Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2
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The ZX Spectrum +2 was Amstrad's first Sinclair branded machine, coming shortly after their purchase of the Spectrum range and "Sinclair" brand in 1986. The machine featured an all-new grey enclosure featuring a spring-loaded keyboard, dual joystick ports for the Sinclair interface 1 and 2 standard, and a built-in cassette recorder dubbed the "Datacorder" (like the Amstrad CPC 464)
The keys were layed out in the same configuration as the Spectrum 48K, with the single word commands still available in 48KB mode, when in 128K mode the keys become single letter.
Externally, the ports and connections remained the same as the Spectrum 128K, the huge heatsink that had been on the side of the machine, was much smaller, now the motherboard had more room to breath, it did not need to expel so much heat, it was newly located under a grill on the rear of the machine.
The expansion I/O allowed most current peripherals to still be attached, only a small number were not compatible, and new versions of those were soon produced. The 9V power socket, RS232, keypad, RGB video sockets that were all present on the Sinclair 128K were now joined by one for sound, as the RGB did not out put this. There was also the RF socket for connecting to an aerial socket, which did put out sound to a TV. Apart from the video sockets and Expansion I/O, all the others were moved from the side and front of the Sinclair Spectrum 128K.
The left side of the machine contained the two Sinclair joystick ports and also the reset button.
The machine circuit wise was almost entirely the same as the ZX Spectrum 128K, when powered on by plugging in the mains cable, (Amstrad kept the tradition of not having a power switch) the machine booted to a menu, with a couple of differences, the calculator option was no longer there, and the computer now said Amstrad instead of Sinclair in the copyright notice at the bottom.
Also the machine had its BIOS slightly altered for memory reasons, which did create some incompatibility for software running in 128K mode, in 48K, there was almost full compatibility with the older software.
The machine was built in Taiwan and UK factories and Amstrad's greater emphasis on quality control made it far more reliable than the Sinclair built Spectrums.
Amstrad also took a very different line in marketing the Spectrum +2. Unlike Sinclair, Amstrad did not attempt to market the Spectrum as anything other than a games machine, leaving the CPC range to be sold for more serious purposes.
Retailers were encouraged to create their own bundles of software and accessories for the machine, so stores such as Currys and Comet released games of their choosing in software packs the museum still holds.
This approach was extremely successful, and the Spectrum +2 sold very well, the five million pound investment that Amstrad made in acquiring the Sinclair brand was apparently made back in a year.
The machine today is still commonly found, with usually just the drive belts of the tape deck needing attention.
Firmware: 3.54 MHz Zilog Z80A CPU
Display: 32 x 22 character text display
256 x 192 pixel resolution
Sound: 3 channel, 7 octaves
I/O: Z80 bus, tape, RF television, numeric keypad, RS232 - Midi Out, RGB
Storage: Built-in tape recorder
Our unit came in its original packaging and has the serial number U-108498.
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH3648. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
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