could accuse Sir Clive Sinclair of being a
quitter. He invented the first pocket calculator
and the first popular personal computer, but
things have never been quite the same after the
C5 electric car. Yesterday the man whose name has
latterly become a synonym for eccentric British
failure unveiled his latest gadget to the world.
It is small, round and fits in your ear.
The X1 button radio might just be the thing
which relaunches Sir Clive's fortunes. Then
again, it might not. Powered by a tiny lithium
cell and with a built-in aerial, the FM radio is
an ''astonishing breakthrough in electronic
miniaturisation'', the inventor claims. It has an
autoscan facility similar to that in a car radio
and you change pre-programmed stations by
pressing a tiny button.
While the X1 weighs only half an ounce, you do
have to clip it on to your ear. ''Its
revolutionary design means that you can walk, run
- even dance - without fear of it getting in the
way,'' Sir Clive (above) said yesterday.
"Sitting snugly in your ear, it will
enable you to listen to your favourite station
wherever you are, and so discreetly that even the
person next to you will be unaware you are using
And the price? A modest £9.50.
A spokeswoman for his company, Sinclair
Research, admitted yesterday the inventor was
keen to raise his public profile after a period
out of the headlines. ''It's true he's not been
doing heaps,'' she said. ''He's trying to
relaunch himself at present and prepare for later
this year when he is going to unveil something
else.'' It is still a closely guarded secret.
Sir Clive has invented radios before. Thirty
years ago he achieved success with the Sinclair
Micromatic radio, a medium-wave radio smaller
than a matchbox. He then turned his attentions to
hi-fi and digital watches, made a fortune with
personal computers in the early 1980s, but blew
it all again with the launch of the disastrous C5
electric car in 1985. Sir Clive predicted 100,000
would be sold each year, but production was
stopped at barely a tenth of that. Since then a
Zike bike and a Zeta - Zero-Emission Transport
Accessory - have come and gone. ''The X1 is a
curtain-raiser. There are other things to come,'
the spokeswoman said.