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British Industrial History

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Clive Sinclair

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Clive Sinclair (1940-2021) of Sinclair Radionics, Sinclair Vehicles, etc.

Clive Sinclair, a British inventor whose interests ranged over amplifiers, radios, calculators, pocket TVs and electric vehicles.

Educated at St George's College, Weybridge

Early 1960s: Assistant editor at Instrument Practice

1963 Set up Sinclair Radionics at the age of 22; produced DIY radio kits (a radio in a matchbox) for sale by mail order[1]

Products also included hi-fi amplifiers, tuners, loudspeakers.

1972 Launched small, pocket electronic calculator with much reduced power consumption compared with other calculators, based on the Texas Instruments integrated circuit.

1973 Launched the "smallest electronic calculator" in the USA. Planned to launch a small television and a digital watch. The company had 70 employees.

Late 1970s: The National Enterprise Board took control of Sinclair Radionics

1979 Sinclair set up Sinclair Research to pursue development of the microcomputer, a flat tube television display, a novel electric motor and a new electronic instrument.

1980 Launched the ZX80 personal microcomputer which sold for £100; it did not include a display unit and used a separate cassette recorder to store programs[2].

1981 Established a new publishing house in Cambridge, Sinclair Browne, and a literary prize [3]. Chairman of the British branch of Mensa.

1982 Set up a third research centre in Exeter to develop an electric vehicle and a fourth one (at the time said to be located in Winchester) to develop semiconductor technology[4]

1982 July: Sinclair received Government backing for his personal computers to be used in schools.[5]

1983 Sold 10 percent of Sinclair Research to raise funds for further development of the electric car[6]

1983 Established a new research centre, Metalab, near Cambridge[7]

1983 Awarded Knighthood[8]. Invested £12.9M in a 3 wheeled electric vehicle, which was expected to be in production in 2 years time[9]

1985 His first electric vehicle was the Sinclair C5, one of the products for which he most famous. At the time, this vehicle was claimed to be ‘a revolution in personal transport’.

1985 Planned to set up a wafer-scale integration plant to make micro-chips, which would be an investment in manufacturing, something he had avoided since entering the computer business[10] but the idea was short-lived because of financial problems at Sinclair Research[11]. Later a venture called Anamartic was announced

1985 Having suffered substantial losses because of over-stocking, Sinclair Research was offered a bail-out by Robert Maxwell's Hollis plc; Sinclair would step aside to become life president[12]. But this deal failed and instead a deal with retailers Dixons was announced[13]. At the same time, Hoover issued a writ in relation to unpaid invoices for building the first 14000 C5s[14] and production came to a stop.

1986 After substantial losses, the manufacturing and marketing rights (including the Sinclair brand) for the computer were sold to competitor Amstrad[15]

1986 Established a new company Cambridge Computer to make a portable computer[16]

1989 The Anamartic venture in wafer-scale integration announced it was ready to start deliveries of chips[17] but the business was affected by the drop in price of RAM and after another 2 years the company seems to have disappeared.

1992 Developed a small-wheeled battery-assisted bicycle, Zike[18]

1994 Promoted a battery-assisted bicycle, Zeta, which had been developed by Sinclair Research[19]

2021 Died September 16

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Jan 29, 1973
  2. The Times, Jan 30, 1980
  3. The Times, Jun 19, 1981
  4. The Times, Feb 13, 1982
  5. The Engineer 1982/07/15
  6. The Times, Jan 25, 1983
  7. The Times, Jul 15, 1983
  8. The Times, Jun 11, 1983
  9. The Times, Jun 18, 1983
  10. The Times , Mar 13, 1985
  11. The Times Jun 19, 1985
  12. The Times, Jun 17, 1985
  13. The Times, Aug 10, 1985
  14. The Times, Jul 15, 1985
  15. The Times, April 08, 1986
  16. The Times, February 17, 1987
  17. The Times, November 02, 1989
  18. The Times, March 06, 1992
  19. The Times, December 31, 1994