Help & Information

The comp.sys.sinclair FAQ has evolved over time to become the accepted reference point for virtually any topic related to the use or emulation of many products produced by Sinclair Research, and several others, during the 1980s. If you can't find the answer to your question within the collection of documents that make up the FAQ, we're doing something wrong, and we need to hear from you!

The FAQ belongs to the users - if there is something you'd like to see added, removed, corrected or re-done, please contact us and let us know. We'll work with you to make sure you are happy with the FAQ, and that your requests and suggestions are accommodated if at all possible. Note, that the FAQ is not a playground for pet projects and special-interest groups to take advantage of; any content should be of value to the wider community, and really should be an answer to a 'Frequently Asked Question' In short, that a product, emulator or website simply exists does not automatically qualify it for inclusion!

Not everything in the FAQ will be of interest to you, and some things will always be incomplete no matter how hard anyone tries, but you should be able to get a good 'feel' for the topic you are interested in, and will hopefully find something of value in every section. Wherever possible, we have included links to additional information from external sources that you can follow to help fill in the 'blanks' that will enevitably (and necessarily, in the interests of brevity) remain after reading the FAQ.

With this revision, and after very careful consideration, the FAQ has been completely overhauled, updated and the entries validated for accuracy. Several old sections are gone, and several new ones added. A substantial amount of 'pruning' has taken place in an attempt to refine the FAQ, focus the areas covered, and increase both the breadth and depth of the topics discussed.

The members of the comp.sys.sinclair newsgroup, and the World of Spectrum forums were 'polled' in an attempt to identify which areas of the FAQ were considered weak, which were complete as-was, and which areas were not covered that should be. The results were very positive, and were of primary consideration throughout the development of this release. The overall structure is similar to previous versions; this is both to aid in the transition from the old to new design, and because they simply worked very well.

The sections most noticeably impacted by the redesign are:

  • Emulators:
    Previous versions of this FAQ contained entries for virtually every emulator available for almost every platfom. This list was enormous, and would have become almost impossible to maintain with accuracy in future if left to expand indefinately. Similarly, many emulators have become overshadowed by more recent products, have been abandoned by their authors, or simply offer few, if any, distinctive features. The criteria used when evaluating emulators to be included with this release were not arbitrary:

    • Perceived popularity:
      Based largely on the number of times a particular emulator was downloaded from the World of Spectrum. Not an exact measurement, but a respectable guide as to which emulators draw the most interest. In addition, the relative frequency of discussions/questions about a particular emulator was evaluated, using the WoS forums and comp.sys.sinclair as sources.

    • Development and Maintenance activity:
      Many emulators previously listed appear to have reached maturity and are no longer being actively developed or maintained by the original author. In many cases, they have been abandoned completely. Similarly, dozens of new emulators have been written and released since previous versions of this FAQ were published.

    • 'Uniqueness':
      Most emulators emulate most systems, support a similar range of file formats, and generally do the same 'stuff'. Rather than repetitively listing the same features for every emulator simply because it exists does not provide value, and does not assist in making an educated decision about which ones to try. By considering the range of emulated systems and peripherals, the variety of formats supported and the feature sets available, it is possible to weed-out the 'spares' and focus attention on adequetly describing and documenting the features of those that genuinely stand out from the crowd.

    • Instinct & Judgement:
      It is impossible to evaluate every emulator fully. Those listed have proven to be popular with real users, are well documented (an important factor), are supported by their authors and/or members of the comp.sys.sinclair newsgroup and WoS forums. Trimming the list is a necessity for the continued improvement and accuracy of the list in future. And the sanity of the maintainer.

    It is important to uderstand that a combination of these criteria was used, not any one alone. This allows emulators that have not been developed or maintained for several years, but are very popular based on regularity of download/discussion, etc. to be compared fairly against those which are currently in development and are therefore more likely to be under regular revision or maintenance. Similarly, if an emulator offers a 'unique' feature, this counts in its favour.

    Naturally, these criteria cannot be applied to all emulators for all platforms - in the interests of fairness, if the platform has a limited number of emulators available, the likelihood of them being frequently discussed is somewhat less than with other systems, and the selection process has been more 'forgiving' in these cases.

  • File Formats:
    For similar reasons to those given in the Emulators section, the list of File Formats has been reduced. Those formats which have been removed with this revision are those that:

    • Are overtly emulator-specific, or not in common use.
    • Are exceptionally well documented by their developers, with documentation being included with the emulator.
    • Are used almost exclusively by emulators removed from the FAQ during this revision.

As mentioned previously, the overall navigation structure and layout of the FAQ is the same as before. There have been several small changes to the location of certain entries; this restructuring will continue through the first few revisions as additional content areas are identified, and those already established become more complete. For this reason, please bear in mind that while the 'fixed' structure already introduced will remain, certain entries will move between locations during subsequent revisions. You should familiarise yourself with the site structure described below, and can refer to this page at any time for a review. Should any significant movement of entries take place during future revisions, they will be listed here.