Sir Clive Sinclair
's first product to hit the home computer market
. Possibly also the first real home computer at all.
It was an elegantly simple machine, offering a Zilog Z80A(8 bit, 4MHz) processor, an on-chip (4k ROM) OS and BASIC interpreter, 1024 bytes RAM, upgradable to 16k and basic character graphics. The text mode offered 32 columns by 24 rows. The graphics mode ran at 64x44 with split characters. Both modes were monochrome. There was no support for sound or other peripherics than a HF TV-screen, a cassette tape recorder as secondary storage unit, and the memory expansion RAM module. The characteristic white plastic case (174mm x 218mm) sported a touch-sensitive 40-keys QWERTY keyboard.
The BASIC interpreter ran between scan lines, since there was no dedicated graphics hardware, and it was the processor's job to draw the screen. There was provision for using machine code instructions via Peek and Poke.
The ZX 80's was initially sold as a kit, and was the introduction to computing for many hobbyists, certainly impressed by the advertisement's claims that a ZX 80 could run a nuclear power station. The price was around 100 UK pounds, cheap for the time.