Part I Background Information
I. More information about Sir Clive Sinclair
Sir Clive Sinclair (born in July 30, 1940) is a well-known British entrepreneur and inventor of the world's first 'slim-line' electronic pocket calculator in 1972 and the
ZX80, ZX81 and ZX Spectrum computers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, amongst
many other things.
The ZX80 was the UK's first mass market home computer to be sold for under
?100. Sinclair was fascinated by electronics and miniaturization from his teenage
years. In 1961 he started his own company, Sinclair Radionics Ltd, after spending several years as assistant editor for Practical Wireless and Instrument Practice to raise
In recent years Sinclair has become a keen poker player and appeared in the first
three seasons of the Late Night Poker TV series. He won the first season final of the
Celebrity Poker Club spin-off, defeating Keith Allen
His most recent invention is the A-bike, an ingenious folding bicycle for
commuters that weighs only 5.5 kilograms (12 pounds) and folds to a very small size
for easy carrying on a train or bus.
Early life, family and education.
Sinclair's father and grandfather were engineers; both had been apprentices at Vickers
the shipbuilders. His grandfather George Sinclair was an innovative naval architect
who got the paravane, a mine sweeping device, to work. George Sinclair's son Bill
Sinclair attempted to break the family tradition of engineering by expressing a
preference for going into the church - or perhaps becoming a journalist. His father suggested he train as an engineer first; Bill became a mechanical engineer and has
been in the field ever since. At the outbreak of World War II in 1939 he was running his own machine tools business in London and later worked for the Ministry of Supply.
Clive Sinclair was born in 1940 near Richmond. He and his mother left London to stay with an aunt for safety in Devon, where they eventually travelled to
Teignmouth. A telegram arrived shortly after bringing the news that their home in
Richmond had been bombed. Clive's father, Bill Sinclair, found a house in Bracknell
in Berkshire. Sinclair's brother Ian was born in 1943 and his sister Fiona in 1947.
Clive enjoyed the freedom of the holidays and had interests in swimming and
boating. At an early age he designed a submarine, possibly being influenced by his grandfather George. During the holidays he could pursue his own ideas and teach himself what he wanted to know. Sinclair had little interest in sports and found
himself out of place with others at school. He preferred the company of adults, this
type of companionship he only got from his family.
Sinclair attended Box Grove preparatory school. At school, he excelled in
mathematics. By the time Clive was ten, his father Bill Sinclair had financial
problems. He had branched out from machine tools and planned to import miniature
tractors from the US; however, he eventually had to give up the business. Because of
his father's financial problems, Sinclair had to move school several times. Sinclair
took his O-levels at Highgate School in London in 1955 and S-levels in physics, and
pure applied maths at St. George's College, Weybridge.
During his early years, Sinclair earned money mowing lawns and washing up,
and earned 6d (old pence) more than permanent staff in the cafe. Later he went for
holiday jobs at electronic companies. At Solatron he started to enquire his mentors
about the possibility of electrically propelled personal vehicles. Sinclair applied for a
holiday job at Mullard and took along one of his circuit designs; he was rejected for
the theoretical precociousness. While still at school he wrote the first article for Practical Wireless.
Sinclair did not want to go to university when he left school just before his 18th
birthday. By this time, he knew that he wanted to sell miniature electronic kits by mail order to the hobbyist market.
Advertisement for the Sinclair Micrometric radio. Sinclair's Micro Kit was formalized in an exercise book dated 19 June 1958 three weeks before the start of his A-levels. In the book, Sinclair drew a radio circuit,
Model Mark I, with a components list, cost/set 9:11d (49?p) + colored wire & solder nuts & bolts + celluloid chassis (drilled) = 9/- (45p). Also in the book are the
advertisement rates for Radio Constructor (9d (3?p)/word, minimum 6/- (30p)) and Practical Wireless (5/6 (27?p) per line or part line).
Sinclair estimated to produce at the rate of 1,000 a month, orders placed with the
companies supplying the components for 10,000 of each to be delivered at a call off
rate of 1,000 per month.
Sinclair wrote a book for Bernard's Publishing, Practical transistor receivers Book 1, appeared in January 1959. It was re-printed late that year, and nine times
subsequently. His practical stereo handbook was first published in June 1959; and
reprinted seven times over a period of 14 years. The last book Sinclair wrote as an employee of Bernard's was Modern Transistor Circuits for Beginners, first published in May 1962. During the period he was employed by Bernard Babani, he had
produced 13 constructors books.
Sinclair decided to start his own business. In 1961 he registered his company as Sinclair Radionics Ltd. His original choice, Sinclair Electronics, was already taken; Sinclair Radio was available but didn't sound right to Sinclair. Eventually Sinclair
Radionics was formed on 25 July 1961.
