Sinclair ZX81 Archived News Items

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05 March 2019Today in 1981: the Sinclair ZX81 Issue One was released

It is commonly considered to be the machine that brought computing to the general public in the United Kingdom as it was affordable at £69.95 and it was the first computer to be available to buy in high street shops like W.H. Smiths. The computer was physically quite small measuring 167mm deep by 40mm high. The slim plastic case included a membrane keyboard and a single circuit board. The entire machine weighs just 350 grams.

With only 1Kb of RAM, and 8Kb of ROM the ZX81 was not capable of colour graphics. However, it didn’t stop the sales of this machine which sold over 1.5 million units.

So Happy Birthday ZX81, we love you!

18 March 2018Roust! ZX81 Birthday Edition by Allan Turvey

A few days ago, Allan Turvey kindly sent me over the “ZX81 Birthday Edition” of his awesome ZX Spectrum game Roust. Roust is a ZX Spectrum conversion of the 1982 Arcade game, Joust. You can read more about Allan’s game in our previous posts here. The new birthday edition, is pretty much the same game, except it’s been skinned over to look like a ZX81 game. As you can see in the video below, Allan has used a ZX81 character set to replace all the graphics, and sound has been disabled for realism. A nice little nod to the ZX81.

06 March 201810 PRINT "ZX81 at 37" 20 GOTO 10

Over 40? You've used one of these. Of course you have

The ZX81 was launched 37 years ago this week as a £49.95 kit (£69.95 assembled) and introduced an entire generation to the joys of computing, fights over the family television and prodigious use of sticky tape.

Click here to read the full article

15 May 2016New 1K Hi-Res ZX81 games

Johan "Dr Beep" Koelman's been in touch, informing us of a bunch of new 1K Hi-resolution ZX81 games he's been working on.

After Q-bert (2013), four new games have been coded in 1K hires in 2015 and 2016, with one still a work in progress:
The Edge - The Edge is a 1 player cardgame where chance will finish you the game or not. 52 hires cards, board and gameplay in 1K.
Marble Racer - Marble Racer is a racing game with drifting through corners. Race 5 rounds a.s.a.p.
Roadracer - a simplified version of Grandpr1x for the ZX Spectrum. In 1K a 3D view on a racetrack and goal to drive 2 rounds as quickly as you can. Hitting the side of the track will stop the car.
2D Monster Maze - a spin-off of 3D Monster Maze. After a day at the fair with no visitors Rex must be fed manually. Find the food before becoming the food. If the suspense won't kill you, Rex will.

In progress: Asteroidbelt - A classic starship travel through space avoiding asteroids.

All of the above are available free for download from Sinclair ZX World.
Thanks Johan!

01 April 2016Hopper - ZX81 Retro Review by Steve Trower

In the early 80s, when video games were just starting their migration from the arcades to the living room, it was common for games programmers to take their inspiration from the more popular arcade games, and so we ended up with a million and one variations on Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Frogger - and landing fairly obviously in Frogger's pond is Hopper, released for the 16K ZX81 by Personal Software Services (PSS) in 1982.

Click here to read the full article

15 February 2016Smallest FIDE-rules Chess game for ZX81

Just released for ZX81 enthusiasts is a new chess program - one that is able to play full FIDE chess with the base 1K hardware!

This extremely full-featured yet compact version has been developed by Stefano Marag, who also thanks Karl Onkel, Stefano Bodrato, Johan Koelman and Zsolt Gal. The version here started life as a further development from the Micro-Max chess engine developed by H.G.Muller, which in less than 1200 characters included the engine and even the user interface with legality move check. This ZX81 version is a full re-write, and is around 750 characters long, with full FIDE rules, meaning including the management of en-passant, castling and under promotion.

For more information and downloads you can refer to Super Micro official page: For convenience, you can also download the .P file directly from here.

26 October 2015ZXzine Issue 2 out now

Issue 2 of Tim Swenson's new e-zine, ZXzine, is now available for download.

In this issue there are more articles on writing code for your ZX81, including C code using the Z88DK (Developer Kit), a review of Sinclair's Vu-Calc spreadsheet, a test of Matthias Swatosch's new HRG-ms high-res graphics package, and an article on the ZX81 clone, the MicroAce.

You can read this issue here.

24 July 2015New e-zine available, ZXzine

Tim Swenson has put together a new ZX81-dedicated electronic magazine! The first issue can be downloaded from his Google site here. He has also been active in the Sinclair QL community, and has another e-zine called SMSQzine, which can also be downloaded.

