Sinclair, Sir Clive Maries

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b. 30 July 1940
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English electronic engineer and inventor.
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The son of G.W.C.Sinclair, a machine tool engineer, the young Sinclair's education was disrupted by the failure of his father's business. Aged 12 he left Boxgrove preparatory school and went through twelve more schools before leaving St George's School, Weybridge, at the age of 17. His first job was as an editorial assistant on a hobbyist's magazine, Practical Wireless, and his next as an editor at Bernard Books, writing a series of technical manuals. In 1961 he registered Sinclair Radionics and in the following year announced its first product, a micro-amplifier. This was the first of a series of miniaturized radio products that he put on the market while retaining his editorial job. In 1972 he launched the Sinclair Executive calculator, selling originally at £79.95 but later at £24.95. In 1976, the Black Watch, an electronic watch with digital light-emitting diode (LED) display, was marketed, to be followed by the TV1A, a miniature television with a 2 in. (5 cm) monochrome screen. During the latter part of this period, Sinclair Radionics was supported by investment from the UK National Enterprise Board, who appointed an outside managing director; after making a considerable loss, they closed the company in 1979. However, Sinclair Electronics had already been set up and started to market the UK's first cheap computer kit, the MK 14, which was followed by the ZX 80 and later the ZX 81. Price was kept at a minimum by the extensive use of existing components, though this was a restriction on performance. The small memory was enhanced from one kilobyte to seventeen kilobytes with the addition of a separate memory unit. In January 1985 Sinclair produced the Sinclair C5, a small three-wheeled vehicle driven by a washing-machine engine, intended as a revolutionary new form of personal transport; perceived as unsafe and impractical, it did not prove popular, and the failure of this venture resulted in a contraction of Sinclair's business activities. Later in 1985, a rival electronics company, Amstrad, paid £35,000,000 for all rights to existing Sinclair computer products.
In March 1992, the irrepressible Sinclair launched his latest brainchild, the Zike electric bicycle; a price of £499 was forecast. This machine, powered by an electric motor but with pedal assistance, had a top speed of 19 km/h (12 mph) and, on full power, would run for up to one hour. Its lightweight nickel-cadmium battery could be recharged either by a generator or by free-wheeling. Although more practical than the C5, it did not bring Sinclair success on the scale of his earlier micro-electronic products.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Knighted 1983.
Further Reading
I.Adamson and R.Kennedy, 1986, Sinclair and the "Sunrise" Technology, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
IMcN

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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