Sinclair made two attempts to raise startup capital necessary to advertise his
inventions and buy components. He designed PCB kits and licensed some technology.
Then he took his design for a miniature transistor pocket radio and spent some time seeking for a backer for its production in kit form. Eventually he found someone who
agreed to buy 55% of his company for ?3,000; however, the deal didn’t go through.
Sinclair, unable to find capital, joined United Trade Press (UTP), based at 9
Gough Square, just off Fleet Street, as technical editors of the journal Instrument Practice. Sinclair's name first appeared in Instrument Practice as an assistant editor in
March 1962. Sinclair described the method of making silicon planar transistors, their properties and applications and expressed a hope that they might be available by the
end of 1962. Sinclair was obsessed with miniaturization, as became more and more obvious as his career progressed. Sinclair undertook a survey for Instrument Practice of Semiconductor devices, which appeared in four sections between September 1962
and January 1963.
His last appearance as assistant editor was in April 1969. Through UTP, Sinclair
had access to thousands of devices from 36 manufacturers. He contacted
Semiconductors Ltd and ordered rejects that he would repair. He produced a design
for a miniature radio powered by a couple of hearing aid cells and made a deal with Semiconductor Ltd to buy their MATs at 6d (2?p) each in boxes of 10,000. He would
then carry out his own quality control tests, and market his renamed MAT 100 and
120 at 7/9d (38?p) and 101 and 121 at 8/6 (42?p).
Sinclair Radionics lasted until 1979, with various products and company
spin-offs. Beginning with a mini-amplifier, the company quickly earned a name for design, quality and pioneering ideas. The overall vision was to produce in bulk and to
sell cheaply. This risky but potentially profitable 'stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap'
approach has made fortunes before, but carries with it the risk of bankruptcy. In the early days one strategy essential to this policy for Sinclair Radionics was production
in ket form.
Sinclair Research Ltd (1978--present)
ZX Spectrum (1982)
In June 1978 Science of Cambridge launched a microcomputer kit, marketed as the
MK14, based around the National SC/MP chip. By July 1978, a personal computer
project was already underway. When Sinclair learnt that the NewBrain could not be sold at below the sub-?100 price that he envisaged, his thoughts turned to the ZX80
instead. In May 1979 Jim Westwood started the ZX80 project at Science of
Cambridge, it was launched in February 1980 at ?79.95 in kit form and ?99.95 ready-built. In November Science of Cambridge was renamed to “Sinclair computers
In March 1981, the company was renamed again to Sinclair Research Ltd and the Sinclair ZX81 was launched at ?49.95 in kit form and ?69.95 ready-built, by mail order. In February 1982 Timex obtained a license to manufacture and market
Sinclair's computers in the US under the name Timex Sinclair. In April the ZX Spectrum was launched, priced at ?125 for the 16 kB RAM version and ?175 for the
48 KB version. In March 1982 the company made an ?8.55m profit on turnover of
?27.17m, including ?383,000 government grants for the TV80 flat screen portable
In 1982 Clive Sinclair converted the Barker & Wadsworth mineral water bottling
factory at 25 Willis Road, Cambridge into the Sinclair Building to use it as the
company's new headquarters. (It was sold to Cambridge shire County Council in
December 1985 due to Sinclair's immense debts and finance troubles.)
II. More information about Mensa.
What is Mensa?
Mensa was founded in England in 1946 by Roland Berrill, a barrister, and Dr. Lance
Ware, a scientist and lawyer. They had the idea of forming a society for bright people,
the only qualification for membership of which was a high IQ. The original aims
were, as they are today, to create a society that is non-political and free from all racial or religious distinctions. The society welcomes people from every walk of life whose
IQ is in the top 2% of the population, with the objective of enjoying each other's
company and participating in a wide range of social and cultural activities. What are Mensa’s goals?
Mensa has three stated purposes:
to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity
to encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence
to provide a stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its member. How many members does Mensa have?
Today there are some 100,000 Mensans in 100 countries throughout the world. There
are active Mensa organizations in over 40 countries on every continent except
Antarctica. Membership numbers are also available for specific National Groups. What kind of people are Members of Mensa?
There is simply no one prevailing characteristic of Mensa members other than high
IQ. There are Mensans for whom Mensa provides a sense of family, and others for
whom it is a casual social activity. There have been many marriages made in Mensa,
but for many people, it is simply a stimulating opportunity for the mind. Most
Mensans have a good sense of humor, and they like to talk. And, usually, they have a
lot to say.
