Oddball Micros: Timex Sinclair 2068
By James Grahame
The $199.99 Timex Sinclair 2068 was the fourth and final Sinclair-designed machine marketed in the USA. Released in late 1983, it didn't meet sales forecasts and was quickly discontinued. Part of the problem was that the machine wasn't 100% compatible with the incredibly popular Sinclair ZX Spectrum (sold as the Timex Sinclair 2048 in the US).
The TS 2068 was an extended version of the popular British ZX Spectrum. In addition to a 3.5 MHz Zilog Z80 processor and larger 48K RAM & 24K ROM, the engineers added a General Instrument AY-3-8912 sound chip (later included in the ZX Spectrum+ 128K, although with imcompatible addressing ), dual joystick ports, and an awkwardly sized cartridge port to the right of the keyboard for quick loading ROM programs and games (this made lots of sense in the early 1980s world of cassette-based storage). There were also a couple of additional video modes and some additional BASIC language commands. Great on paper, but not so great when your favorite Speccy game didn't run.
The incompatibility problem was largely solved by the introduction of Lemon Soft's Magic Emulator cartridge, which did a great job of smoothing the differences between the ZX Spectrum and this new supercharged version. Sadly, it really didn't matter because the machine ceased production after approximately 80,000 units rolled off the production line.
A slightly different version of this machine - the Timex Computer 2068 - remained in production in Portugal until 1989, making it the longest lived Sinclair model. The TC 2068 included PAL video and a Spectrum expansion bus port. Because Timex Portugal was only allowed to market their product outside Sinclair's market area, they also produced the Polish Unipolbrit Komputer 2086. [photo by Facundo A. Fernández / flickr]