Sinclair ZX Spectrum vs Commodore 64

A gaming computer with 48K memory? That’s not a typo – it’s not meant to be 48GB, it is 48 kilobytes. The memory size of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum way back in 1982. You actually had a choice of the ZX with 16 kB of RAM for £125 or with 48 kB for £175 (or $100 at the time). Computer fanatics went for the 48K, then the first choice for writing game code.

The ZX Spectrum 8-bit PC was based on the Zilog Z80A CPU and ran at 3.5 MHz. Designed by Clive Sinclair, with hardware developed by Richard Altwasser, the ZX set sales records in the UK. It was a very popular gaming platform. 

There are still games available for the ZX Spectrum. In fact, the ZX software library consists of more than 24 000 titles, according to Wikipedia, referring to the Your Sinclair online publication. Popular games include Ant Attack, Rebelstar, All or Nothing, Stop the Express, R-Type, The Sentinel and Rainbow Islands.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K

The Sinclair’s competitor on the other side of the pond came in the form of the 8-bit Commodore 64, which, as its name suggests, had a 64 kilobyte memory. Also launched in 1982, it cost an eye-watering $595. The Commodore 64 was driven by either a 0.985 MHz (PAL version) or 1.023 MHz (NTSC version) CPU.

Commodore 64

Comparison with Apollo 11 AGC (Apollo Guidance Computer)

Compare the power of these popular computers with that of the computer that guided the Apollo 11 to the moon in 1969: it had a 2 kilobyte memory that ran at 0.043MHz and its read-only storage capacity was a mere 32K.

Or think about it this way: you open a musical greeting card, you have a good chuckle and bin it – you’ve just thrown away more computer power than the Apollo 11 had. In fact, it is said that the chip in a musical card has more processing power than the combined computers of the Allied Forces in WWII. How times have changed!

Fastest computer today

You’ll find the fastest computer in the world at TOP500, which lists the world’s top supercomputers twice yearly. Their Nov. 12, 2012 winner:

Titan, a Cray XK7 system installed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, achieved 17.59 Petaflop/s (quadrillions of calculations per second) on the Linpack benchmark. Titan has 560,640 processors, including 261,632 NVIDIA K20x accelerator cores.

Impressive… but there still is no computer as complex as the human brain.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k Computer Review:

03/01/2013. Category: technology. Tags: .

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