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Online Since 1999.
Last updated: 3.November, 2023.
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Platform info    Games list   

ZX Spectrum 48/128

Type: Computer
Publisher: Sinclair Research
Firstly released in: United Kingdom
First release: Apr 1982
Release and compatibility details: Compatible computers: ZX Spectrum (1982), ZX Spectrum + (1984), ZX Spectrum 128K (released in 1985), then Amstrad bought Sinclair mark and released ZX Spectrum +2 (1986) and ZX Spectrum +3 (1987), both compatible downwards too.

Success and unsuccess:

Most popular years: 1982-1988, in Eastern Europe until 1994.
Most popular countries: UK, Spain, USSR (former), Italy, Czechoslovakia (Former), Poland, Netherlands, Australia
Amount of games in database: 4344 (list)
Amount of music records in database: 492 (list)
Amount of downloadable MOD tunes: 6 (list)
Amount of downloadable MIDI tunes: 1 (list)
Importance on the market in the most popular years: Very high


ZX Spectrum home computers were very popular and if we count amount of released games, they were one of the most successful 8-bit home computer ever after Commodore 64. This was not caused by any strong hardware, but due to opposite - simplicity. Because ZX Spectrum was really very simple and cheap, it was very easy to make games for it, and because of very well known hardware, there have been lot of cheap compatible Spectrum clones made (especially in eastern Europe), which caused the Spectrum to survive long ago after it died in West Europe and after Sinclair was sold to Amstrad.

First ZX Spectrum (or also called ZX Spectrum 16K or 48K) was released with Z80 processor, beeper sound, optionally 16K or 48K RAM and simple graphics. It was replaced two years later with ZX Spectrum + (it was exactly the same one, only with better keyboard). Last model from Sinclair Research company was ZX Spectrum 128K, and it was very well enhanced especially with new Yamaha AY-3-8912 soundchip (used also in MSX computers, Oric computers and Atari ST series) and with 128K of memory. Although this computer became very popular and lot of games were made on it, it was very short on the shelves, because Sinclair name was bought with Amstrad company and they released ZX Spectrum +2 soon. Spectrum +2 from Amstrad was very infamous because of compatibility problems with old Spectrum in first models. Last, "ultimative" Spectrum was Spectrum +3, which has all the features from Spectrums before, plus added not very standard 3" disk drive and their own +3 DOS. But this one came too late, when have been Amiga and Atari ST on the market, and no one was interested in 8-bit more. Therefore this was last computer released under Sinclar name and the Sinclair company went slowly to the history...

Sinclair ZX Spectrum:

CPU: Zilog Z80 A, 3.5 MHz
RAM: 16k or 48k (42k left for programming)
ROM: 16k (Basic & OS)
KEYBOARD: QWERTY rubber keyboard (40 keys) with up to 6 functions by keys !
TEXT MODES: 32 x 24
GRAPHIC MODES: 256 x 192
COLORS: 8 with two tones each (normal and bright)
SOUND: 1 voice / 10 octaves (Beeper)

More info: http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=223

Sinclair ZX Spectrum Plus:
Same as Spectrum except:
KEYBOARD: QWERTY simi-mechanical keyboard

More info: http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=480

Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128:

Same as Spectrum+, except:
BUILT IN LANGUAGE: Sinclair Basic 48k and Sinclair Basic 128k
RAM: 128kb
ROM: 32kb (16k 48k Basic + 16k 128k Basic)
SOUND: 3 channels, 7 octaves (Yamaha AY-3-8912)

More info: http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=35

Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2:

Same as Spectrum 128, except:
ROM: Spectrum +2 32 kb, Spectrum +2A/B 64k
Built in Tape recorder

More info: http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=221

Sinclair ZX Spectrum +3:
Same as ZX Spectrum 128, except:
BUILT IN LANGUAGE: 48K Spectrum BASIC (compatibility mode) and 128K Spectrum ZX+3 BASIC, integrated with +3 DOS
Built in 3" Hitachi disk drive

More info: http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=222

Games and music info:

Most common media for storing games: Cassette
Average packed game size: 25 kB
Music formats: AY

Emulation info:

ZX Spectrum emulation is in very good state and almost 10 years are available emulators which are very close to 100% emulation state. In nowadays the best emulators try to close every single graphics effect to real Spectrum, so if you are not based on really lowest detail maybe 10 emulators will satisfy you - only problem is that some of them are older a bit and you can experience difficulties running it on new systems like Windows 2000 or XPs and the search for stable WinXP/2000 Spectrum emulator is not so simple yet. That's why I have chosen 4 emulators now, everyone for different types of users.

Spin - Normal user choice - This seems to be the best now for Windows, it's new, stable and still very well progressing emulator with very nice GUI, all necessary features and high compatibility. I recognized only few issues like small latency of sound, but it's nothing very important. Because it has not homepage yet (!), the link is direct link to download file. If it won't work, try to find it here.

RealSpectrum - Advanced user choice - the most complex and most accurate emulation of all ZX Spectrum models, if you are lucky enough and your computer configuration will like it. It's really very unstable and sensitive for configuration, so don't expect lot especially under Windows 2000/XP.

ZX32 - Beginner choice - Opposite of Real Spectrum. Very simple emulator of ZX Spectrum 48/128 for Windows, which was made for beginners which don't know Spectrum hardware and loading mechanisms, just simply want load a game and play :) But after deeper look, you can see some difficulties here, especially with sound, which cracks in certains situations.

X128 - DOS choice - another very accurate emulator, and is a lot more stable than RealSpectrum, but it's only for DOS...

So as you see, every Spectrum emulator has its buts now. This is typical example that accurate emulation is not enough. We had accurate emulator for around 5-6 years, but we can't find easy, simple and accurate emulator on new OSes yet...

Look at World of Spectrum for lot of games and other resources about ZX Spectrum.

This emulation info was written on 20.January 2003. (This time is very important, because emulation info very depends on the time it was written - emulators can improve a lot after this time..).

Record created/updated: 19. January 2006.
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Information provided here may not be accurate and are provided only as an informative resource, without any warranty.