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O Sinclair User
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Your Sinclair

Last updated
8 Jan 1998

The oldest Sinclair magazine was Sinclair User (1982-92). It started off covering the ZX81, expanded to cover the Spectrum (eventually its sole focus) and also covered the QL. The magazine was, until around 1986, very dry and serious in tone. Unlike its rivals, CRASH and Your Spectrum/Sinclair, games were only a relatively small element of SU's coverage and other matters, such as business computing, education and especially programming, were much more dominant. SU gave rise to a couple of other spin-offs: a magazine devoted to type-in programs, Sinclair Programs (1982-84), and one devoted to DIY electronics projects for the Spectrum and ZX81, Sinclair Projects (1982-83). There were also three Sinclair User Annuals (1983-85).

History of Sinclair User

The magazine remained fairly serious from its start in 1982 through to the end of 1985. In 1986, it was relaunched effectively as a games magazine. Two years later, SU and Your Sinclair began a circulation war as the readership of 8-bit magazines crumbled with the rise of the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. A tape containing half a dozen or more back-catalogue commercial games was now given away free every month with SU and Your Sinclair (and eventually with CRASH too), but the extra cost of the tapes caused a drastic cutback in the editorial content of all three magazines, with the number of pages halved inside a few months. In 1992, with circulation still falling, SU was merged with Europress' CRASH. Only one merged issue was published, in May 1992 - both magazines were killed abruptly by EMAP while the June issue was still in preparation.


One of SU's better features during its "glory days" of the mid-80s was the Gremlin column - a wonderfully vicious Private Eye-style column which heaped barbed comments on the oversized egos of the 8-bit computer industry.

Gordo Greatbelly (pseudonym)

Another SU columnist, supposedly the landlord of The Dancing Ogre, a sub-Tolkeinesque drinking tavern. "Gordo" was almost certainly a pen name for whoever happened to be doing the adventure column that month (rather like Lloyd Mangram in CRASH). His column was somewhat shorter on actual tips than his rivals on other magazines, but was nonetheless fairly entertaining.

The Gilbert Factor

One of the aforementioned oversized egos was undoubtedly that of SU's reviews editor, John Gilbert, who modestly named the magazine's reviewing system after himself. A game which scored a Gilbert Factor of 9 was, from 1985 onwards, awarded a "Sinclair User Classic" award. The Gilbert Factor was eventually replaced by a system of star ratings (five in all).

Kamikaze Bear

Whereas CRASH's sublime Jetman was without question the best comic strip character to appear in a computer magazine, Kamikaze Bear must count as one of the most naff. He first appeared on the June '87 cover as an ordinary teddy bear strapped onto the front of the jeep from the Dinamic game Army Moves. He soon given a (thankfully abortive) comic strip in which he was an A-Team-style elite soldier on the run from the law. Kamikaze Bear eventually transmogrified into the SU tips columnist, writing in a pastiche Full Metal Jacket US Marines sergeant style. A (completely awful) cover tape game was even produced, called Go Bear Go.

Sinclair Simon

A very funny cartoon by Zak which ran from 1983-85 and, in terms of quality, was second only to Jetman. Sinclair Simon is a sad individual whose life revolves around the Sinclair computers. He is assisted by his dog Butch. (Butch seems to be considerably brighter than Simon, but then again, so would a plank by comparison.)

Sinclair Simon himself, of course, bears absolutely no resemblance to today's Sinclair fans...

(See also the Sinclair Simon Gallery)

Where are they now?

  • Tony Dillon, one of the SU reviewers, formed a company called 'Reflex Technologies' with Patrick Kelly and worked on a 'nice 3D car game' for a while. They then wrote the software that is currently running on the interactive units in the Leeds Royal Armories. The company went bust due to problems with payments for their game, (approx early 1997) and Tony was last heard of (August 97) going back to being a music journalist (his original career).
  • Andrew Hewson, of Helpline fame, continued running his company Hewson Consultants until it folded in 1992. He bounced back a year later with 21st Century Entertainment, famous chiefly for their series of pinball simulations (Pinball Dreams, Pinball Fantasies etc.)
  • Garth Sumpter, another SU writer, now writes for the movie magazine Neon.

Info by: Paul Jenkinson and Stephen Smith.

Articles from Sinclair User

(General news articles can be found in the Media File)


Sinclair User's editorial column, 1982-85

The Sinclair Simon Gallery

A complete collection of Sinclair Simon strips from Sinclair User, 1983-85.

Kamikaze Bear

Yuk. But here he is, anyway. Make up your own mind . . .

Feature articles

A number of feature articles from Sinclair User and the Sinclair User Annuals.