Mensans range in age from 4 to 94, but most are between 20 and 60. In education
they range from preschoolers to high school dropouts to people with multiple
doctorates. There are Mensans on welfare and Mensans who are millionaires. As far
as occupations, the range is staggering. Mensa has professors and truck drivers,
scientists and firefighters, computer programmers and farmers, artists, military
people, musicians, laborers, police officers, glassblowers--the diverse list goes on and on. There are famous Mensans and prize-winning Mensans, but there are many whose
names you wouldn’t know.
What does “Mensa” mean?
The word "Mensa" means "table" in Latin. The name stands for a round-table society,
where race, color, creed, national origin, age, politics, educational or social
background are irrelevant.
What opinions does Mensa have?
Mensa takes no stand on politics, religion or social issues. Mensa has members from
so many different countries and cultures with differing points of view, that for Mensa
to espouse a particular point of view would go against its role as a forum for all points
of view. Of course, individual Mensa members often have strong opinions--and
several of them. It is said that in a room with 12 mensans you will find at least 13
differing opinions on any given subject.
How do I qualify for Mensa?
Membership in Mensa is open to persons who have attained a score within the upper two percent of the general population on an approved intelligence test that has been
properly administered and supervised. There is no other qualification or
disqualification for membership eligibility.
The term "IQ score" is widely used but poorly defined. There are a large number
of tests with different scales. The result on one test of 132 can be the same as a score
148 on another test. Some intelligence tests don't use IQ scores at all. Mensa has set a
percentile as cutoff to avoid this confusion. Candidates for membership in Mensa
must achieve a score at or above the 98th percentile on a standard test of intelligence
(a score that is greater than or equal to that achieved by 98 percent of the general
population taking the test)
Generally, there are two ways to prove that you qualify for Mensa: either take the
Mensa test, or submit a qualifying test score from another test. There are a large
number of intelligence tests that are "approved". More information on whether a test
you have taken is approved, as well as information on the procedure for taking the
Mensa test, can be obtained from the nearest Mensa office. There are no on-line tests
that can be used for admission to Mensa. Feel free to contact Mensa for specific
details about eligibility.
Mensa has no other eligibility requirements other than IQ testing. However,
many tests are not valid for people under the age of 16. You should contact the nearest
Mensa office for more information.
Is there a Mensa test?
If you've never taken an IQ test, or don't want to bother with getting official copies of
your test scores, then Mensa can test you. You will be put in contact with the local
testing coordinator who will tell you about specific testing dates and places.
In some countries, a pre-test is available which you can take in the privacy of
your home. To find out whether such a test is available in your country, please see
National Groups. When you've finished the pre-test, send it back to the address instructed. It will be scored, and you will be notified of the results. If your score is
high enough, you'll be invited to take a qualifying supervised test. The pre-test is just
for practice; you can't use it to qualify for Mensa even if you score at or above the
98th percentile. Taking a pre-test is not required for admission, however, many people
take it simply for the challenge.
If you want to take a practice, on-line test, the Mensa Workout is an intelligence
quiz in which you have half an hour to answer 30 questions. When you submit your
answers, your test is instantly scored, and you can see how your score measures up.
The answers to the questions are provided along with discussion of the answers. The
Workout is not an IQ test, and can't be used for qualification to join Mensa.
Does Mensa Provide Intellectual Stimulation? Whatever your passion, there's almost certain to be a Special Interest Group (SIG)
filled with other Mensans who share it! Mensa offers approximately 200 SIGs, in
mind-boggling profusion from African Violets to zoology. Along the way you'll find
microbiology, and systems analysis, but you'll also find Sherlock Holmes, chocolate
and Star Trek. There are the expected: biochemistry, space science, economics -- and
the unexpected: poker, roller-skating, scuba diving, UFOs and witchcraft. There are
SIGs for breadmaking, winemaking, cartooning, silversmithing, and clowning.
Heraldry, semantics and Egyptology co-exist with beekeeping, motorcycling and tap dancing. Sports SIGs cover the classics (baseball, basketball, and football) and the
not-so-classic (skeet shooting, hang gliding, skydiving). And any Mensan who can’t
find a SIG to join can easily start one.
Does Mensa Provide Social Interaction?
Mensa meetings are anything but dull! Local groups meet at least monthly. Often it's
for dinner and drinks on a Friday night, or for get-togethers featuring a speaker or a lively, freewheeling discussion. All are with fellow members who share your
intellectual interests. Some groups have special get-togethers or activities throughout the month. Others, especially the larger groups, have events nearly every day. Of
course, participation in local group activities is always entirely at your option. There are also widely attended annual conventions offering workshops, seminars, and
parties, plus numerous regional gatherings are held each year, offering social and
What other Benefits Does Mensa offer?
In some countries Mensa sponsors a members-only credit card and insurance program. There is also a program that aids traveling Mensans. III.