In the U.K., the iconic 8-bit home computer of the 1980s was the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Few keyboards have surely been pounded as hard as the Spectrum’s rubberised complement of grey rectangles.
Released in 1982, the 48K computer-in-a-keyboard was last produced in 1990. But if this Kickstarter campaign (from veteran Spectrum games dev Elite) hits its funding target then the ZX Spectrum will be reborn as a Bluetooth keyboard for iOS, initially, with plans to add support for Android, Windows Phone, PCs and Macs down the line.
Elite is seeking £60,000 (~$99,000) in crowdfunding to fund production of the first 1,000 units and bring the Spectrum back to life. The Bluetooth ZX Spectrum will be able to be used, not so much as a tough-to-type-on Bluetooth keyboard, but to recreate that authentic rubbery Spectrum gaming experience in conjunction with future app releases from Elite that will be available to buy from the iTunes App Store (and later from Google Play, Amazon’s App Store and Microsoft’s Windows Store).
The Bluetooth ZX Spectrum keyboard will also be backwards compatible with Elite’s existing ZX Spectrum: Elite Collection apps — which feature Spectrum gaming classics such as Jet Set Willy, Manic Miner, Cybernoid, Monty on The Run and Skool Daze (to name a few). The apps will be sold separately to the keyboard — which is being priced at £50 to early Kickstarter backers (which includes Elite app credit and delivery in the U.K.).
The Bluetooth ZX Spectrum keyboard may also work with some third party apps — so you could use it for other keyboardy functions, albeit the form factor was never designed for speedy touch-typing — but Elite notes that compatibility cannot be guaranteed.
Elite is licensing the ZX Spectrum trademark and has been granted the right to replicate the Spectrum’s form factor — and says it’s the only company that has been granted that right from the IP holder.
Nostalgia fans should direct their clicks to Elite’s Kickstarter page. The company has raised £17,000 of its £60k target so far — from more than 280 backers, and with 28 days left to run on the campaign. If successful they are aiming to ship the Bluetooth ZX Spectrum keyboard to backers next September.