It seems like an odd key to omit, given how frequently used it is and given that both the Spectrum + and 128 have one, which acts like backspace does on a modern PC. They could have swapped it for two of the lesser-used characters and placed those on alphanumeric keys with a modifier.

Reference picture from Wikipedia:

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    To lazy to write an answer... archive.org/details/h42_Sinclair_QL_User_Guide/page/n13/mode/… <ctrl>+<leftarrow> were used as rubout/delete They are next to each other, so very easy to use.
    – UncleBod
    Feb 17, 2020 at 14:27
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    This is one of those questions that only can be answered correctly if someone either was part of the team making the decision or if someone can dig up a document where the decision is discussed.
    – UncleBod
    Feb 17, 2020 at 14:31
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    @UncleBod, it's not easy to use, it's slower. A DELETE key is easy to use. It's a good question for the site.
    – TonyM
    Feb 17, 2020 at 15:07
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    The Title could be improved by asking why it lacks both Delete and Backspace keys. My first impression of the original Title was, "why does it matter?", as back then I used only the backspace key (in fact I think we used the DEL key as interrupt (like ^C is commonly used now). Feb 17, 2020 at 15:12
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    @user3570736 The QL was released on 12 January 1984, the Spectrum + in October 1984. So all previous ZX machines lacked a delete key. Feb 20, 2020 at 3:41

2 Answers 2


As Uncle Bod already pointed out, the QL did not leave out Rubout (as Sinclair called it). It's just not printed at the keycap. CTRL+<-, a combination that seams quite logical to me, will work as expected.

Having it as shifted function of on another key isn't as unusual as it seams. Already the ADM-3A did place RUB as SHIFT+-(*1), which in turn took the placement right of RUB at the end of the middle (ASDF) row from the Modell 33 TTY.

*1 - The ADM-3A is notorious for having introduced several key assignments - like H/J/K/L for vi cursor movement :)

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    "RUB OUT" is the proper name, as anyone familiar with an ASR-33 teletype will tell you :-) Feb 17, 2020 at 23:24
  • @another-dave Yeah, 3 layouts, 3 names for the same thing. One got to love it ...
    – Raffzahn
    Feb 17, 2020 at 23:33
  • Is it HJKK or HJKL? Feb 20, 2020 at 4:07
  • The K key makes up its own mind whether you meant "up" or "right" ? ;-) Feb 21, 2020 at 23:42
  • @another-dave Oh, drats. As soon as Larry Tesler dies, copy-past-error rate climbs :) Thanks.
    – Raffzahn
    Feb 21, 2020 at 23:43

The Sinclair QL has not (at least not very much besides the general cost-savy technical design and the Microdrives) been influenced a lot by ZX Spectrum computers - It's rather the other way round: ZX Spectrum Plus and Toastrack did pick up the Dickinson design of the QL computer.

The QL introduced a "Standard line editor" that understands a lot more Cursor key combinations than just "delete" (<CTRL>Right) and "backspace" (<CTRL>Left). There's word-wise (<Shift>+Cursor) and page-wise (<ALT>+Cursor) movement and deletion key combos defined in the line editor implemented by QDOS, so it appears somewhat logical that engineers didn't design in an extra key for just one of many operations.

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