The system would probably have been a much greater success if Sinclair
had put a floppy disk drive in it instead of using an abortion by the name of microdrives
. These were a small plastic cartridge with a continuous loop of magnetic tape
in them. They were very expensive
(five pounds each initially), slow
, and unreliable
The problem was that Sinclair owned the patents for microdrives and decided to use them rather that putting a single 3" or 3.5" floppy drive in (which would supposedly have cost him the same).
There was also a problem that the BIOS was originally planned to be only 32K and so when the operating system (QDOS) required 48K the first QLs shipped with a dongle that plugged in the back and supplied the other 16K of ROM. They did manage to release a version a few months later with no dongle.
It was the shipping of this computer over 3 months late after they had taken orders with a promise of shipment within 28 days that did a lot to damage Sinclair's reputation.