Issue 1 has an interesting article on the ZX80 and ZX81 being introduced to the US market, a piece on compilers, code for plotting and drawing, and an introduction to MicroSync Services who used to repair Sinclair computers in the US. Tim provides access to a zip file containing all the type-in programs in the issue. It contains an emulator-friendly .p file.

You can read Issue 1 here.

30 June 2015Dragons Lair port for ZX81 now available to buy

For a computer with a mere 1kb of available memory and an incredibly limited black and white display, its fair to assume that few advanced video games (other than Monster Maze) hit the Sinclair ZX81. Knowing its limitations though, veteran games developer Jim Bagley decided to do the impossible - port the full motion video arcade hit Dragons Lair to the primitive home computer.

Jim Bagley (best known for his ZX Spectrum port of Midnight Resistance and Cabal) has managed to bring the most out of the vintage system through various methods of coding trickery. Having been granted the rights to sell his efforts by the current owners, Bagley has begun directly selling his impressive port of Dragons Lair on a 4GB SD card. While the ZX81 may not have come with an SD card slot, the aftermarket device known as the ZXpand 2.5 will allow you to get going with this port on the original hardware. The SD card comes with full instructions, including the ZXpand firmware update 'Dragon', which is necessary to play the game. Sadly the ZXpand's optional music board nor the joystick interface are used, so there is no sound and control is done via the ZX81's membrane keyboard. Still, this is a very impressive technical marvel for ZX81 and DL fans!

You can buy the Dragon's Lair for ZX81 SD card for a very reasonable 10 from

22 October 2014Thro The Wall, G007 HRG board version !

Thro The Wall, G007 HRG board version for ZX81!

As far as I know any EightyOne version will work.
Choose a 16K RAMPack, Set "Chr$ Gen" to Sinclair, and "G007" as HRG board. On "Advanced Settings" flag only "Protect ROM from writes" and "Enable RAM in 8K-16K".

If you are unsure you can test the HRG BOARD (emulated or not) with the following commands: CLS 3 (the gfx page will be prepared, with BLACK background) SLOW 4 (the black page will be shown) PLOT 100,100,100 (it will draw a dotted line)

Click here to download the game

15 September 2014Unkatris - Impressive Tetris clone for 1K Sinclair ZX81

The screenshot might not look like much but when you think how well Tetris actually plays and looks today you'll be pretty impressed to see that this is a Tetris clone on just a Sinclair 1k ZX81!

Developed by antoniovillena and using the original code of a ZX81, "Unkatris" has the same objective of manipulating shapes with the aim of creating a horizontal filled line of blocks without gaps. Not only is it great fun but it's seriously impressive how the developer has made it seem so Tetris and run incredibly well on such an old retro system.

See more at:

14 August 2014ZXpand-AY Sound Module by RWAP Software

If you've already purchased a ZXpand for your ZX81, TS-1000 or TS-1500 computer, you're ready to add the ZXpand-AY Sound Module!

This clever piece of kit plugs directly into the back of the ZXpand, and gives the ZX81 a full AY sound output capabilities as well as a joystick port.

It comes complete with a full Yamaha YM1249 sound chip (equivalent to the AY-3-8910) and an Atari/ZX Spectrum style DB-9 joystick port. The ZXpand-AY module is fully Zon-X compatible, and uses a mixer circuit to provide stereo output.

Files can be converted using MIDI2AY and then using a custom ZX81 player.

Head over to for more details or to order.

09 May 2014Monochrome Issue #5 out now

The latest periodical of the excellent ZX81 online and paper publication "Monochrome" is out now!

This issue contains news on several new games including 16K ZXAGON, a No-Flic game for the Zx80 called Res-Cue80 (by Zsolt), Nuclear Invaders and Shifted frmo Revival Studios. On the hardware side, member Pokemon's ZX81XRAM is a 32K RAM expansion which offers 32K of BASIC RAM without the need to modify the ramtop, Joy81 - a programmable joystick interface, and further info on the ZX-UNO multimachine. Much more content inside !

For those who subscribe, you will have already received your copies in the mail. Alternatively read up on the latest ZX81 news right here.

20 April 2014MonoChrome Issue #4 out now

MONOCHROME magazine is a Sinclair ZX81 fanzine produced by Yerzmyey. The magazine is 12 pages long, printed in high quality using a special ZX font, in an A5 booklet.

Excellent quality with news for ZX80, ZX81 users, and their clones, packed with news and reviews of software and hardware.

