Gorgeous 1980s ZX Spectrum manual

I miss the 80s, when computing manuals were illustrated with things far removed from home computing. I found this amongst my pop’s old computing books.


Nowadays off-the-shelf programming software tends to be designed for a specific purpose, and I like to think that the artist here was trying to capture the infinite possibilties that lay ahead at the dawn of home computing, but perhaps I’m just being sentimental.

Wait, there’s more!


  1. #1 Gold
    July 25, 2011

    I remember owning that one. 🙂

  2. #2 Chris
    July 26, 2011

    This was my first programming manual.

    Thank you so much for posting it! Very fond memories of it, and of my father who gave it to me.

  3. #3 tahrey
    August 1, 2011

    Sinclair just seemed to have much more sense of style than the other manufacturers of the time, I think. Apple themselves were making some godawful ugly machines, IBM no better, and the best you could say about Commodore/Atari was that their later stuff was fairly inoffensive, but even the lowly ZX80 was a nice looking computer, and the original 16k Spectrum would’ve made Jobs proud.

    This obviously extends to their manuals as well 🙂

    The only other thing I could personally compare it to would be a “Unix for Beginners” book that was on my own dad’s shelf, which was illustrated by a simple picture of a bisected Nautilus shell… in the same warm yellow and orange shades.

    Aside from that we had the a book of BBC Micro BASIC games (brown cover with a highly optimistic – though still pixilated/primary coloured! – artist’s rendering of the graphics of one of them), a trio of fairly heavyweight 3rd party programmer’s guides for the Atari ST which came with said machine when we bought it second hand (flat grey with fairly simple, literal illustrations on the front, e.g. a couple of isometrically drafted monitors with “BASIC” and “C” on for … “moving from ST BASIC to C”), and the official manuals for the same machine (purely functional, with a photograph of it).

  4. #4 Pete Morris
    September 28, 2011

    Yes absolutely. I remember being a kid and having this immense feeling of possibility when I looked at that cover, like you could get the good old Speccy to do anything! Good times, for sure!

  5. #5 Barry Livingstone
    January 26, 2012

    First time I’ve ever seen this picture, pretty cool though! Like Pete said, I can see how this could capture the imagination as a child.

    I remember the ZX Spectrum computer well but I didn’t own one. I had an Amstrad 464plus (can’t believe I still remember the model number)

    My friend owned the ZX Spectrum and I had the Amstrad, we would argue all the time as kids on which one was the better computer. Mind you, I don’t miss waiting for like an hour on a game loading.

    Ha, there’s a page on Wikipedia about the old Amstrad –

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