The ZX Spectrum took the UK by storm after its launch in 1982. So much so that its creator was awarded with a knighthood the following year for ‘services to British industry’. But although we’re familiar with the story of how Sir Clive Sinclair’s wonder machine changed the face of British computing, his computer’s legacy on the far side of the Iron Curtain is less well known to western gamers. And it’s a legacy from which he never made a penny.
In the early 1980s, computers were hard to come by for the average Russian. Trading restrictions under the communist regime meant that it was almost impossible to import computers from the west, and the few that were smuggled across were hideously expensive by Russian standards. In 1983, the popular magazine Radio put together schematics for its readers on how to build a ‘Micro-80’ computer, one of the first DIY computers available in Russia, but it was difficult to put together, requiring hundreds of often difficult-to-acquire components.