Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Sinclair, Clive Marles
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English electronics engineer and entrepreneur, who invented the pocket calculator, the miniature television set, and the ZX80 computer (the precursor of modern PCs) for a mass market. He is perhaps best known for his attempted solution to the UK's traffic congestion – his innovative, but commercially disastrous, Sinclair C5 (which, as a three-wheeled electric car powered by a washing machine motor, was a new concept in personal transport).

Sinclair launched his company, Sinclair Radionics, in 1961, and developed the first pocket television and a number of pocket calculators. He founded Sinclair Research in 1980 and launched the world's first home computer, the ZX80 (which became a market leader in home computer games during the following decade). The launch of the Sinclair C5 in 1985, which was widely condemned as unsafe and impractical, almost ruined him (costing £7 million), and he sold out to Amstrad's Alan Sugar in 1986. He received a knighthood for his achievements in 1983.

Educated at St George's College, Weybridge, Sinclair left school in 1958 to work as an editor of Practical Wireless for Bernards technical publishers. Three years later he launched his electronics and manufacturing company, Sinclair Radionics, which developed and marketed the first pocket TV (the Microvision in 1966) and a series of multi-function pocket calculators – the Sinclair Executor (1972), the Cambridge Calculator (1973), and the Scientific Calculator (1974). Following the launch of his digital watch in 1976, the National Enterprise Board (NEB) took a 43% stake in the company worth £650,000. However, by 1979, the company had failed with losses of £2 million.

Sinclair has continued to develop electrically powered forms of transport. His other interests include music, poetry, and poker.


Sinclair, Clive Marles

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.