Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 11/08/2003He's back! Older, balder and smoother of chin, Uncle, later Sir, Clive Sinclair has been winkled out of hiding by some smart PR cookie and given a Segway electric trolley to play with.

Monday 11/08/2003
He's back! Older, balder and smoother of chin, Uncle, later Sir, Clive Sinclair has been winkled out of hiding by some smart PR cookie and given a Segway electric trolley to play with. This has had the predictable results of lots of footage of Uncle Clive whizzing around happily on the thing, followed by his well-tried modus operandi of shafting the competition while making vague but confident promises of better things to come. In this case, the Segway is dismissed, albeit respectfully, as a "toy": we can expect the real thing shortly, he says, with his C6.

This is so gloriously familiar that I feel sixteen again. Of course, there are no details of the C6. No development team has been announced, no schedule unveiled, no partners or plans revealed. There will be a C6 next year, and it will be better than sex. Sir Clive Sinclair has spoken, and now we wait.

Perhaps there are some reading this who don't remember the glory days of Sinclair Research, where new products were announced and put on sale with such alacrity the designers often hadn't actually finished them yet. Allow 28 days for delivery, the adverts said, never quite specifying which 28 days those might be. When the kit did arrive, it was often somewhat at variance with the promises -- bits sticking out of the back, parts missing, the software buggy and incomplete. The only thing that ever made serious money was the ZX81, which had the unusual merits of extreme simplicity: five chips, a smidgeon of software (not written by Sinclair) and nothing to go wrong (well, apart from the 16K RAM pack, but let's not get too steeped in boyhood nostalgia)...

If there really is a C6 -- and not just Clive making product plans on the hoof, another charming characteristic that made life so interesting for Sinclair executives -- then extreme scepticism is advised until rubber actually hits concrete. On the other hand, a world that seemed inclined to believe, before its unveiling, that the Segway was actually some sort of magical antigravity device may still be a fertile hunting-ground for his imagination. On the whole, I'm glad he's back.

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