Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: 30th November 2005 | What's New? | What's Old? | Got Something to Add? | Credits

Welcome to the comp.sys.sinclair FAQ. If you have any difficulty finding the information you need, please contact us and we'll try to help. Several mirrors of the FAQ exist - please check the mirrors page for a current list. This FAQ is also available from the World of Spectrum and the versions page in formats suitable for offline viewing.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Frequently Provided Answers:

  • Can I post binary files to comp.sys.sinclair?
    No. Posting binary files is not permitted in comp.sys.sinclair. Many news providers will drop non-binary groups if binary files are posted regularly. If you need to share a binary file (graphics, emulator files, etc.) please post it to a web page and send a message to comp.sys.sinclair with a link, or post it to the alt.binaries.comp.sinclair newsgroup, which was established specifically to allow binary files to be exchanged (please read the alt.binaries.comp.sinclair FAQ before posting)

    Messages in HTML format are discouraged, and many people will miss your post unless it is in plain text. Most popular newsreaders can be configured to explicity send messages in plain text format if this is not their default behaviour.

  • Can I download games published by Ultimate, Codemasters, etc. ?
    No. Distribution of these titles, and those by some other publishers, is explicitly prohibited by the current copyright owners. You will not find these games available from any site (or published on compilation CDs) that cares about Sinclair emulation. The position on distribution of these titles is very clear: don't do it.

    During this revision, several sites previously listed in the FAQ, some emulators, and many new sites were identified that included denied software (or links to download it) These have been removed and will not be relisted or included under any circumstances until the links or titles are removed. Do not ask for them to be added; a list has been created and and is checked periodically - when the files have been removed or the distribution status of the titles available changes, these sites will be incorporated in the FAQ.

    If you are in any doubt about the status of a particular title, you can view a current list of 'approved' and 'denied' games at the World of Spectrum copyrights page.

  • I'm auctioning some Sinclair item(s). Can I post an announcement to comp.sys.sinclair?
    Yes. You may post a link to your auction page, or to the item listing directly. Note that some URLs may be very long, and are likely to wrap when viewed in some newsreaders. This may prevent some users from accessing your listing using the link you provide. Please consider enclosing the link to your item in '<' and '>' characters to prevent wrapping/splitting.

  • I have the game I want, but it's in the wrong format. How can I convert it?
    Dozens of different file formats exist, each offering different features and benefits. The file formats section of this FAQ explains these in some detail. For cassette images, the .tap and .tzx formats are generally considered to be the 'best' since they can be used to recreate the original tape, which can then be used on a real machine. Earlier formats are (generally) widely supported by emulators on all platforms and typically contain 'snapshots' of the system memory at a particular instant in time. These can usually only be used with emulators, however. There are a smaller number of Disk formats in common use, which are also described in the file formats section.

    You can convert files between formats using one of the many tape utilities. Most recent emulators support a wide variety of 'legacy' and 'preferred' tape and disk files. It is also possible to transfer certain types of file to a real ZX Spectrum. Details are available from the Program Transfer page at the World of Spectrum.

  • Which is the best Emulator for my system?
    Sinclair machines are amongst the most commonly emulated of all classic computers, with literally hundreds of emulators having been produced for just about every modern operating system. The emulators section of this FAQ provides detailed information about many of these, and is constantly being updated.

    The vast majority of emulators available are distributed as Freeware, and are readily available for you to try (see entries for links). You may want to spend some time with each emulator whose features match your requirements - there will almost certainly be several - before choosing the one you are most comfortable with. It is quite common to have several 'best' emulators on each platform, depending on the type of system you are trying to emulate.

  • I'm not sure how to get my emulator working - are there any tutorials available?
    If your emulator will not install, check the documentation for any specific requirements that may not be accommodated by your particular system. There are several alternative emulators available for each platform, so you may want to try another if you are unable to get one working easily.

    Once you are happy with your choice of emulator, and it seems to be working on your system, you will find the 'How to use a Spectrum Emulator' introductory guide, authored by Nick Aldridge, to be very helpful and informative. The 'basics' of emulation are clearly explained in an unpatronising way, and general advice is given on how some of the features of ZX Spectrum emulators work.

  • Where can I find ROM images for use with an emulator?
    Most emulators will include the ROM images required for them to run as part of the distribution package. On occasion, these may not be included, or may differ from the ones you prefer to use (several revisions of each ROM were often released). A comprehensive list of the ROMs available, and a description of each is available from The Spectrum ROMs Collection maintained by Philip Kendall.

    In addition to the standard ROM files, several enhanced versions have been developed that offer increased functionality, bug-fixes, new features, etc. A short list of these has been provided in the projects section of the links page.

