The Return of Clive Sinclair

The life and times of inventor Clive Sinclair, his successes and his flops.

Published: 13-Jul-2006

THERE is something missing from the sitting room of Sir Clive Sinclair's high-rise London penthouse. Although it's easy to be distracted by the stunning view over Trafalgar Square - you can look Nelson in the eye up here - not to mention the chic minimalist decor, the grand piano and the dinosaur fossils, there is one surprising omission. Sinclair, the man who pioneered the home-computer revolution with his sub-£100 ZX80 model, does not have a PC anywhere in his home.

It may seem a retrograde choice, but Sinclair - who has Scottish roots of which he is intensely proud, and represents the third generation of engineers in his family - is not someone you could accuse of being backward-looking. He was born in Richmond, Surrey, in 1940, and his first professional invention was the Microkit, a radio circuit he completed when he was 18. At that time he was also the editor of Practical Wireless magazine, but soon escaped to become a full-time engineer. At 21 he wed Ann, with whom he shared a 25-year marriage and had three children.

In 1984, Sinclair delivered a speech to the US Congressional Clearinghouse on the Future. Crammed with senators and senior academics, this congregation (eventually co-chaired by a young senator named Al Gore) let contributing speakers peer into the future of their specialised areas of expertise. It was here Sinclair furnished an address that led one academic to label him "the Nostradamus of the microchip".

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