Last Updated on April 23, 2023
While it might be relatively easy to emulate the ZX Spectrum on pretty much any device going, nothing beats the real thing.
Sadly, finding a working instance of this 41 year old home computer (happy birthday, ZX Spectrum!) is pretty unusual. Even when you do, a certain amount of restoration is required. Mould can be an issue, as can broken rubber keys, faulty ports, and unreliable power supplies. Then you’ve got everything associated with bring it up-to-date, finding a workable display solution and, optionally, loading software from SD card rather than cassette or diskette.
Charles Astwood, of the YouTube channel Lost Retro Tapes, has approached the acquisition of a new ZX Spectrum in a new way. And not just the computer itself, either – this project includes a replica box, manuals, and Horizons cassette. Assembling a devoted replica costs £412.15 (cheaper than a PS5!) but the computer itself was “cloned” for a mere £262.15.
(Here is the full parts list.)
But why did he do this?
“I grew up with the Spectrum but never actually unboxed one, this is an attempt to build not only a Spectrum from completely new parts, either still manufactured, modern replacements or modern recreations such as the vULA but also the box, manuals, tape and everything else you would have come home with in 1984.”
Interestingly, the cassette (created using a TAP file and variou Audacity-based jiggery-pokery) was tested by loading via a Bush cassette recorder from Argos, which incredibly worked (modern cassette devices usually don’t when it comes to retro computers).
Astwood is auctioning the build off to raise funds for Evelina Children’s Hospital.
Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine and MakeUseOf.com.