American Express To Market Sinclair Research Computers



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Sinclair Research Ltd., the British personal computer maker said American Axpress will test market Sinclair’s $149.95 ZX-81 personal computer by mail this fall. A spokeswoman for American Express, which has a $140 million annual mail order business, says that if the test program is successful, the company will offer it to the 9.5 million U.S. card holders in 1982.

Company founder Clive Sinclair, who started Sinclair Research two years ago, says he has already sold 100,000 of the personal computers since he introduced them in the United Kingdom. Last March sales of a previous model, the ZX-80 which hit the market 18 months ago, also reached 100,000, Sinclair says.

Sinclair says: “We’ll sell 40,000 units this month. That’s more than Apple and Tandy combined.” Apple Computer Co., the fast-growing maker of personal computers that generally sell for over $1,000, says it has sold more than 300,000 and analysts estimate its current sales rate is about 20,000 units a month. Tandy Corp., maker of the TRS-80 computers, the cheapest of which is the TRS-80 Color Computer at $399, won’t discuss unit sales figures. All manufacturing of Sinclair’s computer is done by outsiders, principally Timex Corp. The watch maker assembles ZX-81s at its Dundee, Scotland, plant. Sinclair research has only about 30 employes world-wide, according to Sinclair.

The ZX-81 can be produced cheaply because it has only four customized integrated circuits to perform calculations, compared with 40 to 80 such circuits in more expensive personal computers. Sinclair says the four chips do as much work as many more chips in other machines, but because there are so few of them, manufacturing, assembly and wiring tasks are simplified.



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