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Great Briton and amateur poker player Sir Clive Sinclair dies aged 81 17/097/21
The Editor
• Sir Clive Sinclair who changed the world of home computing passes away, 16th September 2021

One of the great pioneering britons of the 20th Century, Sir Clive Marles Sinclair, has died at the age of 81. During the second half of his life Clive enjoyed weekly games of poker, often held at private homes or clubs. In the 1990s he began competing in Texas Hold'em events in casinos in the UK and then when TV poker arrived on channel 4 he could be seen on screen competing with some of the best.

The first of the channel 4 TV poker shows, and the most famous, Late Night Poker, ran for 10 regular series from 1999 until 2011. Clive appeared in episode 1 of season 3, airing on 19th October 2000 in a heat with Ross Boatman and Dave Ulliott, but Clive and the two famous players were all knocked out, defeated by the heat winner Paul Alterman. Series winner was Phil Hellmuth.

A spin-off series from LNP was released on the Challenge TV channel called Celebrity Poker Club and ran for 3 series between 2003 and 2005. The final of the first series took place on 13th November 2003 and Clive faced actor Keith Allen, author Cindy Blake, racing commentator John McCririck, 7 times world snooker champion Stephen Hendry, cricketer Gladstone Small, politician Zac Goldsmith and former professional footballer Tony Cascarino. Clive was victorius and picked up his lifetime best prize of £25,000. Keith Allen finished second.

Friends and family new Clive as a generous man who was always interested in anything new in the world of technology and always had time for a conversation with those he knew and trusted.

Friend and poker player Richard Whitehouse who participated in the famous “Sunday Game” with Clive for 20 years said, “he was generous to a fault. When I mentioned I was in a long waiting list for an operation on the NHS he instantly offered to pay for it to be done privately”.

Sir Clive became truly famous when he launched his first home computer in 1980 called the ZX80, selling for £99.95 it undercut the existing players by 80% and sold 100,000, for that time a big number in one year. The next year he launched its successor the ZX81 for £69.95 and sold 1.5m of them, massively out-stripping the competition. In 1982 the Spectrum arrived and sold 5 million units.

In 1983 he received his knighthood for his efforts in bringing computing capability to the general public. In 1984 he was asked to give a speech to the US Congressional Clearinghouse which was chaired by the young senator Al Gore. In the speech he spoke of replacing people in factories by robots and computers, the development of what we now call the internet, mobile phones and eco-friendly electric cars that inevitably would become the standard form of personal transport.

Of course some of his inventions did not do so well and his strong character led to stubbornness when it came to taking advice. The famous C5 electric car was probably his most famous failure. In an interview with the Scotsman newspaper in 2006 he said, “I got it wrong in the past, spectacularly so.”

What few people know was that his real breakthrough was the programmable calculator. When Texas Instruments released their first programmable chip in the early 1970s, Clive and his business partner, Nigel Searle, flew to Dallas, Texas. In the space of a few days they demonstrated how to machine code a multitude of mathematical functions. This achieved a great deal on purchasing processors from TI and ultimately led to the release of the Sinclair Scientific Programmable, the worlds first programmable calculator.

More than anything though Clive will be remembered as one of the good guys. He liked nothing better than to have company, sharing a bottle of wine and passing the time with banter, sometimes sharp and bang up to the minute in technological development, and other times just witty, jolly and even silly. He was a man ahead of his time. They don't make them like this anymore.
Sir Clive Sinclair
Sir Clive Sinclair (right) at the Bigger Deal book launch