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Last updated
4 Feb 1998


sinclair@nvg.ntnu.no

The Company

Sir Clive Sinclair has been involved with many companies over the years, but by far the most famous is Sinclair Research - the producers of the legendary Spectrum and ZX81. This section provides an overview of Sinclair's corporate history.


   

   

1970s

19 Sep 1973   Ablesdeal Ltd incorporated. Virtually all Sinclair business activities, however, are conducted by Sinclair Radionics Ltd.
11 Feb 1975   Ablesdeal changes its name to Westminster Mail Order Ltd.
12 Jul 1976   Westminster Mail Order changes its name to Sinclair Instruments Ltd.
(Feb 1977)   (Wrist Calculator launched)
5 Jul 1977   Sinclair Instruments changes its name to Science of Cambridge Ltd.
(June 1978)   (MK14 launched)
   

1980s

(Feb 1980)   (ZX80 launched)
10 Nov 1980   Science of Cambridge changes its name to Sinclair Computers Ltd.
11 Mar 1981   Sinclair Computers changes its name to Sinclair Research Ltd.
March 1981   Sinclair Research profits 818,000 on a turnover of 4.6m.
(Mar 1981)   (ZX81 launched)
March 1982   Sinclair Research profits 8.55m on a turnover of 27.17m.
(April 1982)   (ZX Spectrum launched)
March 1983   Sinclair Vehicles Ltd. established to support development of electric vehicles.
March 1983   Sinclair Research profits 13.8m on a turnover of 54.53m.
Dec 1983   1982-83 profits announced as 14.03m with a turnover of 54.53m.
(Jan 1984)   (QL launched)
(Sep 1984)   (TV80 pocket TV launched)
Dec 1984   1983-84 profits show only a slight rise, at 14.03m, but turnover jumps to 77.69m. Writing in the annual company report, Sir Clive says that the low profit figure is largely due to the launch of major products such as the QL and the pocket television which 'added greatly to costs in the year but little to sales'.

However, other products are said to be healthy. "Our Spectrum computer continues to gain in sales. Pocket television production is increasing and we hope to expand sales abroad next calendar year ... Export sales have increased steadily and there has been rapid growth in the home market. Export sales are expected to increase as a percentage of total sales". Sinclair claims that the "technical leadership" of the company will be enhanced "now that our advanced research lab, MetaLab, is established."

(Jan 1985)   (C5 electric vehicle is launched by Sinclair Vehicles, and flops)
March 1985   Sinclair Research profits 7.9m on a turnover of 89m, with stocks held worth 34m.
July 1985   Sinclair Research enters a financial crisis caused by the disastrous failure of the C5. The company's debts reach 15m. Robert Maxwell proposes a takeover but the deal falls through.
Oct 1985   Sinclair is rescued by a financial package which includes the sale of 10m of Spectrum Pluses to the electronic retailer Dixons.
7 Apr 1986   Sinclair Research's logo and computer business is sold to Amstrad for a mere 5m. Sir Clive continues to own Sinclair Research, but can no longer use the famous logos or manufacture computers under the Sinclair name. Sinclair Research becomes a research and consultancy company, with two subsidiaries formed to pursue mobile phone and wafe-scale chip development.
(1988)   (Z88 notebook computer launched by Cambridge Computer Ltd.)
   

1990s

June 1990   1988-1989 results: a loss of 183,015 on a turnover of just 7,825. By now the company employs only three people - Sinclair himself, a sales and admin person and an R&D person.
June 1991   1989-1990 results: a profit of 618,389 (raised from a sale of assets) on a turnover of 4,754. Sir Clive writes in the company report:

In recent years, Sinclair Research Limited has exploited its technology through companies formed with investors. These ventures include Anamartic Limited, the first and only company in the world to produce products incorporating wafer scale integration (WSI), Shaye Communications Limited, one of the leaders in the CT-2 telephone field, Cambridge Computer Limited, making laptop computers and satellite receivers and Symbolkit Limited, through its licence granted to P.G.C Limited, which is developing the ultra fast computer processors.

