Spectrum 48k+


The Spectrum 48k+ is in my opinion one of the best looking computers ever made.

My pal got his in 1985. I got his old second hand Spectrum 48k in August 1986 which needed repair, and I got a Spectrum 48k+ in October 1987 from John Menzies for £69.99.

History and development

From Retro Isle:

In October 1984, the Spectrum+ was released for £179.95 in order to address customer complaints over the rubber keyboard on the original Spectrum. Since the launch of the Spectrum its looks had been somewhat revolutionary, but two years on it was looking small, insignificant, and dated. Furthermore, issues with the original's keyboard were well known, and a number of manufacturers were successfully selling third-party keyboards as replacements for the Spectrum rubber keyboard - Sinclair wanted to compete with them. This revised keyboard still used the underlying rubber membrane, but had more professional plastic key caps, not unlike those found on the Sinclair QL released the same year. It also had a much larger space bar and Enter key.

Another positive addition was a reset button on the side of the casing. With the original spectrum no facility existed to power down or reset the machine, short of pulling the power connector out. Over time, this could cause the connector to become loose and reset the computer inadvertently, so having a proper reset button was a big deal!

For existing Spectrum owners, the Spectrum+ keyboard could be purchased as a home-upgrade kit for £50.

Introduction (1984)

The Spectrum 48k+ was introduced in October 1984 at £179.95.

Price Reduction (1985)

By 1985 the price was reduced to £129.95.

Value Pack (1985)

Value packs were available from high street stores including Dixons, Clydesdale, Rumbelows and mail order.

The value packs usually included the Spectrum 6-Pack, Beau-Jolly Value Pack 48k (6 games from Imagine which had just gone bust!), Tape Recorder (Usually Mitsumi SR7C or Sanyo DR101), joystick and interface.

Amstrad Takeover (1986)

Amstrad took over Sinclair on 7th April 1986. It is estimated there were 50,000 computers in various stages of assembly and Amstrad stipulated they should be finished and sold as part of the takeover deal.

Upgrade kits (1986/1987)

Upgrade kits were available from repair shops like Video Vault. They'd even fit it for you for only £33.40 including return postage.

Upgrade kits included a new keyboard membrane because the 48k+ had more keys. The tensioner posts were essential to clamp the 3 layers of the keyboard membrane together. These membranes were not UV resistant and with heat and age they could become very brittle.

Discount Sales (1987)

By 1987 Amstrad owned Sinclair and +2/+2A and +3 computers were in full production.

Spectrum 48k+ Computers were being sold in John Menzies for £69.99. I bought mine from there.

They were not in the usual black boxes with a picture of the computer on the front. They were plain brown with black sticker on the side saying "Sinclair 48k+". Usual polystyrene, manual, power supply and cables inside. I am not sure if these were reconditioned, cost reduced or if they were simply clearing old stock.

Upgrade Kit Cases Today

Upgrade Kit cases and 48k+ computers still turn up on eBay from time to time. The upgrade kit cases have the word Upgraded stamped in red on the bottom where the serial number should be in green.

Upgrade Kit cases are ideal for housing original 48k machines with severly damaged cases, or remade Spectrums containing Raspberry PI computers.


The Amstrad Story
Retro Isle
Euro Gamer

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