Planet Sinclair


x The Machines
x Machines: 1980s
x C5
x FM Wristwatch Radio
x Interfaces One and Two
x "Loki"
O Microdrive
x PC200
x QL
x RAMpacks
x Timex Sinclairs
x TV80 (Pocket TV)
x ZX80
x ZX81
x ZX Printer
x ZX Spectrum /
128 / +2 / +3
x Z88

Last updated
7 Jan 1998

The Microdrive


Sinclair never did the obvious, and this was perhaps most evident in his quirky Microdrive mass storage device. It was intended to be a budget alternative to then-expensive floppy disks, and in fact was something of an engineering miracle. It was moderately successful and second-hand Microdrives are today quite common, though working ones are rather harder to find.

The first Microdrives were produced for the Spectrum and cost 50 (but you needed a 50 Interface 1 as well). The QL also used Microdrives, though QL and Spectrum Microdrive cartridges used different formats and so could not exchange data. Inside each cartridge (technically known as a "stringy floppy") was 6 meters of 1.9mm magnetic tape, which ran at 76cms per second, enabling the storage of 85K of data. Unfortunately, the cartridges were expensive, relatively scarce, prone to tangling and did not have a long service life. Technology soon overtook the Microdrive;

When the price of conventional disk drives fell, although Amstrad had bought the rights, the Microdrive was abandoned - instead, Amstrad's own 3" disk format was used on the Spectrum +3.

*   Microdrive and Interface 1 finally arrive
(Your Computer, September 1983)
*   Technoturkeys: the Sinclair Microdrive
(Daily Telegraph, 28 October 1997)
*   The development of the Microdrive
(from Sinclair and the Sunrise Technology, chapter 7)
*   Search for second-hand Microdrives
(Loot magazine)