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There was a clone of the Sinclair Spectrum+ in South Korea called the Samsung SPC-650 that looks identical to original British version with just an extra model number/logo. It even retains the Sinclair and Spectrum names. I believe Samsung was doing some manufacturing for Sinclair in this era, so it's probably an officially re-badged model, unlike the Russian and Eastern European Speccy clones.

Samsung SPC-650

But there's very little information about it online. This was in an era before Korea's tech boom and well before the Korean Wave, so there wasn't much cultural contact between Korea and the west in those days. I've even been to Korea a bunch of times in the past twenty years but did't know about these machines to try to find one.

For comparison, there was also an official Spanish version of the Spectrum sold by Investronica in this era and we know it had ROM differences including some text strings and accented characters. There was also a French localized ROM which seems to be official.

So did the Korean version also have localized ROMs, support for Hangul (the Korean writing system), or any other differences besides the extra writing on top?

Samsung SPC-650 in its original old box


UPDATE:

I was content that the SPC-650 was probably just a Spectrum+ with a different logo, but then I watched this YouTube video which revealed more differences between the Spanish Inves and Sinclair Spectrum+ than just the accent letters and Spanish copyright message. It had a slightly different CPU speed, PAL encoding, and RAM contention between CPU and ULA than a Sinclair Speccy. This makes it seem quite possible that the SPC-650 also could easily have had such differences too even with no changes for the Korean language.

UPDATE part 2:

I just checked and apparently South Korea uses NTSC rather than PAL, so the SPC-650 would have to at least have a different RF modulator too.

UPDATE part 3:

I just stumbled upon an 8-year-old thread in Korean where a few people are reminiscing about the SPC-650's. User "Rainbow" states which Korean layout the keyboard uses!

ㅎㅎㅎ 나의 첫 PC입니다. 이 컴으로 경진대회까지 나갔던 기억이 납니다. 정보를 좀 드리면 3벌식 키보드고, 가정용 TV와 연결했습니다. 그린 모니터가 있긴 했지만 그것도 고가였던 시절이라...

It's my first PC. I remember going to a contest with this computer. To give you some information, it's a 3-beol-sik keyboard, and it's connected to a home TV. There was a green monitor, but it was expensive at the time... An

There are two main variations of Keyboard layouts for Korean. 2-beol-sik divides consonants and vowels and 3-beol-sik further divides initial and final consonants. Korean Wikipedia article. This is surprising since there are no Korean symbols on the keyboard. The author may misremember but the other details he lists about using a Speccy are accurate.

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  • I found one on a Korean site similar to Gumtree or Craigslist a few months back and contacted my friend in Korea to find out how much they wanted for it. But it wasn't actually for sale. Perhaps they just listed it to show. Everything else on the site did seem to be for sale. – hippietrail Feb 1 at 15:54
  • Maybe the 3beolsik was a 3rd party (or maybe bundled) software solution – OmarL Jun 2 at 16:04
  • @OmarL: Maybe there was just some Korean typing program it came with? – hippietrail Jun 2 at 23:22
  • That's what I'm thinking. That's certainly the approach taken by other platforms, like MS-DOS or whatever, and by other cultures. For example, Japanese IMEs are generally not baked into the operating system. – OmarL Jun 3 at 13:36
  • @OmarL: Samsung did have its own range of Z-80 machines beginning 2 years before the 650. There's more info on those but not a ton. I'm not sure what Hangul support those had. SPC-1000 etc. Looks like they were MSX? Here's a video of Hangul on an MSX: youtube.com/watch?v=5lM4eqAS5eE&ab_channel=YeongmanSeo – hippietrail Jun 3 at 13:41
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Very little seems to be known about the SPC-650. Apparently it didn't sell well, and ZX Spectrum compatibles were on the whole pretty much overlooked in the far east, excepting Russia.

There's a blog which appears to claim that it, and the other clones in the series, has some design and performance changes. It doesn't say what exactly, which makes me think this is an error in the machine translation.

So did the Korean version also have localized ROMs, support for Hangul (the Korean writing system), or any other differences besides the extra writing on top?

I don't think so. There's no Hangul on the keyboard, plus it would be hard to squeeze Hangul support into the ROM. So I think it's no more than a generic straight-forward clone without bells and whistles.

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  • "plus it would be hard to squeeze Hangul support into the ROM. " - in fact, linearized hangŭl would just about fit, by replacing e.g. the lowercase letters, and it would be even readable in 8×8 matrix characters. But I don't know if it has been used at all during the 8-bit era. – Radovan Garabík May 15 '20 at 13:32
  • @Radovan yes, and it would not be hard to compress such a hangul font. But I think there would have been mention of something like that. – OmarL May 15 '20 at 16:26

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