The 5 essential peripherals every Sinclair ZX Spectrum owner had to have - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The 5 essential peripherals every Sinclair ZX Spectrum owner had to have

Continuing our look back at the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. This time we examine the essential peripherals every Speccy owner needed.

So you've done a deal with your parents, something along the lines of no pocket money for 6 months or it will be a joint Birthday and Christmas present, and a brand new Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k is yours. But once you get it out of the box what are you going to need to get playing. Let's take a look...

1. A Television
I'm quite sure that the home computing boom of the early 80s is more responsible for purchases of 14" colour televisions than any other reason of the time. After all, parents didn't want their living room taken up with nonsense like computer games, oh no! Not when they could be watching the exploits of Brian Tilsley or finding out what was happening in Emmerdale when it was just a Farm. So a lot of kids bedrooms got a lot of new TV's. Cheers Mum and Dad!

2. Cassette player
How else were you expected to play games? I mean, nobody wanted to type in line after line of code copied out of that month's Sinclair User did they? No. We wanted to play Jet Set Willy!
To this day the name still makes me snigger.

3. Kempston interface
The Spectrum did not have a dedicated Joystick port, this was a problem for a machine that was primarily selling because of the games available. Fortunately there were a whole lot of add on interfaces for the machine. You could choose from the official Sinclair interface or the many third party ones, but the interface of choice was the Kempston compatible. Like VHS video, Kempston out lived it's Betamax style rivals and became a must for every Speccy owning household. Now all you needed was a joystick to plug into it...

4. Quickshot Pro II
The Quickshot Pro II was a proper joystick, none of that hands free malarkey that goes on nowadays. There were handy suction cups on the bottom so you could stick it to your desk, very helpful if you were running the 100m on Daley Thompson's Decathlon! There was also an auto-fire switch included, plus this phallic shaped game controller came with micro switches! These made a nice reassuring clicking sound every time you moved it in any direction.

5. A tape to tape copying machine!
Look, I'm not condoning piracy or anything here, and I know it's no excuse to say that every other kid in school did it too, but I may have had a friend, yes that's right a friend, who might've occasionally borrowed another friends game and then I would, er, I mean he would make a copy of the game before returning it. Fortunately my Dad had a monstrous looking twin tape ghetto blaster style machine (I think it was some mid-life crises!) that I, er my friend, could use when he was at work.

There were several other peripherals I encountered during Speccy ownership, I bought a second hand disc drive at one time but had only one disc so that was a bit pointless and I had a thermal printer but no rolls of paper as it was left over from my ZX81 days, but the 5 above were the absolute essentials needed for every Spectrum owner.

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