Timex / Sinclair, 1983
and last Timex Sinclair, the TS 2068 (above), was released
in November 1983 as a last-ditch attempt by Timex Computer
Corp. to stave off its collapse (unsuccessfully - the company
folded in Spring 1984).
Although the machine was based
on the ZX
Spectrum, it was a radical departure from Sir Clive's
original. In design and operation, it took its cue more from
American than British computers. Its most notable feature,
the cartridge slot occupying the right-hand quarter of the
case, was very reminiscent of the legendary TRS-80 (another
popular American computer of the early 1980s). It was also
quite different internally: it had a
larger memory, a Spectrum 128-style sound chip and a grandly-named
"Timex Operating System" (TOS).
The basic TS 2068 is only partly compatible
with the ZX Spectrum. The tape I/O is much the same, allowing
Spectrum tape files to be loaded. Spectrum BASIC is a subset
of the TS 2068's BASIC, so Spectrum BASIC programs will run.
The TS 2068's ROM is different, though,
so Spectrum machine code which makes use of the ROM cannot
be used. Without the aid of an emulator, the TS 2068 can run
only a small fraction of the Spectrum's commercially available
The TS 2068's Spectrum emulator is really
a Spectrum ROM on cartridge that is bankswitched into the
lower 0-16K region. The top 48K region is filled with RAM.
To the software this looks exactly the same as a 48K Spectrum.
Using this, it is possible to achieve about 97% compatibility
with a real Spectrum.
In hindsight, this lack of built-in
compatibility was a serious mistake by Timex; it cut the machine
off from the huge British Sinclair software market. This greatly
reduced the attractiveness of the machine and, not surprisingly,
it was not a big success.
© Chris Owen 1994-2003