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1986: Sinclair sells computer business

Home-computing pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair has sold the marketing and merchandising rights to his inventions for 5m to computing rival Amstrad.

The sale means the withdrawal of Sir Clive from the market in home computers which his products played so great a role in creating.

However, the Amstrad deal allows him to keep control of Sinclair Research which has recently been making losses of about 1m per month.

The 5m will be paid to Sinclair Research's creditors who are owed a total of 7m.

Sir Clive is widely acknowledged as a brilliant inventor who introduced miniature televisions, pocket calculators and digital watches to Britain in the 1960s and 1970s.

His big breakthrough came in 1980 with the launch of the ZX80, a computer priced at less than 100.

His most famous and successful product, the ZX Spectrum, earned him a fortune - and a knighthood for "services to British industry".

Price cuts

It created a new market in home computing as ordinary people could afford the machines for the first time.

However, his products were not always reliable and he is believed to have lost millions of pounds after his latest invention, the C5 electric tricycle, failed to find a market.

Over-ordering of home computers by retailers and more competition meant that last year the prices of the machines were slashed drastically.

The price cuts forced Sir Clive to postpone floating his company on the Stock Exchange.

However, in spite of the downturn, Sinclair computers are still the market leaders with a 40% share.

Amstrad which has bought the rights to them has gone from strength to strength in recent years and in 1985 made a profit of 20m.

The takeover will result in a large number of redundancies among the 100 staff at Sinclair Research.

The first Sinclair computer to be launched under Amstrad ownership is expected in time for Christmas.

In Context
Amstrad continued to produce the ZX Spectrum for two more years.

The company, owned and run by Alan Sugar, revolutionised the home computer market in the UK by producing affordable "no-frills" machines.

When Amstrad's share price fell in the 1990s recession, Mr Sugar reorganised the company and launched a new generation of consumer products, such as the e-mail enabled phone.

He was knighted in 1999 and a year later his company was the first to have full approval from TV satellite company BSkyB for the Amstrad digital set-top box.

He became chairman of London's Tottenham Hotspur football club in 1991 until 2001.

Sir Clive Sinclair still controls Sinclair Research.

His recent inventions include a device which propels bicycles without the need for pedalling and a radio the size of a 10p coin, designed to fit in the ear.


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