In the early 1980s, then as now, the
world's biggest market for home computers was in the United
States. It was an essential market for a computer manufacturer
to crack. Although Sinclair did sell the ZX81 and Spectrum
though mail order in the USA for a time, the Sinclair machines'
biggest American success came about through the company's
collaboration with Timex.
The American giant was already Sinclair's
prime contractor for building ZX81s and Spectrums at its plant
in Dundee, Scotland. Sinclair was doing well in the States
- by June 1981 it was selling 18,000-20,000 ZX81s a month,
more than the combined unit sales of Tandy, Apple and Commodore.
Unfortunately, the quality of the products was very poor,
with only one in three Sinclair computers actually working.
A tie-up with Timex was the obvious answer, and resulted in
five officially-licensed computers based on Sinclair technology.
Only three of these were, however, actually released:
In addition, a number of badged Timex/Sinclair peripherals
were also produced. In several cases, there was no equivalent
product in the UK:
The Timex saga came to an unhappy end in late 1983 when Timex,
burdened with huge losses and a series of costly failures
of its products, pulled out of the home computer market and
dropped its tie-in with Sinclair. However, a further twist
to the story occured when the Portuguese subsidiary produced
a number of unauthorised clones
of the Timex Sinclair machines (calling them "Timex Computers"),
keeping the line alive until as late as 1987.
© Chris Owen 1994-2003