Clive Sinclair, Inventive Computer Pioneer, 81. dies on
With the personal computer, Mr. Sinclair applied his creativity to technologies that were maturing for commercialization, such as electronics, semiconductors and software. The same couldn’t be said for his next ambitious venture: the electric vehicle.
Mr. Sinclair was convinced that electric cars were the future of transportation, but he was far ahead of the technology and economics that would one day make them possible. In 1985, he introduced the C5, a vehicle aptly described as a souped-up golf cart. Selling for £399, or about $450, it had a top speed of 15 mph, a range of 20 miles, and pedals to assist on hills. Mr Sinclair described it as a step towards a full-scale electric car. “The C5 is the first in the family of electric vehicles,” he said.
He expected to sell 100,000 of his electric vehicles in 1985. But only 4,500 were sold, and the business was closed by the end of the year when he had put a lot of his money into the venture. Sinclair computer sales began to decline, and with a lack of funds, Mr. Sinclair sold the computer business to Amstrad, another British personal computer manufacturer, in 1986.
Mr. Sinclair endeared himself to the British public partly because he embodied a classic English type – the eccentric inventor, or “boffin”, a complimentary term. His interests and interests were wide. He collected modern art, but he was also a lover of classical music and poetry, especially those of William Butler Yeats, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Robert Frost.
His days, as described in a 1985 article in The Times Magazine, usually began with a six- or seven-mile run through Hyde Park in London at 6:30 a.m. (He completed several New York Marathons.) “I ran the day. I sort ,” he said. “I can think of a business problem or a lecture, but I can also think of women, the weather, or poetry.”
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his sons, Crispin and Bartholomew; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His two marriages ended in divorce.
Mr. Sinclair had been tinkering with inventions until shortly before his death, Ms. Sinclair said, “because that’s what he loved to do.”
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