Timex-Sinclair 1000

Although I alluded to this earlier, I haven’t gone into detail about one of my other relatively recent acquisitions, a Timex-Sinclair 1000. I got it in the original packaging, although the box is kind of beat up.

Ts1000 box

Revolutionary technology made this computer possible, and the power is within my reach.

Ts1000 box back

The Timex-Sinclair 1000 was marketed as a cheap ($99.95) computer that was accessible to everyone. It’s a tiny little thing, with a membrane keyboard and 2K of memory.

Ts1000 in box

Ts1000 by ipad

The 2K of memory it has built-in can be expanded with the help of a 16K memory pack that you plug into the back. I have this, and actually, it’s pretty much standard equipment with these (though of course buying one took the price well beyond the $99.95 price point).

Ts1016 top

Ts1016 side

It has no disk drive. The only way data gets in and out of this machine is through a cassette recorder. Here are the tapes I got with it.

Ts1000 tapes

But the thing that has stymied me until now from even trying the machine out is that the only way it can display (without doing internal modifications) is through a TV. That was fine back in its day, but now I’d much rather have had a regular composite out. The problem with the signal it sends out is that it is tuned to channel 2 or 3, and so I need a way to find that signal and turn it back into something viewable.

I thought I had a solution with the Power Mac G3 and a set-top DVD recorder. Now that I have the rest of it set up, I tried plugging in the Timex-Sinclair for the first time. First, I set up the DVD recorder to send its output (for now, just the composite video out, though I might later move to S-video instead) into the Wings card at the back of the Power Mac G3. I converted the Timex-Sinclair’s RCA output to a coaxial cable and sent it in the antenna input on the DVD recorder.

Ts1000 into dvdr

I verified that the Power Mac G3 was getting the signal from the DVD recorder by successfully bringing up an image of the DVD menu.

Pmg3 dvdr menu

But, alas, when I tuned the TV to channel 3 (which the Timex-Sinclair was set to) and connected the power to the computer, the best I could get was this noise—and most of the time the screen was just blank.

Pmg3 ts1000 fail

I don’t yet know what this means. It might be that my Timex-Sinclair 1000 actually doesn’t work, which would be sad. But I’m more inclined right now to believe that the video signal just isn’t strong enough to make it through. I still need to test it on a real television (and, in fact, maybe preferably a vintage television) to see if it might work without the signal gating that the DVD recorder and the Wings card are both probably doing. I was kind of hoping I’d be able at least to get to the main prompt, but as far as I can see (and the operative word is “see”), I haven’t. So it goes. I’ll keep trying.

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