Sinclair ZX81 BASIC v CBM BASIC V2   Leave a comment

Sinclair ZX81 with 16K RAM pack

Sinclair ZX81 with 16K RAM pack

Sinclair ZX81 BASIC v C64 BASIC

The Sinclair ZX81 was designed to be a cheap introduction to computers, to bring computers down to a price that the general public could afford and to generate some interest in computing. It only had a B&W monochrome display, but a lot of other computers of the time were usually plugged into monochrome green screen monitors. Clive Sinclair built the ZX80 to sell at under £100 and the ZX81 was the more famous and longer lasting follow up to that machine. HOWEVER, ZX80 owners weren’t left out in the cold because a new ZX81 ROM could be fitted to their machines. This was totally out of the question for Commodore!

Although the ZX81 only had 1K RAM, its dialect of BASIC was superior to Commodore 64 BASIC in some ways. The most spectacular commands IMHO on the ZX81 were PLOT and UNPLOT. These commands allowed the user to plot points on the low resolution graphics screen. As it had a resolution of 64 x 48, this could provide hours of fun, more than the old Etch a Sketch toy  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etch_A_Sketch  , because it was possible to save your creations. Attempting to do the equivalent in Commodore 64 BASIC (Commodore BASIC V2) would only cause hours of stress and possibly brain damage! Commodore 64 owners would have to either be satisfied with the graphic characters (on a 40×25 character grid), or try to learn 6502 Assembly Language (not for beginners!), just to plot points or draw lines. Obviously, a much easier solution would be to sell the Commodore 64 and buy any non Commodore computer.

ZX81 keyboard closeup

ZX81 keyboard closeup

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Posted August 9, 2012 by C64hater in Uncategorized

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