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Calculator and Spectrum computer pioneer dies

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Home computing pioneer Clive Sinclair, the pocket calculator trailblazer and the brains behind the Spectrum PCs, has died aged 81.

His daughter Belinda Sinclair told the Guardian that Sir Clive had died at his home in London on Thursday morning.

He launched the first affordable consumer computer in 1980, costing less than £100 ($A189).

The British multimillionaire entrepreneur’s company launched the ZX models in a decade where personal computer use boomed.

clive sinclair
Sir Clive Sinclair in 1986, with one of his ZX Spectrums. Photo: Getty

Sinclair became the first company in the world to sell more than a million computers.

Ms Sinclair told the BBC her father had cancer for more than a decade and was still working on inventions until last week “because that was what he loved doing”.

Sir Clive was born in 1940. His father was an engineer and designer of machine tools.

He left school at the age of 17, becoming a technical journalist writing specialist manuals.

At 22, he formed Sinclair Radionics, his first company, making mail order radio kits, including the smallest transistor radio in the world.

Later in life he pioneered the pocket calculator and was dubbed an “electronics wizard”, but had tough competition from Japan and the US in the fast-moving consumer markets.

Other ventures included expansions into digital watches and the development of the world’s smallest television set.

It was with another company, Sinclair Research, that Sir Clive found his home computing successes as he faced off against international competition.

The ZX 81 computer, launched in 1981, sold half a million units and was followed up by more powerful models.

Sir Clive was knighted in 1983. He had three children.