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Sinclair Research in the UK left it to others
to produce - and profit from - popular add-ons such as joystick
interfaces and data recorders. By contrast,
its US partner Timex showed no such reluctance and produced
an extensive range of add-ons for its range of Timex/Sinclair
The TS 1016 is a 16K RAM expansion
module, fitted externally to the TS
1000. It is basically a rebadged ZX81
RAM pack, working in exactly the same way as its
UK equivalent - including the infamous RAM pack wobble which
made the computer crash if it was so much as nudged. Timex
experienced major problems in supplying the TS 1016, and was
unable to make it available in any great numbers for two or
three months after the launch of the TS 1000. This was very
frustrating for the machine's owners. As the Wall Street
Journal commented in an article of August 17, 1983, "many
new owners would take the machine home without software, plug
it in and find it didn't do anything useful" - hardly
a surprise considering that little could be done with just
a 1K memory.
2068 was designed from the outset with a built-in
cartridge slot. The TS
had no such capability; to provide it, Timex produced a plug-in
cartridge interface, the TS 1510. Comparable to but not compatible
with the Interface
2 from Sinclair Research, the TS 1510 met an equal
lack of success, and only four cartridges were ever produced
The TS 2020 is simply a generic
analogue cassette / data recorder badged with a Timex logo.
It can be powered either by a 6V external power supply or
four 1.5V batteries and is compatible with all of the TS computers.
Another rebadged Sinclair Research
product, the TS 2040 is the US version of the ZX
Printer, usable by any of the TS computers. Like
its UK equivalent, the TS 2040 is a thermal transfer printer.
Using special paper coated with a layer of aluminium over
a black backing, the printer works by pulsing current onto
the paper via two styli that move across on a moving belt
at high speed. It was a simple and inexpensive technology
which produced fairly good results. At a time when conventional
printers cost hundreds of dollars, the sub-$100 price of the
TS 2040 was a major selling point. The only major downside
is that it can only print onto the special metallised paper
which it uses; unfortunately that paper is no longer readily
The TS 2050 Telecommunications
Modem was a product for which there was no UK Sinclair Research
equivalent. It was designed neither by Timex nor Sinclair,
but by a third-party US contractor, Westridge Communications,
and, as usual, was rebadged as a Timex/Sinclair product. However,
it very nearly did not get released at all. Originally scheduled
for release in November 1983, Timex pulled out of the computer
market before the first shipment had even arrived. Westridge
was left with a large stock of unshipped modems; after a short
delay, the company launched the TS 2050 under its own label
as the Westridge 2050.
The modem is compatible with
the TS 1000/1500
and TS 2068.
It uses the 8251 UART chip, and is capable of 300 baud. A
simple modification which bypassed the analog modem portion
on the unit permitted it to function as an RS-232 port that
could accept a faster modem, as well as other serial devices.
The modem connects directly to a telephone socket and also
has a phone jack built in to permit the user to connect a
telephone to the modem.
Had Timex's computer business
survived, the capabilities of the TS
2068 would have been greatly enhanced with the
release of the TS 2060 Bus Expansion Unit. This was a complete
expansion system (shown above with a TS 2068 and the full
range of TS peripherals plugged in). It allowed the TS 2068
to be expanded to a remarkable 16 Mb of RAM, in addition to
providing serial (RS232) and Centronic (parallel) ports, a
disk interface and RGB monitor output. However, the demise
of Timex meant that the device did not develop beyond the
prototype stage and the TS 2060 was never released.
The TS 2065 was Timex's version
of the Sinclair Research Microdrive
- a "stringy floppy" mass storage device capable
of storing about 85K of data on a tiny cassette cartridge
containing an infinite loop of tape. As usual with Timex,
the device was essentially the same as its UK equivalent but
repackaged in a different case. However, the TS 2065 was never
The TS 2080 is actually a Tally
Spirit 80, an Epson MX-80-compatible 9-pin dot matrix printer
which was rebadged as a Timex/Sinclair product. It was a robust
and durable product, so much so that consumables manufacturers
still support the printer to this day.
By far the rarest of the Timex/Sinclair
products, the TS 2090 is an unusual digital joystick for games
and graphic applications. The device, designed to be used
with the TS 2068,
is held in the hand and has a thumb-operated fire button.
© Chris Owen 1994-2003