I was lucky enough to be in the right place (a Facebook Retrogame sales group) at the right time recently, and sae an ad go up for a Sinclair ZX81. This particular ZX81 had been composite modded for a cleaner more compatible video output and also had all new capacitors. It was, as my wife would say, a bargain, so I bought it before anyone else could.

A few days later a nice package turned up containing my new piece of old computing history. I disappeared to the gaming room and plugged it in. It worked and had a beautiful picture, it even worked with my old 16k ram pack, lovely jubbly.

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As you can hopefully see from the picture it is in excellent condition.  So after pulling out my ZX81 software library (about ten cassettes) I started loading from my cassette deck, mostly unsuccessfully. Eventually a Defender clone by Quicksilva called Defenda (I bet Williams never even realised it was a copy after that ingenious name change) loaded up. Unfortunately the screen rolled during gameplay. The seller was extremely helpful, although we both knew it wasn’t a fault in the machine so much as a tv incompatibility.

In the meantime I bought a composite to HDMI video upscaler, how better to try it than with the ZX81?

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So today as soon as the wife was out I set up the ZX81, Upscaler, and cassette player near enough to our hd tv in our bedroom to try both out. The upscaler needs power from a USB lead which luckily plugged into my nearby pc. Once it was all connected and powered up the screen flashed black, Blue then the familiar White with an inverse black K cursor appeared showing it was all working together somehow.

Defenda loaded, the screen flashed again, and the black and White game filled the hd screen. A few games of this old classic proved that I have lost what little skill I had at this game. Here is a quick video of the gameplay, the player sprite on the left doesn’t move as I was holding my tablet camera to the screen 🙂