The Sinclair QL Home Computer was released by Sinclair Research Limited in 1984 - the successor to the earlier Sinclair computers, the ZX80, ZX81 and ZX Spectrum. The QL was the first Sinclair computer to break away from the 8 bit Z80 processor and to use the new Motorola 32 bit 68000 series processor. Alas, its speed was hindered by the fact that it only had a 16 bit bus, although the 68000 soon became a favourite processor for many computer users.
The QL was launched as a business machine, complete with two built in microdrives, 128K, full sized keyboard and 4 Psion business programs (Quill - Wordprocessor, Archive - Database program, Easel - Business Graphics and Charts, Abacus - Spreadsheet) and a powerful SuperBASIC. The display is 32K in size and supports two standard modes - 4 colours in 512x256 pixels, or 8 colours in 256x256 pixels (each individual pixel in the 8 colour mode can also have a flash attribute).
Alas the early QLs suffered from unreliable v1 Psion software, unreliable microdrives and a third of the ROM being present on a "dongle" in the back of the QL. This lead to quite a lot of bad press unfortunately. This was an interesting ploy by Sinclair - they wanted to beat the Apple Macintosh to market, so decided to launch a machine which had numerous hardware problems, but by adding the dongle, they were able to claim that the problems were related to the QDOS operating system.
However, an updated version of the QL (issue 5 motherboard) and Psion software was soon released, and the QL has remained popular amongst a hardcore of users, with 2 replacement operating systems (Smsq/e and Minerva), numerous emulators and even 16 bit colour drivers. Improved versions of the Sinclair QL were also released by ICL and BT as the One Per Desk and Merlin Tonto (respectively) or the Computerphone in Australia. These computers shared much of the hardware, but had their own operating systems and software, designed to be used with a built in telephone and modem.
A wide range of business and games software has been released over the years, and the QL is still actively supported by traders, a user group (Quanta) and a magazine (QL Today).
More details about the Sinclair QL and an overview of software appears on the Sinclair QL Wiki
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