Clive Sinclair


Clive Sinclair : biography

30 July 1940 –

Science of Cambridge

Sinclair had formed another company, initially called Ablesdeal Ltd, in 1973. This changed name several times, eventually becoming Science of Cambridge Ltd in July 1977.

In June 1978 Science of Cambridge launched a microcomputer kit, the MK14, based on the National SC/MP chip. By July 1978, a personal computer project was under way. When Sinclair learned the NewBrain could not be sold at below £100 as he envisaged, he turned to a simpler computer. In May 1979 Jim Westwood started the ZX80 project at Science of Cambridge; it was launched in February 1980 at £79.95 in kit form and £99.95 ready-built. In November, Science of Cambridge was renamed Sinclair Computers Ltd.

Sinclair Research

In March 1981, Sinclair Computers was renamed again as Sinclair Research Ltd and the Sinclair ZX81 was launched at £49.95 in kit form and £69.95 ready-built, by mail order. In February 1982 Timex obtained a license to manufacture and market Sinclair’s computers in the United States under the name Timex Sinclair. In April the ZX Spectrum was launched at £125 for the 16 kB RAM version and £175 for the 48 kB version. In March 1982 the company made an £8.55 million profit on turnover of £27.17 million, including £383,000 government grants for the TV80 flat-screen portable television.

In 1982 Sinclair converted the Barker & Wadsworth mineral water bottling factory into the company’s headquarters. (This was sold to Cambridgeshire County Council in December 1985 owing to Sinclair’s financial troubles.) The following year, he received his knighthood and formed Sinclair Vehicles Ltd. to develop electric vehicles. This resulted in the 1985 Sinclair C5.

In 1984, Sinclair launched the Sinclair QL computer, intended for professional users. Development of the ZX Spectrum continued with the enhanced ZX Spectrum 128 in 1985.

In April 1986, Sinclair Research sold the Sinclair trademark and computer business to Amstrad for £5 million. Sinclair Research Ltd. was reduced to an R&D business and holding company, with shareholdings in several spin-off companies, formed to exploit technologies developed by the company. These included Anamartic Ltd. (wafer-scale integration), Shaye Communications Ltd. (CT2 mobile telephony) and Cambridge Computer Ltd. (Z88 portable computer and satellite TV receivers).

By 1990, Sinclair Research consisted of Sinclair and two other employees, and its activities have since concentrated on personal transport, the Zike electric bicycle, Zeta bicycle motor and the A-bike folding bicycle.


Personal life

Sinclair married Ann Briscoe in 1962 and has three children: Belinda, Crispin and Bartholomew. The couple divorced in 1985. In 2010 Sinclair married Angie Bowness who has an only son, Marcus Thornton.

Despite his involvement in computing, he does not use the Internet, stating that he does not like to have "technical or mechanical things around me" as it distracts from the process of invention.

Sinclair has become a poker player. He appeared in the first three seasons of the Late Night Poker television series in Britain. He won the first season final of the Celebrity Poker Club spin-off, defeating Keith Allen.

Sinclair is a member of British Mensa, and was Chairman for 17 years from 1980 to 1997.

Sinclair was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) by the University of Bath in 1983.

Early life, family and education

Sinclair’s father and grandfather were engineers; both had been apprentices at Vickers the shipbuilders. His grandfather George Sinclair was an innovative naval architect who got the paravane, a mine sweeping device, to work. George Sinclair’s son Bill Sinclair wanted to take religious orders or become a journalist. His father suggested he train as an engineer first; Bill became a mechanical engineer and remained in the field. At the outbreak of World War II in 1939 he was running his own machine tools business in London and later worked for the Ministry of Supply.Dale 1985, pg.1

Clive Sinclair was born to George William Carter Sinclair (known as Bill) and Thora Edith Ella Marles in 1940 near Richmond, then in Surrey. He and his mother left London to stay with an aunt for safety in Devon, where they eventually travelled to Teignmouth. A telegram arrived shortly afterwards, bringing the news that their home in Richmond had been bombed. Sinclair’s father found a house in Bracknell in Berkshire. His brother Iain was born in 1943 and his sister Fiona in 1947.

At an early age Sinclair designed a submarine. During holidays he could pursue his ideas and teach himself what he wanted to know. Sinclair had little interest in sports and found himself out of place at school. He preferred the company of adults, which he got only from his family.Dale 1985, pg.2

Sinclair attended Box Grove preparatory school, excelling in mathematics. By the time he was ten, his father had financial problems. He had branched out from machine tools and planned to import miniature tractors from the U.S.; he had to give up the business. Because of his father’s problems, Sinclair had to move school several times. Sinclair took his O-levels at Highgate School in London in 1955 and A-levels in physics, pure maths, and applied maths at St. George’s College, Weybridge.Dale 1985, pg.3

During his early years, Sinclair earned money mowing lawns and washing up, and earned 6d (old pence) more than permanent staff in a cafe. Later he went for holiday jobs at electronic companies. At Solatron he enquired about the possibility of electrically propelled personal vehicles. Sinclair applied for a holiday job at Mullard and took one of his circuit designs; he was rejected for precociousness. While still at school he wrote his first article for Practical Wireless.

Sinclair did not want to go to university when he left school just before his 18th birthday; he wanted to sell miniature electronic kits by mail order to the hobby market.Dale 1985, pg.4