RICK DICKINSON, who was responsible for many of the iconic shapes of early tech in the UK, has died.
The designer was responsible for the outer design of the pioneering home computer, the Sinclair ZX80, and its successor, the Sinclair ZX81. The latter won him a British Design Council award as well as a Haus Industrieform gong, where the ZX81 remains part of the permanent collection.
He was also responsible for the rubber keyboard of the best selling UK computer of the era, the ZX Spectrum.
Both keyboards were unique at the time - the "dead flesh" of the Spectrum's single membrane significantly reduced costs, which, in part, led to mass-adoption in homes that would previously have been unable to afford a computer, whilst the flat ZX80 and ZX81 were early examples of touch-sensitive surfaces.
As an in-house designer for Sinclair Research, Dickinson also designed the Sinclair QL case and the teeny-tiny Sinclair telly - the TV80.
He left Sinclair Research around the time it was acquired by Alan Sugar's Amstrad, but continued to work for Sugar on a freelance basis, as well as on Sir Clive Sinclair's first post-sale project, the Cambridge Z88 - a sort of cross between the Spectrum and a Psion Organiser.
He went on to work on a number of mobile phone, laptop and games console designs.
More recently he had been working on his ideas for new Spectrum designs and had released an archive of his original doodlings from the Sinclair years.
Dickinson was diagnosed with cancer, but despite initially getting the all-clear, it returned and Dickinson had moved to the USA to undergo experimental treatment not offered on the NHS. He died suddenly in-between treatment cycles.
His exact age and surviving relatives are unclear, but he leaves behind a wife, Elizabeth, and millions of fans of his designs, and a number of forthcoming projects that take his legacy onwards. µ
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