One of the surprise items on display at a local museum which will surprise computing fanatics is that an original ZX 81 computer is one of the exhibit items.

The much loved computer features in a technology theme at North Ayrshire Heritage Centre in Saltcoats.

North Ayrshire Heritage and Cultural Services recently had this ZX81 computer donated and has brought back a huge amount of nostalgia.

The ZX81 is a home computer that was produced by Sinclair Research and manufactured in Dundee by the Timex Corporation.

It was launched in the UK in March 1981 as the successor to Sinclair's ZX80 and designed to be a low-cost introduction to home computing for the general public.

It was hugely successful; more than 1.5 million units were sold.

The ZX81 was designed to be small, simple, and above all, inexpensive, with as few components as possible.

Video output was to a TV set rather than a dedicated monitor. Programs and data were loaded and saved onto compact audio cassettes. It used only four silicon chips, and a mere 1KB of memory.

The ZX81 marked the point when computing in Britain became an activity for the general public, rather than the preserve of businessmen and electronics hobbyists.

It produced a huge community of enthusiasts, some of whom founded their own businesses producing software and hardware for the ZX81.

The ZX81's commercial success made Sinclair Research one of Britain's leading computer manufacturers and earned a fortune and an eventual knighthood for the company's founder Sir Clive Sinclair.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

A museum spokesperson said: "We've recently had this Spectrum ZX81 computer donated and it's bringing a whole load of memories back for our team.

"This is a new acquisition, so it ticks all the boxes for our current display at the Heritage Centre."

The North Ayrshire Heritage Centre is open from Monday to Wednesday, and the last Saturday of each month, from 9.30am-1pm and 2-4.30pm on each of those days.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald:

It also brings back memories of one of Clive Sinclair's other inventions - the C5 cars which were made available in the mid-1980s.

Ten Sinclair C5 electric vehicles were introduced to Cumbrae by Tony McCallum of the Westbourne Hotel and were proving popular with bookings sold out in advance.