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.

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?

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 🙂

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