Great British Inventors You Have Probably Never Heard Of...

Clive Sinclair was an inventor whose business revolved around the home computing industry. He specialized in developing affordable consumer electronics for the domestic user. His most noteworthy inventions included; the world’s first “slim-line” pocket calculator, an affordable home computer called the ZX Spectrum and the Sinclair C5 (one of the first battery powered vehicles). Another of his inventions the “Black Watch” was the first watch to use light emitting diodes to display the time.

His inventions and products had varying degrees of success commercially, the ZX Spectrum being illustrative of the company’s more successful products whilst the “Black Watch” represented the opposite.

In particular, the ZX Spectrum was an outright success selling over 5 million units throughout its production cycle. To this day, the ZX Spectrum is credited with being a foundation stone in the British computing industry. Its accessible nature (both financially and software-wise) was the key to its success. It is credited with spawning a whole industry with many present day programmers having cut their teeth on the ZX Spectrum. Many people in the UK gaming industry have stated that their first delve into programming occurred on the ZX Spectrum. With one of the longest production runs of any domestic computer, the ZX Spectrum was discontinued in 1992.

Clive Sinclair was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1983 for his contributions to British industry.

In his later years, Clive Sinclair focused on developing methods of transportation revolving around the electric engine as a power source. Given the failure of his first electric vehicle the C5, his subsequent designs were received with trepidation and were never a commercial success.

Given the advent of the present-day electric vehicle market, one could speculate that Sinclair was a visionary who pre-empted Elon Musk by several decades. Had Sinclair focused on creating a practical family vehicle (as opposed to single person transportation) and had access to vastly superior lithium batteries, his company could have been a challenger for Tesla...

Born 30th July 1940 in Richmond, Surrey
Died 16th September 2021

Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail