Clive Sinclair, the British entrepreneur whose tiny and inexpensive gadgets pioneered a computing revolution in the UK and beyond, is dead at 81. [The Guardian. ↬ Joel Johnson]
His daughter, Belinda, said he died at home in London on Thursday morning after a long illness. Sinclair invented the pocket calculator but was best known for popularising the home computer, bringing it to British high-street stores at relatively affordable prices. Belinda Sinclair, 57, told the Guardian: "He was a rather amazing person. Of course, he was so clever and he was always interested in everything. My daughter and her husband are engineers so he'd be chatting engineering with them."
Sinclair's legendary success was in envisaging the perfect tools for business travelers and the perfect computers for families, then making them with extraordinary economy. My first computer was a ZX Spectrum, which blew my young mind and still maintains a faithful following now. (Mine had to be replaced several times before my parents gave up and got a refund and a rival model, which gets us to Sinclair's equally legendary failure: quality control)
Sinclair's other famous success was a fold-up bicycle, and his most famous flop was an electric trike, the C5. All the above embodied a restless "minimum viable product" approach, inspiring in its own way. We might not have liked what he shipped, and indeed it might not even have worked at all, but he sure shipped it.