Sinclair and Timex, were most conspicuous by their absence at the giant West Coast Computer Faire held in San Francisco at the end of March.
The booth listed in the catalogue as being the Sinclair one was unmanned throughout the show, the most important computer show in the world. Some 40,000 people crammed into a show with over 600 stands, to be confronted at the alleged Sinclair booth with a tiny, hand-written notice saying that Clive's people would not be there.
I found a disconsolate set of four ZX81 owners - who are very much in a minority among computer users in America - sitting sadly in the booth swapping "Zee-X81" stories.
One enterprising ZX81 owner in the States, Eric Reiter of 16th Avenue, San Francisco, had a tiny, one-yard wide booth, in which he was showing his expansion board, which is suitable for ZX80s, ZX81s and the ZX80-lookalike, the MicroAce. The expansion board was a complicated, spaghetti-junction type motherboard which was controlling little lights and squawkers.
A series of seminars were held throughout the show. One talk was given by the president of Mindware, Michael Levy. It was fascinating to hear questions from those present at the talk who had never heard before of the ZX81. Michael tried to explain the excitement the ZX81 was generating in the UK, but I could see his words were received with some scepticism. When he told the seminar about the crushing crowds at ZX Microfairs, the disbelief reached fever pitch.
Mindware is one of the few American companies which have realised how big the ZX81 is going to be when it takes off in America. Michael Levy has visited the UK three times in the last few months to sign rights and distribution deals for UK products. He says that the standard of UK software, hardware and publications is very high, and thus was anxious to ensure the best of it was made available for American consumers.
The secret word from the States is that the computer will not be known as the ZX81 when it is launched there by Timex. The most likely name is "Timex 1000" or if, as appears possible, the computer is sold with 2K on board, the "Timex 2000".