Sinclair ZX81 Potential Use

Potential Use

Who would use this machine? Kids will love it (so will Dads) and, at this price, I can't think of a better way of introducing them to the subject. Most courses on computers and especially on Basic programming cost more than the ZX81. In my view you can buy a ZX81, have a lot of fun, learn a bit about computers and Basic programming and decide whether you like it or not. If you don't like it or if you decide to move on to bigger and better things, you can always sell the machine (or give it to ComputerTown). The16k RAM pack is a must for anyone doing anything remotely serious. The printer, when it arrives, will give you the chance to keep a record of all that interesting stuff you've got locked in the machine. The floating point arithmetic certainly makes the ZX81 a far more useful machine than the ZX80 and I suspect that many people will give it serious consideration as a result. You must bear in mind the sort of limitations imposed by the ZX81's inability to handle files. You can save a program with all its variables on tape, which gives you 16k for both programs and data. In my earlier example, I managed to get 100 records of 150 characters each into memory with a short program of 20 lines or so. There's no reason why you shouldn't record the program again with another 100 records, which would overcome this particular limitation. The only problem you'd be left with, then, is the fact that other programs cannot access the same data. I think that if you're really worrying about this sort of thing then maybe you require a more substantial system.

Expansion possibilities for the ZX81 are limited at the moment to the printer and the 16k RAM pack. I asked Clive Sinclair if there was any chance of disks being developed and he gave the same enigmatic answer he gave a year ago when I asked the same question about the ZX80: 'We're working on it.' Draw your own conclusions.

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