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Micro-Amplifier
1962



Sinclair's very first commercial product was the Micro-Amplifier, launched at the end of 1962. For a mere twenty-eight shillings and sixpence (roughly £1.42, but representing a lot more buying power in those days), the hobbyist would receive a kit of parts which could be assembled "in under 2 hours using ordinary tools" into "the smallest [amplifier] of its type in the world". Pictured standing on a half-crown coin in the advert, the amplifier measured just ¾ by 3/8 by ½ inches (about 19 by 9.5 by 12.7 mm) - an early example of Sinclair's long-running fetish for miniaturisation.

The tiny size of the Micro-Amplifier turned out to be a highly successful marketing gimmick. Several thousand were eventually sold. This was a remarkable success for a company which consisted of only one person, Clive Sinclair himself. The key to this achievement was Sinclair's "farming out" of the distribution and assembly work. While Sinclair himself was working in London as technical editor of the journal Instrument Practice, he gave two Cambridge companies the task of receiving mail, assembling the products and despatching them. Cambridge Consultants Ltd (CCL) had been established in 1960 by a Cambridge chemical engineer, Tim Eiloart, who was subsequently to have a lengthy involvement with Sinclair. Dept C, 69 Histon Road - actually a disused bakehouse - was also shared with a small design and printing company called Polyhedron Services, founded by Rodney Dale (subsequent author of the book The Sinclair Story). The two firms' involvement with Sinclair came about simply because Iain Sinclair, Clive's brother, happened to be working for Polyhedron at the time and knew that Clive was looking for someone to provide distribution and printing services for his new company.


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Chris Owen 1994-2003