You can buy it right now on Price: 0.75 (+shipping).
Click here to read previous issues of the magazine:

14 March 2014VB81 Emulator updated

Based on Chris Cowley's vb81 Version 1.30, this new release is called VB81 XuR, by Xavier Martin (XavSnap). It adds support for more peripherals, and includes various additional tools to the VB81 emulator, including:
- An onboard Basic compiler.
- Retrieve text files / write a text file using Save MYPRG.TXT
- A powerfull file explorer.
- Disassembler/debugger with Rom comments.
- A real-time binary editor.
- A variables viewer.(strings, arrays...)
- A real time UDG creator window.(QuickSilva & AGB cards)

Visit the site here, or download the emulator by clicking here. It contains not only the emulator executable, but also the VB6/VB5 resource files, and the VB runtimes needed to run the exe.

21 January 201416K Pacman Hi-Res released

Here is a 'hires' version of the well known maze game, tested and working on a standard ZX81 with 16K RAM pack.

Download it by clicking here.

31 October 2013Ant Attack for the '81

Bob Smith (Bob's Stuff) has released his interpretation of Sandy White's ZX Spectrum classic, Ant Attack!

Feedback from Sandy himself: "Awesome! You've really pulled off a Miracle! I'm grinning ear to ear!"

Bob had this to add: "We started to work together on the idea of using some of the code from the original in order that this not just be a remake but as close to the original as possible. Over six months later, and numerous redesigns of my code as I repeatedly ran out of memory, and the game is finished. I'm really pleased with the result, not just from a coding stance but also in my appreciation of the original game, how it was coded, and just what an amazing game it still is."

The ZX81 version requires a 16K machine. Download it by clicking here.

30 April 2013New ZX81 Games

Two new games have been launched this month!

Q*Bert by Johan "Dr Beep" Koelman is a clone of the hugely successful arcade version. It requires a 1K ZX81 and supports WRX hi-res mode. The controls are 12345 = LeftUp, 67890 = RightUp, ^ZXCV = LeftDown, BNMss sp = RightDown, ENTER = Restart. It's freeware, so feel free to download it and give feedback/support via his email at

Batz by Peterz is a clone of breakout, and requires a 16K ZX81 and supports the ZXpand joystick and AY. It's also freeware, so download it and give it a spin.

03 February 2013ZX81 Racing by Jim Bagley

A new hi-res game has been released by Jim Bagley, called ZX81 Racing. It's a top-down game similar to Super Sprint. No opponents as of yet, but still quite an achievement for the '81!

The game required a ZX81 with 16KB ram + WRX hi-res enabled, and can be played using Q or 7 = Accelerate, A or 6 = Brake O or 5 = Left, P or 8 = Right.

Download it here.

14 September 2012Mayhem - new ZX81 game by Revival Studios

Clive Junior's latest invention went terribly wrong! It exploded and all kinds of parts are flying across the room!

Your goal is clear and simple: Avoid the debris while running around and picking up parts to gain points!

Game features:
- Available on Tape and as Digital Download
- Easy to pickup, difficult to master!
- Internet Highscore uploading
- Online rewards
- Support for AY-sound boards
- ZXpand joystick interface support

Internet Highscore uploading:
After each game you will be told your highscore and shown a highscore code. This code will allow you to upload your highscores to the internet. Now you can compare your scores with players worldwide!

Go to for more information, or watch an introductory video on YouTube here.

27 January 2011ZXpand Interface launched

Launched to commemorate 30 years of the ZX81, the ZXpand interface offers 32K of expanded memory (which is configurable to support various hi-resolution graphics modes), instant file access to .p files stored on SD memory cards and more.

The Sinclair ZX81 ZXpand interface will also allow you to connect an Atari style 9-pin joystick port to play either specially written or specially adapted games.

You can also add a ZXpand-AY Sound Module which plugs into the ZXpand, to provide the Sinclair ZX81 with full AY sounds and music!

Both the ZXpand and ZXpand-AY Sound Module are available to buy from

28 May 2008EightyOne Emulator

The latest version of Michael D Wynne's ZX81 emulator has arrived! It's now up to version 1.0a, and has the following updates: Added Memory Browser (SirMorris), Added Symbols to Debugger (SirMorris), Fixed bug in OUTD/OUTIR , Instructions (MW), Fixed bug with NMI occasionally triggering twice (MW). As of v1.0 it's now Vista compatible too.

Download this version here.

12 July 2007ZX1541 Interface

Created by Luis Claudio Grosso, the ZX1541 interface connects a Timex Sinclair 1500 (in Argentina known as Czerweny CZ1500) or Sinclair ZX81 with a Commodore 1541 disk drive.

The new design has a through slot (allowing other peripherals to still be used), complete /ROMCS through signal support, IEC lines /RESET and /ATN can be read, and two LEDs showing IEC data line and interface active.

Several versions of the firmware exist, including one that has a full-screen file selector.

Head over to for more details.