrum Computer - Early Issue Sinclair 23rd April 1982
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Investronica Sinclair Spectrum Sinclair 1984
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Sinclair QL (Signed) Sinclair 1984
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Sinclair QL (Property of Sinclair) Sinclair 1984
Sinclair QL Sinclair 1984
Sinclair ZX Spectrum+ Sinclair 1st June 1984
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Sinclair ZX Spectrum +3 (Currys Box) Sinclair 1st June 1987
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH13833. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.


Sinclair QL + Schön Keyboard

  Book Archive   [2]
  Games Archive   [11]
  Software Archive   [10]
  Type-in Listings   [1]
  Peripherals   [21]

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