The Sinclair QL is 25 yrs old today!

Chances are that you have never heard of the Sinclair QL. However if you are as old as me and European then you may have a soft spot for this 68k-based machine launched twelve days before that other 68k machine from the fruit company. It was my first 32-bit multitasking machine, with a real operating system (shame about the keyboard and storage device though).

I got one of the fruit company's 68k machines not long after the QL as an advance from my publishers and used it (running MacWrite 1.0) for my two QL books (one of which is quoted on the wikipedia page!) and wrote assembly language code for both platforms. My University 3rd year project was a debugger for the QL and I wrote an assembler too, which eventually turned into HiSoft Devpac for the QL, Atari ST and CBM Amiga once I got a proper job. So I guess I can thank the QL for my decades of work in the development tools field.

My parents attic still contains my disassembly of one of the QL operating systems (FB I think), though I know they would like me to dispose of it and much of the other detris from my past, though my QL hardware stayed at HiSoft as I recall. I think I still have some microdrive cartridges somewhere.

For the nostalgic see this page for the 25th Birthday rememberance, thanks for the info Urs, I would have no idea otherwise.

Comments (9)
  1. Jim Lynn says:

    Stop making me feel old.

    My one contact with the QL was being asked to disassemble the ROM to look at the maths routines it was using. It was my one and only brush with 68K. Strangely, despite working at Compiter Concepts, which had several products for the ST (Fast Basic and Fast Asm among them – let’s draw a veil over Calligrapher) I managed to avoid doing any 68K dev work at all. I skipped straight from the BBC and 6502 to the ARM-based Archimedes.

    I remember the microdrives were really flaky, and I also remember being perversely happy when the BASIC was benchmarked and turned out to be slower than the venerable BBC Micro.

  2. Dilwyn Jones says:

    I still have your QL books, Andy- nice to know you still remember QL. I now use a QL emulator called QPC2. User group Quanta is still going and holding a 25th birthday bash on 18/19 April 2009 at Allesley Hotel, Allesley, Nr Coventry CV5 9GP, I’m sure QLers would be very happy to see you there if you could attend for a bit of nostalgia!

  3. Andy-Pennell says:

    Dilwyn: Thanks so much for the invitation, sadly its pretty hard for me to cross the Atlantic these days (small kids etc). Have fun without me!

  4. There were copies of your books for sale at the Quanta AGM and QL 25th birthday bash in Coventry at the weekend.

    If you still have a soft spot for Qdos you may (albeit briefly) enjoy the emulators QLAY2, QL2K, UQLX or QPC2.

  5. Biscuit says:

    Hi Andy,

    I used many of the devpac products over the years. It was great stuff. The best debugger available of the time (until, of course, I wrote my own – only kidding, devpac was still better).

    I never realized you did one for the QL. I could have used that. I used it mostly on the Atari ST.

  6. David Link says:


    I think this is the Wikipedia link to HiSOFT that you should include in this article –

    All the best!


  7. Andy-Pennell says:

    Hi Dave! Thanks, I updated the link. Some contractors at work are from the Chinese Hisoft and it freaked me out the first time I saw their email.

  8. Tom Fakes says:

    This is weird – Facebook just suggested you as a potential friend.  I guess you've worked with some people that I have.  I looked you up to see what's up!

    I had a copy of your books when writing code for my QL way back in the mid 80s in London.  The QL was my first real computer.  I never really got into the things with cassette tapes.  

    I now live in Kirkland.  Is there a local QL group?  Should we start one?

  9. Andy-Pennell says:

    Tom: woah another QL user living in Kirkland, freaky! The only QL things I still possess are a couple of ROM disassemblies and a bunch of microdrive carts I have no way of reading.

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