Timex Sinclair 2068

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The Timex Sinclair 2068 (TS2068), released in November 1983, was Timex Sinclair's fourth and last home computer for the U.S. market. It derived from the 48K ZX Spectrum, and followed Timex's ZX81-based TS1000 and TS1500, and the Spectrum-based TS2048.

The TS2048 was essentially a 48K Spectrum with improved graphics modes – see below – and an integrated Kempston joystick interface.

The TS2068 was a more sophisticated beast, significantly changed from its UK ancestor. Arguably one of the first Sinclair clones to significantly improve on the original design, it added a number of new features:

  • an AY-3-8912 sound chip, as later used by Sinclair in the ZX Spectrum 128 (but mapped to different I/O ports and thus incompatible)
  • twin joystick ports
  • a slightly better "chiclet keyboard" with plastic keycaps
  • a cartridge port to the right of the keyboard for ROM-based software
  • an improved ULA offering additional screen modes:
    • The standard Sinclair 256×192 mode with a colour resolution of 32×24
    • An "extended colour mode", 256×192 pixels with colour resolution of 32×192
    • A monochrome 512×192 mode

Sinclair BASIC was extended with new keywords (STICK, SOUND) to address the new hardware and the machine offered bank-switched memory, allowing ROM cartridges to be mapped in.

However, these changes made the machine incompatible with most Spectrum machine-code software, which is to say virtually all commercial titles; less than 10% would run successfully.

Although Timex Computer folded in 1984, the independent Portuguese division continued to sell the machines in Portugal and Poland until 1989.

Since the TS2068 "fixed" the Spectrum's four main weaknesses compared to its 8-bit contemporary rivals – poor graphics and sound, the "dead flesh" keyboard and absence of joystick ports – it is perhaps regrettable that Sinclair did not adopt the machine, modify it for greater compatibility and sell it as an enhanced Spectrum in its home market. It was a considerable improvement over the Spectrum+, which it preceded by a year, and in many respects over the Spectrum 128, which although announced in May 1985 did not appear until February 1986.

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