The Evolution of Spectrum 128 logo design

There’s a widely spread belief that the first Spectrum 128 machines were made in Spain by Investronica and can be recognised by a white 128K logo.
In fact it was Sinclair who commissioned Samsung firm, based in Korea, to manufacture first Spectrum 128 computers which were then distributed by Investronica in Spain.

 

The first idea of 128K logo design begun in the UK and was implemented on a Spectrum case which didn’t have raised 128K lettering embossed in the corner of the case but instead the logo was printed in white paint on a flat surface.

Flat White UK 128K Logo

Origins of 128K logo

 

 

Once the design has been established, the tooling has been changed and the raised white 128K lettering was permanently added to the mould. Although a number of such cases have been produced they were never officially marketed, as the design has undergone several changes before being finalised. Some of these ended up being used in early UK Toastrack development machines and other leftovers, without the famed heatsink attached to the right-hand side, were later mixed with 3rd party cases and sold as part of the Spectrum 48K+ upgrade kit

White UK 128K logo

128K logo during design development for UK Spectrum 128

 

 

Based on this sample Samsung have recreated a similar looking machine which we now recognise as Spanish Spectrum 128. The white 128K logo, although raised, has thinner lettering than the 128K logo on UK made cases. In addition to a different logo design, Samsung have also produced their own version of rainbow badges, in 2 different colour shades.

White Spanish 128K logo

Spanish 128K logo

 

When Spectrums 128 for the UK market were being manufactured, the design has been once again modified which distinguished them from their predecessors. And so this is the finalised version we all know –  red paint covering the SINCLAIR and the 128K logo, which remained unchanged throughout different motherboard revisions.

Red UK 128K Logo

Final design of UK 128K logo

Version 6K

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I might have made some things up
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Spectrum 128 Numeric Keypad: Spanish VS English Version

I recently got hold of an English version of the numeric keypad for Spectrum 128 and was curious to check how it compares to the Spanish version of the keypad. If you’re new to this and require introduction to the numeric keypad, look here.

Anyone who has ever owned or has seen the Spanish version of the Spectrum 128 will have no doubt noticed the resemblance to Spectrum 48K+ made by Samsung in Korea. It is possible that both models use parts that have been manufactured at the same Korean factory (as opposed to an average UK Spectrum 128 which outer appearance looks closer to a Spectrum 48K+ made in a UK factory).
It is no different with the two versions of numeric keypads.

The photos of the two keypads side by side show the differences in both units proving two entirely different moulds have been made for each type. What’s more, my own gut instinct tells me the English version has been manufactured first and the Spanish one has later been designed to match its look and functionality.

The only components of the keypads that I found looked similar in both cases were the keys and the curly cord.

While the legend on some of the keys are printed in 2 different languages, the shape of the keys and the font of the text remain identical. The printing of “SHIFT” on this particular unit looks a bit rough as if someone went with a white pen marker over it.

 

As the case with any Samsung-made Spectrum (48K/ 48K+/128K+), the SINCLAIR logo is styled differently to the original.

 

Another most noticeable difference can be observed looking at the bottom of the keypads.
The feet on the Spanish keypad are made of hard rubber, while the English keypad features feet made of foam material – very similar to that found on the bottom of Spectrum+ legs.

Also notice different type/size of screws used and the way the screw holes have been shaped.

The reverse of the bottom plates show further variations in the plastic used to make the case as well as the different moulding style.

Mottled vs. smooth reflective surface finish

 

Below is the view that welcomes you as you remove the back cover.

I was expecting to find one of those poor quality Sinclair membranes that due to age and heat have a tendency to crack or malfunction. Luckily the membrane used in the English keypad is very different to the typical Sinclair one. I don’t know of its origins at present but the membrane is of high quality and very similar to the Samsung-made one in that respect.

Membranes by this manufacturer also occasionally appear in rubber-keyed Spectrums, which is the only type of original membrane (apart from a Samsung one) that doesn’t need replacing.

I am yet to find this type of membrane in any of the Spectrum+ models. Having not come across such this far suggests these membranes have only been designed for rubber-keyed model (and the English keypad).
(Ed. Except now you have hexed it and will inevitably find one of them in a Spectrum+ in the coming days.)

 

Samsung membranes (left) are easily recognizable by the line of text present on the bottom of the keypad membrane (or top if on Spectrum 48K/48K+ membrane). Notice the Samsung membrane is overall more transparent.

Have you spotted something odd?

 

 

Yellow vs. Semi-transparent rubber mat

 

 

 

These are all the electronic parts found inside the keypad.


If you’re acquainted with Samsung-made motherboards, you will recognise the distinct green colour of the motherboard and dark blue colour of the capacitor. The chip present on the beige board (which incidentally isn’t a pcb material I have ever seen in any Spectrum!) is dated year 1985, week 32 whereas the chip on the green board dates 2 weeks later.
Notice the lack of silkscreen markings on the beige board and different components and their layout.

Reverse side of the PCB

Below you can play “Spot the Differences”.
Some are more obvious and some rather subtle.
Have fun!

 

 

One of the mysteries is the shape of the long white keyposts inside the English keypad. 

Compared to the black keypost, it’s missing bits of plastic in some places which, when translated into functionality, results in the key not having enough grip and support and therefore often falling out or being pushed down unevenly. It’s even more of a mystery as white posts found in Spectrums+ keyboards don’t lack any plastic bits.
Cost cutting, Sinclair?

 

Shiny reflective vs. matte and mottled surface to the keypost props

 

Last example of the differences between keypad case moulds present themselves in the shaping of the arch enabling the cord to enter the case:

 

And now I have to put it all back together….

 

Amstrad’s Spectrum 128K+

This is a Toastrack, Sinclair’s last computer. Loved by all… Almost.

It runs 128K programs, has a nice sounding AY chip and features a whopping great heatsink on the side which gets pleasantly warm (very useful in winter).

It’s also the most desirable of all Spectrums and although it was only in production for about a year it’s not massively rare.

This particular Spectrum was made by Amstrad (see the AMSTRAD ULA) shortly after they’ve bought out the company.

 

This individual has a bit of a character. One of the RAM chips hasn’t been factory soldered on properly, but is still making a good connection.
It looks like it’s getting up and trying to walk away.