Anamartic Limited has recently and successfully started to sell finished products. to the computer manufacturing industry. These have proved highly reliable and cost effective. The need for further capital will probably lead to dilution in our shareholding.

Shaye Communications Limited are selling their original CT-2 phone in several countries and have reached ~ turnover of around 5 million pet annum. The development of a second generation machine conforming to the common air interface (the new standard) is well advanced and should lead to a considerable growth of business.

During the year we sold the majority of our interest in Cambridge Computer Limited to S.C.l. for a nominal amount in return for a royalty stream on the satellite receivers. This was a disappointing result of our inability to raise the capital needed for the Company at a difficult time in the market.

P.G.C. Limited continues to develop its very high speed computer chip and has received an injection of capital from outside investors. Progress is very promising.

The main project within Sinclair Research Limited is a pedal bicycle dramatically lighter than any previously made. This uses lightweight composite materials to the almost complete exclusion of steel. Development is well advanced and tooling will commence soon. We intend to launch the bike in 1992.

Last year we made a reasonable profit but this is unlikely to be repeated in the current year as the bike project absorbs funds. The longer term prospects remain good.

June 1992   1990-91 results: a loss of 271,734 on a turnover of 5,486. In his statement, Sir Clive writes:

Over the past year your company has developed and tooled a radical electric bike called the Zike. This has cost 500,000 paid for partly by the sale of our remaining shares in Shaye Communications and partly by borrowings totalling 200,000. Production is due to start in late June at the works of our subcontractor Tudor Webasto in Birmingham.

There have been many electric bikes over the years but these have all weighed upwards of 35 kg making them most "unbike" like. The Zike weighs just 11 kg or about the same as an ordinary racing bike. This is a result of a new motor, electronics, battery and complete frame as the enclosed leaflet explains. If you would like to order one you are entitled to a 50 discount as a shareholder. The leaflet contains an order form.

It is too early of course to know the success of the Zike but all the early indications are encouraging. Over 2,000 members of the public rode prototypes at the Cyclex exhibition in March and were clearly impressed. 300 orders have been placed by members of the public who requested leaflets. Over 200 foreign companies have approached us for agencies and many sample orders have been placed.

(1992)   (The Zike is launched)
June 1993   1991-92 results: a loss of 592,600 on a turnover of 1,115. The auditors write that the company can only be considered a going concern because the chairman (Sir Clive) is supporting it from his own pocket. Sir Clive states:

Our company is now focussed on the Zike electric bike. This is tooled and in production with around 1,200 sold so far but two problems have arisen which, at the time of writing, have much inhibited the rate of sales which had been rising steadily. Some batteries were found to have corroded which caused us to recall Zikes, though only 1% were affected. This was not a design fault and is so far unexplained. Also Tudor Webasto who have made the Zike so far have decided to cease as they need the factory space for expansion of their core business.

We are talking to several companies interested in taking over from Tudor Webasto and we are developing new models but no reliable forecasts can yet be made.

(April 1994)   (The Zeta is launched)
June 1994   1992-93 results: a loss of 169,197 on a turnover of 379,836. In his director's report, Sir Clive writes:

Since the company year end Zike sales have continued favourably and this product now represents positive cash flow.

We have concluded an agreement with MTI Inc in Seattle whereby we licence them to sell a computer chip we developed with an associated company. This looks highly promising, we have received a first payment of 100,000, but it is too early to make predictions.

On the 28th April 1994 we launched a new product called ZETA. This is a bolt on unit which converts any bicycle to electric power. At the time of writing, 18th May, we have sold over 1,000 units by mail order at 144.95 each. Clearly the prospects look excellent.

June 1995   1993-94 results: a loss of 194,826 on a turnover of 510,943.
June 1996   1994-95 results: a loss of 303,630 on a turnover of 435,742.
(1996)   (The Zeta II is launched)
June 1997   1995-96 results: a loss of 122,873 on a turnover of 255,826. By now the staff has been reduced to one - Sinclair himelf.
(1997)   (The X1 Button Radio is launched)