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Recently I stumbled over this article with an interesting teaser image. It shows some home computer, presumably of the eighties. Unfortunately the image is too blurry to read the keywords on the keys:

image

The keys in the lower right corner resemble the ones of the ZX Spectrum.

I tried a reverse image search on Google to find an informative source, but without success. One of the hits leads to this hint that it's a Speccy clone. Also puzzling: this specific case is the only one if Shutterstock is asked for "zx speccy", and the only clone if asked for "zx spectrum". Possibly that site has no other images tagged...

Unfortunately the Wikipedia page with the list of ZX Spectrum clones does not provide images for all of them. Following the links to the sources did not reveal any similar model. To be honest, I did not try all of them.

What computer is this?

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    Apparently the picture is from Shutterstock with the description "Retro 8 bit DIY home computer with cassete data recorder and monitor from tv set". So teh case could be a "I take what I can get my hands on" case. A wild guess is that it is of east european origin, wich doesn't help much, since that part of the world seems to have the biggest number of Spectrum clone models (some less compatible than others).
    – UncleBod
    Aug 28, 2023 at 8:32
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    More than one keyword on a key doesn't automatically imply "Sinclair Spectrum". Could also be ZX80, ZX81 or Jupiter Ace. Even the Laser VZ computer (and some other, more exotic ones) had single key input.
    – tofro
    Aug 28, 2023 at 8:42
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    @tofro Right, however, the two rightmost keys in the bottom row seem to say "SYMBOL/SHIFT" and "BREAK/SPACE" as on the Speccy, but not on the ZX80 or ZX81. The Jupiter ACE has no keywords on its keys. Aug 28, 2023 at 9:37
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    I can make out the J/-/LOAD, K/+/LIST, and L/=/LET/ keys though, to be honest, the = was a bit iffy. But the rest very much indicates a Spectrum, and the lengths of the yellow text matches the expected VAL$/SCREEN$/ATTR and I can make them out once I know what they should be. Though that may be the pattern-matching behaviour of the mind, the same thing that lets me see animals in clouds :-)
    – paxdiablo
    Aug 29, 2023 at 12:15
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    @Frog There were several for the Spectrum too, most notably the DK'tronics keyboard, the Lo-Profile, and the Saga 1 Emperor. The DK'tronics keyboard was also available for the ZX81 - it just had different stickers on the keys. The one pictured isn't one of these three. Sep 2, 2023 at 8:37

1 Answer 1

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Judging from the block graphics on the number keys, this computer is a ZX Spectrum clone. On the 8 key, it's a solid graphic, and on the 7 key it's filled in in the lower left corner. This is consistent with a ZX Spectrum, but not with a ZX81 or ZX80 or Jupiter Ace.

One fact that corroborates this conjecture is that the TV set appears to be the black and white Сапфир 412 from Ryazan, just South-East of Moscow. That would mean this setup is very likely to be from the USSR, and probably Russia. In Soviet Russia, there were ZX Spectrum, but the ZX80, ZX81 and Jupiters were basically unknown.

The tape recorder seems to be the Panasonic RQ-2104, which judging by second-hand auction sites, appears to have been popular in the Russian part of Central Asia as well. Or it could have been added to the setup later, who knows.

Of course, this does not narrow it down much; there were hundreds of no-name ZX Spectrum clones manufactured all over Eurasia. It could have been cobbled together out of scraps and then put in a random case from an answering machine or anything like that, without having any particular brand name.

So my best bet is it's a clone of the 48K ZX Spectrum. (16K Spectrums were not common in the USSR, but I don't know why. And 128K Spectrums were quite common, but usually were augmented with 5¼" floppy drives and TR-DOS).

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    Also, many clones (and clones of clones!) seem to have been available in minimal kit forms where people made their own cases and keyboards or at least sourced them from far and wide. Aug 29, 2023 at 4:11
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    Thanks for the edit @Toby, I remember my four-year-old helped me write this answer. Aug 31, 2023 at 13:20
  • "cobbled together out of scraps and then put in a random case" - you make that sound like a bad thing but it was actually the fun of my youth, depressing though that may be :-) But very good investigative skills identifying the various bits.
    – paxdiablo
    Sep 1, 2023 at 22:53
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    @paxdiablo, Oh I certainly don't mean to make it sound like a bad thing; not at all, and certainly not depressing! But I get the impression that the ZX Spectrum clones of the USSR were much more DIYable than, say, a БК or ДВК. Sep 2, 2023 at 13:37

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