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Timex/Sinclair peripherals
Timex/Sinclair, 1981-83

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 timex (1016,ts1016,2020,ts2020,2040,ts2040)

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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 computers.

TS 1016

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.

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TS 1510

The TS 2068 was designed from the outset with a built-in cartridge slot. The TS 1000/1500 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 for it.

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TS 2020

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.

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TS 2040

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 available.

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TS 2050

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.

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TS 2060

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.

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TS 2065

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 released.

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TS 2080

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.

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TS 2090

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.

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Chris Owen 1994-2003