Sir Cliff Sinclair, who popularized the home computer and invented the pocket calculator, has died at the age of 81.
His daughter, Belinda Sinclair, told the Guardian that her father died at his London home on Thursday morning.
Ms Sinclair told the BBC that her father had had cancer for more than a decade and was still working on inventions until last week “because that’s what I love to do”.
“He was imaginative and imaginative and for him it was exciting and adventurous, it was his passion,” she added.
Sir Clive launched the first affordable consumer computer in 1980, costing less than £100.
The company of multi-millionaire billionaires launched the ZX models within a decade as the use of personal computers boomed.
Sinclair became the first company in the world to sell over a million computers, making Sir Clive a household name.
Speaking to The Guardian, his daughter said: “The ideas and challenge he found were exciting.
“He’d come up with an idea and say, ‘There’s no point in asking if someone wants it, because they can’t imagine it.'”
She added, “He was a pretty cool guy. Of course he was very smart and he was always interested in everything.
“My daughter and her husband are engineers so he was talking to them about engineering.”
A man of diverse interests, Sir Clive’s projects also saw him explore new technology in the worlds of television and automobiles.
One fateful initiative was the Sinclair C5, an electric tricycle that heralded the future of eco-friendly transportation but turned out to be an expensive failure.
However, pre-owned C5 models are currently for sale on eBay priced between £360 and £850.
Born in 1940, Sir Clive left school at the age of 17 and became a technical journalist writing specialist guidebooks.
At the age of 22, he founded Sinclair Radionics, his first company, manufacturing mail-order radio kits, including the world’s smallest transistor radio.
Later in his life, he created a pocket calculator and nicknamed it “The Wizard of Electronics”.
Other projects included expansions in digital clocks and the development of the world’s smallest television set.
With another company, Sinclair Research, Sir Clive found his successes in home computing while facing international competition.
Launched in 1981, the ZX 81 computer sold half a million and more powerful models followed.
Film director Edgar Wright praised Sir Clive’s computational achievements on Twitter.
He tweeted: “For someone whose first glimpses of a brave new world were the horrific 3D Monster Maze graphics on the ZX81, I’d like to salute technology pioneer Sir Cliff Sinclair.
“He made the dreams of the twenty-first century seem possible. He will strike in your honor with the rubber keys of the spectrum. RIP.”
Very sad to hear of the passing of Cliff Sinclair. This man changed the course of my life. It can be said that the digital age for us in the UK began with the Sinclair ZX80, when thousands of children learned to program using 1k of RAM. To us, the Spectrum was like a Rolls Royce with 48k. pic.twitter.com/Nf050wftsk
– Tom Watson (@tom_watson) September 16, 2021
Tom Watson, former deputy Labor leader, tweeted: “This man changed the course of my life.
“And arguably, the digital age for us in the UK began with the Sinclair ZX80, when thousands of kids learned to program with 1k of RAM. For us, the Spectrum was like a Rolls Royce with 48k.”
Sir Clive was knighted at a birthday party in 1983.
His daughter told the BBC he had been a devoted grandfather to her three children who had helped take care of him in recent years.
“Wannabe internet buff. Future teen idol. Hardcore zombie guru. Gamer. Avid creator. Entrepreneur. Bacon ninja.”