(Quantum Leap) Sir Clive Sinclair
's first Motorola 68008-based personal computer
, developed from around 1981 and released about 1983. The QL ran Sinclair's QDOS operating system
which was the first multitasking
OS on a home computer, though few programmers used this feature. It had a structured, extended BASIC
and a suite of integrated application programs
written by Psion
. It featured innovative "microdrives" which were random-access tape drives. It was not a success.
The microdrives were innovative but probably a mistake. Though reliable and quite quick, they sounded like they were going to jam and explode, releasing a shower of plastic shavings and tape into your face.
The QL and QDOS only supported two graphics modes - ominously named high res and low res. High res had four (fixed) colours at a resolution of 512 by 256 pixels
. Low res had 8 colours (black, blue, red, magenta, green, cyan, yellow, white) plus a flash mode with 256 by 256 pixels. The sound was next to useless - single channel single oscillator with various parameters for fuzz, pitch change. There was one internal font
, scalable to 2 heights and 3 widths.
Peripherals and enhancements included a GUI
on a plug-in ROM
, accelerator cards (Motorola 68020
, 4 MB RAM), floppy disks
and hard disks
In 1996 there is still some interest in the QL, spread by the Internet of course. Emulation
software, source code
, "The QL Hackers Journal" and similar are still available, and many QLs are on the net.