Timex Sinclair 1000
|Release date||July 1982|
|Introductory price||$99.95 ($298 at 2022 prices)|
|Operating system||Sinclair BASIC|
|CPU||Z80 at 3.25 MHz|
|Memory||2 KB (64 KB max. 56 KB usable)|
|Successor||Timex Sinclair 1500|
The Timex Sinclair 1000 (or T/S 1000) was the first computer produced by Timex Sinclair, a joint venture between Timex Corporation and Sinclair Research. It was launched in July 1982, with a US sales price of US$99.95, making it the cheapest home computer at the time; it was advertised as "the first computer under $100". The computer was aimed at regular home users. As purchased, the T/S 1000 was fully assembled and ready to be plugged into home televisions, which served as a video monitor. The T/S 1000 was a slightly modified version of the Sinclair ZX81 with an NTSC RF modulator, for use with North American TVs, instead of PAL for European TVs. The T/S 1000 doubled the onboard RAM from 1 KB to 2 KB. The T/S 1000's casing had slightly more internal shielding but remained the same as Sinclair's, including the membrane keyboard. It had black-and-white graphics and no sound. It was followed by an improved version, the Timex Sinclair 1500 which had substantially more RAM (16 KB) and a lower price (US$80). However, the T/S 1500 did not achieve market success, given that the marketplace was by this time dominated by Commodore, Radio Shack, Atari and Apple.
Timex claimed to have sold 600,000 T/S 1000s in the US by early 1983, and other companies imported localized versions of British software. It sold for US$99.95 in the US when it debuted, making it the cheapest home computer at the time; it was advertised as "the first computer under $100". This pricing initiated a price war with Commodore International, who quickly reduced the price of its VIC-20 to match and later announced a trade-in program offering $100 for any competing computer toward the purchase of a Commodore 64. Since the T/S 1000 was selling for $49 by this time, many customers bought them for the sole purpose of trading them in for a Commodore 64.
Like the Sinclair ZX81, the T/S 1000 used 8K BASIC, a version of Sinclair BASIC (a BASIC dialect), as its primary interface and programming language. To make the membrane keyboard less cumbersome for program entry, the T/S 1000 used a shortcut system of one-letter "keywords" for most commands (e.g., pressing P while the cursor was in "keyword mode" would generate the keyword
LPRINT). One notable thing about this version of BASIC was that, unlike other versions where it's optional in a program, the
LET command was used extensively for data.
The T/S 1000 was normally plugged into a regular TV that served as a computer monitor. The computer produced a black-and-white display that consisted of 32 columns and 24 lines. Of those lines, 22 were accessible for display, with two reserved for data entry and error messages. The limited graphics were based on geometric shapes contained within the operating system's non-ASCII character set. The only form of long-term storage was Compact Cassette. The 16 KB memory expansion module sold for $49.95. A shortage of the memory expansion modules coupled with a lack of software that would run within 2 KB meant that the system had little use for anything other than as an introduction to programming. Home computer magazines of the era such as Compute! showed enthusiasts how to interface the computer with various kinds of equipment. These tutorials provided an opportunity for learning about early speech synthesis technology through a Speak & Spell, robotics control through the memory port, and scrolling text displays for advertising.
Over time, the T/S 1000 spawned a cottage industry of third-party add-ons designed to help remedy its limitations and provide more functions. Full-size keyboards, speech synthesizers, sound generators, disk drives, and memory expansions (up to 64 KB) were a few of the options available. Languages such as Forth and Pascal, as well as BASIC compilers and assemblers, augmented the T/S 1000's programming possibilities. Computer enthusiast magazines from the early 1980s included articles that contained the programming instructions for simple games and other programs that could be used with the device. Microcomputing magazine published an article in April 1983, criticizing the membrane keyboard ("The designers of the Timex-Sinclair 1000 ... reduced this important programming tool to a fraction of the required size") and describing how to connect external full-size keyboards.
Timex Computer Corporation produced a cartridge interface for the T/S 1000, the Timex Sinclair 1510 Command Cartridge Player. Only four cartridge titles were ever released:
- 07-9001 Supermath
- 07-9002 States and Capitals
- 07-9003 Chess
- 07-9004 Flight Simulator (Required the 16K RAM pack) The program took 12 minutes to load.
Timex released a thermal printer for use with the T/S 1000. The printer retailed for $100.00.
Timex Sinclair 1500 
|Introductory price||$79.95 ($218 at 2022 prices)|
|Operating system||Sinclair BASIC|
|CPU||Z80 at 3.25 MHz|
|Memory||16 KB (32 KB max)|
|Predecessor||Timex Sinclair 1000|
|Successor||Timex Sinclair 2068|
The T/S 1500 was an upgraded T/S 1000 with a better keyboard and 16 KB RAM, introduced in 1983. Timex Sinclair (TMX Portugal) designed the T/S 1500 and offered it to the Timex Corporation. The design utilized the T/S 2000 prototype (ZX Spectrum-like) silver cases that weren't previously used because of the launch of the T/S 2068. The machine was sold in the United States, Canada and Portugal.
The T/S 1500 replaced the earlier machine's ZX81-like case with a silver ZX Spectrum-like case, the same ZX Spectrum rubber keyboard, and a custom ULA. The T/S 1500 did not incorporate the Ferranti ULA. The T/S 1500 used a standard television for its display, "broadcasting" on either channel 2 or 3. It defaulted to TV channel 2, but if 3 was pressed on the keyboard within a few seconds of turning the computer on, it changed to channel 3 instead. Although the T/S 1500 came with 16 KB internal RAM, an external 16 KB RAM pack could be added for a total of 32 KB RAM. A few keyboard commands (POKEs) were required for the system to recognize the additional memory space (the RAM pack is multiplexed to the start of the RAM).
The T/S 1500 sold for $80 and was not a commercial success because of its late launch long after the success of the T/S 1000. The T/S 1000's successor, the T/S 2068, was already available, and the home computer market in general was dominated by Commodore, RadioShack, Atari and Apple.
There are two little-known software differences between the T/S 1000 and T/S 1500.
On the T/S 1000 and ZX81, the command:
results in the Timex printer outputting 0.0XYZ1. This well-known fault was corrected on the T/S 1500.
The T/S 1000 runs the following loop correctly, but the T/S 1500 does not; it makes one fewer iteration than it should.
10 FOR I=0 TO 1 STEP 0.25 20 PRINT I 30 NEXT I
- "Ocala Star-Banner". Ocala Star-Banner – via Google Books.
- "The Financial Post". The Financial Post – via Google Books.
- Bradbeer, Robin (March 1983). "Timex upgrades Spectrum". Sinclair User. pp. 83–84. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- Faludi, Susan C. (21 April 1982). "Timex Plans New Computer to Retail at About $100". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
- Inc, InfoWorld Media Group (November 14, 1983). "InfoWorld". InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. – via Google Books.
- Mitchell, Peter W. (1983-09-06). "A summer-CES report". Boston Phoenix. p. 4. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
- Ask HN: What bug(s) make “LPRINT 0.00001” output “0.0XYZ1”?
- 1982: Timex Sinclair Computer
- Timex Sinclair 1000
- Suitcase version of Timex Sinclair 1500
- Timex Computer World-Timex Sinclair 1500
- Timex Computer World-Timex Sinclair 1510
- Timex Computer World – Pictures of Timex Sinclair 1500
- Timex Computer World – Pictures of Timex Sinclair 1510
- Historycorner.de – German Site for the Timex Sinclair 1000