HOME computing pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair has died at the age of 81, according to reports.

His daughter Belinda Sinclair told the Guardian that the pocket calculator trailblazer and the brains behind the Spectrum home computers died at his home in London on Thursday morning.

Sir Clive Sinclair launched the first affordable consumer computer in 1980, costing less than £100 but will be best remembered in Wales for the ill-fated Sinclair C5 vehicle.

An electric tricycle, the C5, was heralded as the future of eco-friendly transport but turned out to be an expensive flop.

The vehicles were to be manufactured by vacum firm Hoover at its plant in Pentrebach, Merthyr Tydfil.

They were launched amid much secrecy, media speculation and excitment on January 10, 1985 with the parts assembled at the factory in a deal brookered by the Welsh Development Agency.

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But the press branded the tricycles a "dangerous toy" and the vehicle was never taken seriously and dismissed as the Hoover Hedgehog among other names. Their speed was restricted to just 15mph by law.

Within a year, and after 12,000 Sinclair C5s had been produced, the state-of-the-art assembly line in Merthyr was mothballed and the bankrupt C5 Vehicles firm owed Hoover around £1.5m.

The multimillionaire entrepreneur’s company launched the ZX models in a decade where personal computer use boomed.

Sinclair became the first company in the world to sell more than a million computers, making Sir Clive’s surname a household word.

His daughter told the Guardian: “He was a rather amazing person. Of course, he was so clever and he was always interested in everything.

“My daughter and her husband are engineers so he’d be chatting engineering with them.”

A man of diverse interests, Sir Clive’s projects also saw him explore new technology in the worlds of television as well as cars.

Born in 1940, Sir Clive left school at the age of 17, becoming a technical journalist writing specialist manuals.

Aged 22, he formed Sinclair Radionics, his first company, making mail order radio kits, including the smallest transistor radio in the world.

Later in life he pioneered the pocket calculator and was dubbed an “electronics wizard”.

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Other ventures included expansions into digital watches and the development of the world’s smallest television set.

It was with another company, Sinclair Research, that Sir Clive found his home computing successes as he faced off against international competition.

The ZX 81 computer launched in 1981 sold half a million and was followed up by more powerful models.

Film director Edgar Wright paid tribute to Sir Clive’s computing achievements on Twitter.

He tweeted: “For someone whose first glimpses of a brave new world were the terrifying graphics of 3D Monster Maze on the ZX81, I’d like to salute tech pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair.

“He made 21st Century dreams feel possible. Will bash away on the rubber keys of a Spectrum in your honour. RIP.”

Tom Watson, former deputy leader of the Labour Party, tweeted: “This man changed the course of my life.

“And arguably, the digital age for us in the UK started with the Sinclair ZX80, when thousands of kids learnt to code using 1k of RAM. For us, the Spectrum was like a Rolls Royce with 48k.”

Sir Clive was knighted in the birthday honours in 1983.

Additional reporting PA

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