Revive a Timex Sinclair 1000

Few years ago, I was surprised to find a Sinclair ZX81 re-branded Timex Sinclair 1000. For a guy who grew-up surrounded by Euro computers, it was quite refreshing. I bought one of these systems when I crossed the pond, hopping to be able to play with it later on. During the last retro gaming con in Portland, I found a 16 KB RAM module branded Timex Sinclair for few bucks. It seemed like fate, so this morning I dug them out from the machine vault. Unfortunately, when I powered it up … well, nothing happened! The good cosmetic shape of the machine mislead me and I skipped the visual inspection step of the retro computing check list. Fortunately, the magic smoke was still inside. OK, I was too optimistic. After opening-up the beast, I found two unexpected and unusual issues. First, the video modulator was not soldered correctly to the motherboard. Easy fix. Second, the keyboard ribbon had a subtle crack in it. This was trickier to find. Luckily the device is using two ribbons and only one of them was broken (therefore few keys were still registering which made me suspect the keyboard at some point). This second issue was harder to fix and required some serious contortion while re-seating the shortened one – yep, you have to cut! – into its socket. Nevertheless, once these issues fixed, the system came back to life. The poor video quality still needs some work though. I will really need to look into this, or find an old CRT TV…