Updated (30/12/20): The Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2 – It Has One or Two Models of Datacorder?


UPDATED (30/12/20) to add the PCB Layout Diagram for the +2B, taken from the Spectrum +2B/+3B Amendment Service Manual. I am checking this against actual PCBs, so please bear with me. As stated in the article below, there are (at least) two versions of the PCB used in the +2 black Amstrad-era Spectrums.

I like all models of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. They all have their pros and cons.

The original rubber key 16/48k Sinclair ZX Spectrum and its Sinclair-era Spectrum successors – the Spectrum Plus and the Spectrum 128 – all relied on an external tape player to load games from cassette, using tape leads between tape player and Spectrum.

When Clive Sinclair sold the Sinclair computer brand to Alan Sugar, Sugar transferred some of the design ideas that were also used on the Amstrad CPC range of personal computers.

The Amstrad CPC was released after the Spectrum, so Amstrad could learn from the shortcomings of the earlier Sinclair machine. But the CPC had a lot of catching up to do, especially when it came to games.

The CPC still used a tape player to load games but it was built into the same case as the keyboard. This followed Sugar’s repeated philosophy, as he had earlier used on his audio equipment, of everything in one box – although the CPC monitor was physically separate, there was only one plug for everything.

So the Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2, the first Amstrad-era Spectrum, built on the success of the Spectrum and as I’ve already said, used some of the design ideas from the CPC:

  • an all-in-one case, very similar to the CPC case, with RF display output (old analogue) and higher-quality RGB display output. The monitor had a separate plug and power supply, and was not included with the computer. This was different to the original Amstrad CPC, which only had one plug.
  • a built-in tape player, called a “Datacorder” and with this name emblazoned across the tape player window. No more tape leads to fiddle around with.
  • a proper keyboard – no more of the rubber keys and what some people call its “dead flesh” feel. A proper hard keyboard that is very similar to what we use on our Windows PCs, Linux machines and Apple computers today.
  • 128k of RAM, which when released seemed like a lot of memory when you were used to just 48k
  • a new three-channel sound chip that was added to the TV sound – no more beeper

The first Amstrad Spectrum was the grey +2, which used a lot of the design of the Spectrum 128 “Toastrack”.

Next came the black (I think of it more of a dark grey) +2A, +2B which were tape players and the disk version +3 which had another Amstrad “innovation”/”annoyance” – 3″ disks – not 3.5″, not 5.25″ but 3″. Yes, really!

The black +2 models also had a separate power supply. The notoriously unreliable DC-DC converter circuit was removed from the design between the grey +2 and black +2 models. A separate power “brick” (it is about as heavy as a brick!) dealt with supplying the different voltages on separate pins of a DIN plug. This improved reliability of the Spectrum, and looked after the power for the Datacorder.

Here, I am looking at the tape players/Datacorders. Elsewhere on the World Wide Web, it is stated that there is only one version of the tape player in the +2A and +2B.

But this is not the case.

If you look very carefully, you will see some differences. They may well be minor, but there are nevertheless some differences.

If you are the first to contact me with all of the differences between the two models of tape drive, you will receive a free prize (UK only sorry!) as well as the satisfaction that you have a keen attention to detail! Sadly, NOBODY WON THE COMPETITION, AS NOBODY GOT THE ANSWERS RIGHT!

I should mention that I service and sell these Datacorders, for the black +2 and grey +2 models, as well as fully-working computers including refurbished and modernised ones.

I also sell external tape players for the Sinclair-era Spectrums.

So get in touch and I will put together a bundle of stuff for now at a good price with superb service.

Thanks for stopping by at PopeyMon Games and Fun.

How Dirty Is Your Spectrum?

Above is the inside of a Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2 that I bought online. This is one of the models that Amstrad produced when Alan Sugar bought the Sinclair computer brand from Clive Sinclair. It is a later issue 4, also known as the +2B.

The ad for the computer did not have photos of the inside! I would describe it as an insect zoo. The other machine from the same supplier was not as bad, but it was still pretty bad.

It is the worst example of a machine that was not looked after by its previous owners. Many others that I get hold of, are in much better condition, and some are in near mint condition. The condition of a Spectrum is a major factor on the price, as well as whether it is fully working or not.

It is testament to the quality of manufacture by Amstrad that this filthy machine, when cleaned up, worked! It did take a lot of work though!

I now use this machine as a test machine, and have fully cleaned it up and fully tested it, with repaired tape drive and fully repaired and cleaned keyboard.

  • How dirty is your Spectrum?
  • What is the worst condition that you have seen one in?
  • Was it worse than the Spectrum above?
  • Did it still work?

Tell me in the comments below or get in touch at the contact details here!

I always try and test the computers that I buy, fix them and in some cases, fully refurbish them. That depends on what my customers want.

I sell them with accurate descriptions, as much as is possible.

If there are still any outstanding issues, I list them, so that my customers know in advance of buying. Many online sellers are not so honest.

If there are then any problems, all I ask is that they contact me to rectify them problems first.

Get in touch at the Contact details here. I will happily sell you parts or whole machines, or anything else Spectrum that you are looking for – games, joysticks, replacement cases, replacement keys, and so on. Just ask and I will check my stock.