Finally! The ROM You Wished Your Sinclair Spectrum Had!

If there is one thing that Sir Clive SInclair was famous for, it was producing electronic devices that somehow managed to squeeze near-impossible performance out of relatively meagre components. This gave us some impressive products, but it’s fair to say that sometimes this philosophy pushed the envelope a little too far. Thus even some of the most fondly remembered Sinclair products concealed significant flaws, and this extended to both their hardware and their software.

Sir Clive never gave us this!
Sir Clive never gave us this!

The SInclair ZX spectrum’s ROM for example had more than its fair share of bugs, and its BASIC programming experience with single keypress was unique but also slow to run. It’s something [Jonathan Cauldwell] has addressed with his Arcade Game Designer ROM, a complete and ready to run replacement for the original Spectrum ROM that contains a scripting language, a compiler, editors for in-game assets, and a game engine upon which to run your games. It’s the ROM you wanted back in 1983, when you were struggling to fit a bit of Z80 code in a Sinclair Basic REM statement.

If you’re a Spectrum enthusiast and think this sounds a little familiar then you are of course correct. It builds upon his past work with his Arcade Game Designer, with the distribution by ROM allowing the developer to use the full 48k available on all but a very few early 16k machines. You’ll need your own EPROM on which to burn it, but we suspect that if you’re the kind of person who has a Spectrum and has writing these games in mind, you already have access to the relevant equipment.

If you’re new to all this Spectrum stuff and where its ROM came from, then maybe it’s time for a trip down memory lane.

10 thoughts on “Finally! The ROM You Wished Your Sinclair Spectrum Had!

  1. Hmm, wonder if this is easily installable within a Spectrum Next…

    AGD is a popular 8-bit game maker on the Spectrum, and the CPC to a lesser extent, so anything to make it more accessible, and make full use of the system, is good.

      1. Yeah, me too. I think you’re right, should just be a case of putting it in the SD card.

        I programmed the original speccy back in the day. Looking forward to seeing what performance improvements I can squeeze out of the Next 2.

  2. I’ve tested the ROM with real ZX Spectrum hardware using my fairly new ZX ROM cartridge hardware, no issues. I put some pics on my Twitter: @QuazarSamCoupe

    I became fascinated with the failed ZX ROM cartridges from 1983/4 last year and over the last 12 months released a new ZX ROM Interface for the ZX Spectrum, that works on all models: 16k,48k,+,+2,+3,+2A/B and the new ZX Spectrum Next (On the next it plugs onto the edge connector as normal, but you do then have to select an option in the menu to tell it to use the ROM cartridge). To accompany it I’ve also released a programmable flash cartridge which stores 16 ZX ROM cartridge images or system ROMs such as the AGD ROM. I also produced an interface (ZX-ECUTOR) to allow the ZX ROM cartridges to run on the SAM Coupe computer.

  3. I don’t think so. One majhor fuckups with all those machines was exactly ROM. It took significant effor to develop FW, ROM was expensive and once issued, FW was set in stone, bugs and all.
    On top of that, no one really used that stuff.

    For ALL of their machines, Sinclair would be far better off if it just enlarged RAM on that account and had a miniscule ROM with just bootloader – in Spectrum’s case just enough to LOAD from cassete or run external ROM.

    In the end, this is what 99.99% users ever did. They used BASIC just to type famous LOAD “” – to load their game or whatever from cassete (and later microdrive).

    Spectrum could easily have 2 banks of those cheap half-burned 32kx1 (64kx1 with one bad bank).
    With just extra flip-flop or two and socketed chips, that same Spectrum 64K ( 2x 32K) could easily be expandable to 128K (= 2x 64K) and with pin compatible later RAMs 256kx1 even to 512KB !

    Not bad for cheap 8-bitter…

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