You may remember Clive Sinclair as the inventor of the pocket calculator, but you may not realize that his company still exists. In fact, Sinclair released a super-compact, folding "A-Bike" only a few years ago. It still lives!
Truth be told, seeing an image of the Sinclair Sovereign on Boing Boing Gadgets this morning sparked a wave of nostalgia among those of us here who are old enough to remember the nutty little company. For those of you who are unfamiliar, allow me get you up to speed.
Clive Sinclair is one of those obsessive tinkerers that has his hand in various and seemingly unrelated kinds of gadgetry. Kind of like a predecessor of the James Dyson types we hear a lot about today. As mentioned earlier, Sinclair developed the first pocket calculators starting with the Executive model in 1972, but he also single-handedly launched the personal computer industry in England with his ZX Spectrum ten years later. The Spectrum ran on a 3.5 MHz Zilog Z80A CPU, with 16K-49KB of RAM and eye popping 256×192 resolution. Not powerful by any stretch of the imagination, but it was affordable and easy to operate which made it attractive to a mass audience. Eventually, it earned Sinclair a fortune and a knighthood from the Queen for his service to British industry.
Sinclair's obsession with making gadgets smaller extended to several other product categories including mini TVs like the MTV-1, radios and, most recently, electric vehicles like the underwater SeaScooter for divers and the ill-fated cross between a Segway and a scooter that was the C5.
Perhaps the only thing more interesting than his inventions is Clive Sinclair the man. Not surprisingly, he is a brilliant mathematician who has spent part of his later years using this skill to become a champion poker player. Sinclair is also a member of the British chapter of Mensa, serving as chairman of directors for the organization from 1980 to 1997. His Wikipedia article even claims that he doesn't use the internet despite being a major figure in the history of computing. I suppose that means he probably wont read this, but I still want to acknowledge him and his [ongoing] work.
The 8 bit Spectrum was released in 1982 and was the British equivalent of the C64. It spawned hardware and software, like the Commodore, but looks a hell of a lot better.
This pocketable TV didn't actually fit in pockets, but was an insane attempt to do what was impractical at the time with the day's modern tech. Took 10 years to develop and the screen was 2 inches big. A child of the 70s. [Giz]
Sinclair's first calculator—and one of the world's first pocket sized models—is almost as gorgeous as the famous Dieter Ram's designed Braun now mimed in the iPhone UI. The model had a fatal flaw which caused it to fuse in the on position. Oops. [Sinclair Planet]
The C5, much like the Segway, was meant to revolutionize the way we transport ourselves in meatspace. It bombed, being little more than an electric tricycle. [Planet Sinclair]
The last product released by Sinclair is a bicycle that folds up more compactly than even other folding bikes. Weighs under 15 pounds and folds up in seconds. [a-bike]