Sir Clive's really small TV
By James Grahame
Sir Clive Sinclair has a never-ending fascination with small things. He started with pocket radios, moved on to pocket calculators, and released a line of really small computers in the 1980s. It stands to reason that he'd also try his hand at really tiny TV.
Sinclair released the MTV-1 Micro TV in 1978. It featured a minuscule 2-inch B&W tube and included a built-in rechargeable battery pack. Sinclair had a tradition of employing UK-based manufacturers to produce his goods and he chose Welsh manufacturer Wolsey Electronics for this product line.
The MTV-1 was incredibly small by late 1970s standards: it measured a mere 4 x 6 1/4 x 1 5/8 inches (102 x 159 x 41 mm). Not exactly small enough to fit in a pocket, but definitely compact enough to slip into a bag or toss into the back of a car. The Micro TV also earned the distinction of being the world's first multistandard TV. It shipped with the ability to switch between European PAL and North American NTSC television standards, making it ideal for gadget-hungry jet setters.
It's obvious that a lot of thought went into this tiny marvel. In fact, it took over ten expensive years to bring it to market. Sinclair was often on the bleeding edge of product development; an exciting and astronomically expensive place to be. Sinclair Radionics Ltd (his original company) raised over £1.6m from the UK government to finish MTV-1 development in 1976.
Unfortunately, the price tag ($395 in the USA) was too much for a toy television and the company lost more than £1.8m in 1978. By 1979, companies like JS&A were buying up remaining inventory at fire sale prices. Sinclair quickly started a new company -- Sinclair Research -- that produced a brilliant lineup of dirt-cheap home computers.
Micro TV Breakthrough (JS&A Surplus Ad via Modern Mechanix)