Oddball Micros: Sinclair QL
By James Grahame
Let's step back in time twenty-two years. Sinclair decided to reach beyond the home computer market with the introduction of a sophisticated Motorola 68008 based machine with dual 100K microtape drives, networking, multitasking, and a formidable 128K memory. The £400 Sinclair QL (Quantum Leap) was introduced with much fanfare in 1984.
It was beset with problems from the very beginning -- there were hardware issues and the machine's ROM wasn't finished in time for inclusion inside the case. It was attached using a Rube Goldberg-inspired external dongle. To make things worse, the computing market in general was going through an incredible slump. Too many incompatible machines with short lifespans had been tossed into the marketplace in the early 1980s. Business users were beginning to turn to the reliable and tank-like IBM PC or various MS-DOS clones. They were unwilling to squander a few hundred pounds on an unreliable gadget with unusual styling and strange tape drives.
Sinclair sold a mere 100,000 or so units -- far less than the millions of ZX81s and Sinclair Spectrums that had dominated the market years earlier. It marked the end -- Sinclair Research's computer division was sold off to Amstrad a couple of years later, and Sinclair himself moved on to design the clever little Cambridge Z88 notepad.
Sinclair QL computer info