ZX Spectrum line

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Sinclair ZX Spectrum
Sinclair spectrum.jpg
Developer Sinclair Research
Type Computers
Release date 1982
Discontinued 1992
Predecessor ZX81
Successor QL
For emulators that run on the ZX Spectrum, see Emulators on ZX Spectrum.

The ZX Spectrum (Pronounced ZED-ex) is an 8-bit home computing platform developed by Sinclair in 1982. It was one of the three major 8-bit home computer platforms that dominated the market in the United Kingdom during the 1980s, alongside the Commodore 64 and the Amstrad Colour Personal Computer. The "Spectrum" is in reference to its color display, an innovation from the previous model, the ZX81. The Spectrum was released as eight different models, ranging from the entry-level model with 16 KiB RAM released in 1982 to the ZX Spectrum +3 with 128 KiB RAM and built-in floppy disk drive in 1987; together they sold in excess of 5 million units worldwide, not accounting for the numerous clones. The device was highly significant in British culture, so much so that its creator, Clive Sinclair, was knighted for services to the British industry, in 1983. Spectrum game development continues to this day, with over 100 new releases since 2012.


An old list of emulators can be found here.

Name Platform(s) Latest Version libretro FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
EightyOne (81) Windows 1.40 ~ (WIP)
FUSE Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD AmigaOS MorphOS
Speccy Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 5.9
ZEsarUX Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD UNIX 11.0
SpecEmu Windows 3.4 ?
Swan Windows Linux macOS 0.9.6 ? ? ?
BizHawk Windows 2.9.1 ~
Retro Virtual Machine Windows Linux macOS 2.1.9 ~
CLK Linux macOS FreeBSD 2024-06-03 TBD
ares Windows Linux macOS v139 TBD
ZX-Poly Windows Linux macOS 2.3.3 TBD
EMU (Russian) Windows 1.01
Xpeccy Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.6.20240621
DSP Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD git
fbzx Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD git
JSpeccy Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD git
MAME Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.267
Spectaculator Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 8.0
UnrealSpeccyP Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD Web git
ZX4ALL Windows Linux macOS Beta 2
X128 MS-DOS 0.94
(aka 'MulTiMachine')
Windows 1.30b ?
#CSpect Windows ?
LnxSpectrum Windows 1.9.0 ?
ZXSEC Windows 20240422 ? TBD
Spud Windows v0.307 TBD
Mobile / ARM
Speccy Android 5.9.4
Spectacol Android
Spectaculator Android iOS 7.0 (iOS)
2.1.1 (Android)
UnrealSpeccyP Android iOS Linux Dingoo
FUSE PlayStation 3 PSP Vita GameCube Wii Wii USwitch Nintendo 3DS v0.10.02 Alpha 1 ?
PSPectrum PSP 1.0.4
ZXDS Nintendo DS 1.4.0
GoldenEye 007 Nintendo 64 Patch
FBZX Wii Wii v10 ?
Foon GameBoy Advance 0.22 ~
Very old, Broken and Unused Emulator
Dreamcast PlayStation 2 Xbox Various ? TBD
ZX4ALL Dreamcast Beta 2 ? TBD
UnrealSpeccyP PSP 0.0.62


ZX Spectrum 16K[edit]

The ZX Spectrum 16K was released on April 28, 1982, for £99. It had a Zilog Z80A at 3.5 MHz with 16KB of RAM.

ZX Spectrum 48K[edit]

The ZX Spectrum 48K was released the same time as the 16K was and retailed for £125 with 48K of RAM.

ZX Spectrum+[edit]

The ZX Spectrum+ was released in October of '84 and retailed for £179.95. It had a mechanical keyboard and a new case. its technical specifications are the same as the 48K.

ZX Spectrum 128[edit]

The ZX Spectrum 128 had 128KB of RAM, MIDI, and an external keypad. This machine actually launched in Spain first because, in the UK, there were still so many unsold ZX Spectrum machines that they decided to wait.

ZX Spectrum+2[edit]

The ZX Spectrum+2 is the first ZX Spectrum to be made under Amstrad after they purchased the Sinclair brand. It had a tape deck built in.

ZX Spectrum+2A[edit]

The ZX Spectrum+2A was released in 1987 and is a varient of the later ZX Spectrum 3 which didn't have the floppy drive.

ZX Spectrum+3[edit]

The ZX Spectrum+3 was released in 1987 and had a built-in floppy drive with 128K of RAM. It retailed for £249.

ZX Spectrum+2B[edit]

The ZX Spectrum+2B fixed some audio clipping issues and it can't be upgraded to a floppy disk drive.

ZX Spectrum+3B[edit]

The ZX Spectrum+3B fixed some audio clipping issues and it cannot have a tape drive.

External links[edit]

  • Zophar's Domain (Huge, heady chart showing download links and info of many old ZX / Spectrum / QL Series emulators)
  • ZXPlanet (Emulators page with links to detailed reviews of many old ZX Spectrum emulators)
  • Retro Isle (Page showing three old emulators for ZX Spectrum)
  • ConsoleRoms (Page showing a couple other emulators)