    Important: Please read the statement from Cliff Lawson (Amstrad PLC) regarding the distribution and copyright status of the original system ROMs.

  • Where can I find instructions for.....?
    A large number of instruction manuals, technical references, etc. are available online for many original Sinclair products and peripherals. We have compiled a list of some of the most commonly requested information in the documentation section. You may find the information you are looking for there, or on one of the sites listed.

    The instruction manuals for many games and software titles are available from the World of Spectrum. Some instructions are not available yet - Philip Kendall is coordinating the Spectrum Instructions Project, which aims to make these available. Please read the SIP project page for more details, and to contribute.

  • Are any companies still producing software for the ZX Spectrum ?
    Yes. A small number of newly released titles are available from the vendors listed below. Please note that the following links are provided for your information only - we are not affiliated with these companies, and do not endorse them or their products.

    Software may be purchased from major auction sites, from several resellers or directly the original authors/distributors, including:

  • Whatever happened to.....?
    Several programmers and companies from the early days of Sinclair computing are still around and in business; some post messages to the comp.sys.sinclair newsgroup semi-regularly, and many have web sites of their own. A short list is provided on the Authors & Companies page, with a substantially more complete listing being available from the World of Spectrum.

    One of the main reasons to contact the authors and publishers of early titles is to get their permission to freely distribute their copyrighted work. WoS has a policy, strongly enforced, of only distributing those titles where the copyright owners have not objected to their work being made freely available. This is an ongoing project, which we encourage you to support.

  • Where can I buy a Sinclair or ZX Spectrum T-Shirt?
    This is a common question. Several companies can provide Sinclair-related T-Shirts, featuring popular games, characters, screen images, logos, etc. Please note that the following links are provided for your information only - we are not affiliated with these companies, and do not endorse them or their products.

  • What peripherals are available for the ZX Spectrum?
    A list of the most common peripherals produced for the ZX Spectrum (and others) is included in the peripherals section. Details of the disk interfaces produced for the ZX Spectrum are listed on the disk reference page. A number of more recent development projects, upgrades and expansions are also documented on the links page.

  • I have a Sinclair computer and it's broken. Can it be repaired?
    Very probably. It is possible to buy spare parts from several companies, and most of the Service Manuals or documentation you will need to complete repairs yourself are available online - the most common are listed in the documentation section of this FAQ. Some companies also offer a repair service for those that would prefer to have their machine serviced by someone else. See the spares section for details.

  • Where can I buy accessories or media for my Sinclair computer?
    Several vendors exist and may be able to help you find what you're looking for. Naturally, most of the items you will find available are used, and there may not always be large quantities available. For this reason, we suggest you check with the companies listed in the spares section of this FAQ on a regular basis. These companies are operated by enthusiasts, have a good reputation among Sinclair users, and actively support the community.

    Occasionally, you will find messages in comp.sys.sinclair offering items for sale, or announcing the availability of spare parts (drive belts, keyboard membranes, etc.) so it is worth posting a message there stating your needs.

  • Isn't emulating all these old machines a bit pointless?
    No. The Sinclair community is very active, and many new developments are still underway. For many people, the ability to re-discover their computing 'roots' is very valuable. It's a harmless pastime, which can be very rewarding on different levels. The challenge of writing an emulator, completing a game, reading a ROM, solving a 20 year old problem, or pushing (admittedly) limited resources to their limit is a fascinating hobby.

  • I've found a mistake in the FAQ. How do I correct it?
    We need to know about it! Please use the link at the bottom of each page to contact us and include as much information as possible. We'll need to know the page and entry that contains the error, a description of the section that is wrong, and the correction you feel should be made. Errors are corrected as they are reported, and will be published with the next revision. If the error is serious, this may be immediately. Unless you ask us not to, you will be credited for your submission, and your e-Mail address will be included.

    All e-Mail addresses in this FAQ have '.remove.this' added in an attempt to prevent unsolicited messages being sent.

  • There's something missing from the FAQ that used to be in it. Why?
    All of the entries in the previous version of this FAQ were reviewed, checked and updated where necessary as part of this revision. Some entries have been removed completely (where the resource no longer exists, for example) and some have been archived for later removal.

    The purpose of this is to allow the FAQ to be more focussed on the areas and information of value to you, to improve the accuracy of all entries, and to reduce the overall maintenance requirements of the FAQ. By keeping the FAQ 'tight', it can be more readily expanded and maintained during future revisions.

    Archived entries retain their validity, but will not be maintained in future unless users of the FAQ feel they are relevant or can improve the listing. Items in the archive are in 'review' status for two subsequent revisions, giving ample opportunity for new or updated entries to be provided, objections raised, etc.