ZX Spectrum to make its return as a Bluetooth gaming device

6 Jan 2014

Iconic 1980s personal computer the 48k ZX Spectrum is set to make a comeback as a Bluetooth-enabled iOS and Android games machine thanks to a new Kickstarter campaign.

The campaign, by UK tech firm Elite Systems based in Lichfield, aims to recreate the device as a wireless keyboard aimed at iOS and Android phones and tablets.

So far, the campaign is more than half way to its stg£66,000 goal, with more than stg£33,000 raised at the time of writing, with 25 days left to go.

“The recreated Sinclair ZX Spectrum will be a Bluetooth keyboard, initially for iOS and subsequently for Android and Windows phones and tablets (as well as for PCs and Macs), in the form factor of a 48k Sinclair ZX Spectrum,” Elite Systems wrote in its Kickstarter proposal.

“It will be known as the Bluetooth ZX Spectrum. ZX Spectrum is a licensed trademark. The Bluetooth ZX Spectrum will connect wirelessly to, for example, an iPad, and in turn to a TV via Apple Airplay.”

Games and apps for Bluetooth ZX Spectrum

Bluetooth ZX Spectrum

Simultaneously, Elite Systems will also launch a range of Bluetooth ZX Spectrum apps and games.

“By default, when used in conjunction with the simultaneously released and separately sold Bluetooth ZX Spectrum apps, available from the iTunes App Store and subsequently from Google Play, the Amazon App Store and Windows Store, the Bluetooth ZX Spectrum will provide authentic rubber-key play control over a comprehensive catalogue of 100pc original, officially licensed, paid-for Bluetooth ZX Spectrum games (and more) via a secure App Store environment.”

The apps will include popular ZX Spectrum games, such as Jet Set Willy, Manic Miner and Chuckie Egg.

The Bluetooth ZX Spectrum will sell for between stg£39.99 and stg£49.99 and will be available for purchase only online.

Elite has entered into an agreement with the owners of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum intellectual property rights, and so far is the only company in the world to be granted the rights to the trademarks and to replicate the form factor of the ZX Spectrum, which debuted in 1982.

The effort to reproduce the ZX Spectrum – which will be physically identical to the original only with the addition of a blue light to denote Bluetooth status – follows similar efforts to bring back rival devices, such as the Commodore 64.

The Commodore 64 returned in 2011 in shape only – inside was a modern Ubunto 10.04-powered computer with a dual-core Intel Atom D525 1.8GHz microprocessor.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years