Inventor and entrepreneur Sir Clive Sinclair, who died earlier this year at the age of 81, was responsible for the ZX80, ZX81 and ZX Spectrum home computers of the early 1980s, which, along with the more substantial machines of Acorn and Commodore, inspired a generation of bedroom coders to lay the foundations for an industry that, in the 40 years since, has grown to dominate the entertainment landscape.
One of those encouraged to get into coding after receiving a ZX81 was a young Jim Philpot, who would go on to become the development manager and head of operations at Ignition Entertainment, working alongside the likes of Archer Maclean and Jim Bagley. Upon learning of Sinclair’s death earlier this year, Philpot immediately set to work creating the Sinclair Book of Remembrance.
On one level it is a simple online repository where those who met, knew, or were simply energised by Sinclair or his creations, are able to put words and pictures to their memories and thoughts. Beyond that, the effort is intended to become a “digital monument” that will represent the memories of Sinclair users via a unique code that Philpot likes to think Uncle Clive would approve of.
“I thought it was appropriate that we did something a bit techie” says Philpot, who was inspired to use blockchain technology to create a single, unique code to represent what Sinclair meant to those contributing to the Sinclair Book of Remembrance. “I’m not a big fan of cryptocurrencies and I hate NFTs with a passion, but I absolutely love the mathematics and the algorithms behind it and the way blockchain works. What’s clever about it is you can give it any data you like, any file, an MPEG, JPEG, text file, PDF, anything, and it converts it to a stream of data, and then renders it down to a 256-bit digit. So it’s just a big number. But the thing is, the number will be unique to that data.”
The plan is to, on a selected date – the anniversary of Clive Sinclair’s death, say – see what unique number is created by the SHA256 hash algorithm to represent the sum of the collected memories.
“What we’ll have created is a number that represents all of our common and shared experiences in respect to this man. It feels right.”
Philpot has no intention of profiting for his efforts, or to create any kind of NFT, only that those who contribute will feel a connection to what is hoped will be seen a memorial to the enduring influence and importance of one of the UK’s great computing pioneers. “I’d rather communities, as it were, came up with ideas. Maybe they’ll just create a sticker or a poster or something, but at this point, this is just a question of trying to spread the word as far possible so that people are encouraged to contribute.”
Entries are currently being accepted via email and are limited to one per person. Philpot is hoping to expand capacity to allow multiple entries via email and social media. Those wishing to see how the project progresses or are curious about adding their words and pictures to the project should head to sbor.uk.