Vintage & Modern Tech Blog

Two New Full Keyboard Retro Computers Announced

May 2, 2016

Two pioneering computers from the 1980s that just refuse to give up the ghost are the Commodore 64 and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. The Spectrum didn't make much of a mark in the U.S. but here in Britain the manufacturers were fierce commercial rivals and their differently-priced micros became playground status symbols creating something of a class divide (no pun intended) among British children.


 Owners of both types of microcomputer received potentially good news this Spring, with the announcement of an INDIEGOGO crowdfunding campaign for two new C64 devices - a handheld with built-in screen, and a keyboard resembling a slimmed-down 'breadbin' C64. These new devices are known as 'The 64', and to date $65,974 USD has been raised through the crowdfunding campaign.

For the ZX Spectrum fans, following the arrival of Elite's Recreated ZX Spectrum, Retro Computers Ltd's ZX Spectrum Vega and recently unveiled handheld Vega+, there was the announcement at the PLAY Expo Blackpool of a new full keyboard called the 'ZX Spectrum Next' resembling the QL-style ZX Spectrum + machines from the 80's complete with integrated SD-card and bluetooth functionality. Both the Vega + and the new ZX Spectrum Next were styled by 1980s Sinclair Research Industrial Director Rick Dickinson. 


On the subject of the Vega, there was much interest in the community following the announcement of the resignation of Retro Computer's Ltd Company Director Paul Andrews and Technical Expert Chris Smith, who literally wrote the book on the ZX Spectrum in the form of 'The Spectrum ULA - How To Design A Microcomputer', in which he detailed his reverse engineering of the custom gate array inside the 'speccy' computers. Paul Andrews is Director of a number of companies and also recently acquired the rights to the Jupiter Ace computer brand.


The Cantab Jupiter Ace was designed and marketed in the early 1980's by a break-off duo from the team who had been working on the Sinclair ZX81. It was unusual for having the 4th generation language FORTH built into it's ROM whereas most 8-bit micros had BASIC built-in.

Retro Computer's Ltd subsequently announced the recruitment of Dr Janko Mrsic-Flogel and Suzanne Martin to the team, along with the news that SMS Electronics will again be involved in the manufacturing process for the Vega +.

You can find out more about the new devices here:

ZX Spectrum Next - www.specnext.com

The '64' [Commodore]  - https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-64-computer-and-handheld-console#/

ZX Spectrum Vega+ http://shop.zxvega.co.uk

Additionally, if you are REALLY hardcore (and brave), and don't mind doing a fair amount of soldering, then you could try building a ZX Spectrum Harlequin kit, priced at £99.99 and available from www.bytedelight.com, who also sell the DivMMC Enjoy SD-card interface for original 1980's ZX Spectrums.

Thanks for reading!

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