The British gaming revolution of the '80s might have been sparked by the BBC Micro, but it was the genius entrepreneur Clive Sinclair, with his slim, rubber-keyed box of wonder, who delivered it to the masses.
Acorn's Micro was the serious computer of the classroom, the bulky, beige-and-black beast that inspired a generation to learn how to make games. But it was an eye-wateringly pricy bit of kit that most families simply couldn't afford.
The ZX Spectrum was different. It was a computer for everyone, launched at a bargain price that in no small sense helped popularise an amazing new form of entertainment and provide a home for thousands of games, the greatest of which turned their creators into stars as Britannia ruled the gaming waves.
It's difficult to overstate the influence the Spectrum had on shaping the games industry as we now know it. So to celebrate this key milestone in gaming history, let's have a good old wallow in the misty-eyed nostalgia of Speccy's greatest games.
A deceptively simple, fiendishly challenging platforming classic that remains an utter joy to play today. And don't pretend you didn't brick it the first time that massive bird escaped its cage and went for you. The stuff of nightmares.
This legendary Matthew Smith title marked the first appearance of his Willy in a game. Hugely influential, it was the first home computer title to feature an in-game soundtrack, and its wacky Brit humour perfectly captured the cavalier creative spirit of the age.
Jet Set Willy
No cock-ups here as Smith got his Willy out again in the seminal sequel to Manic Miner. A whopping 60-room mansion to explore, another beautifully judged classical soundtrack, and another unforgettable landmark in the platform genre. How did he pull it off?
God knows how they did it, but the incredible rotating tower that formed the basis for this elegantly designed action puzzler impresses even now. So much so that the idea has been recycled in two excellent new games: Rinth Island on iOS and Fez on Xbox Live.
Ultimate Play The Game's fabulous top-down castle romp inspired not just games, but also a cult kids' TV show, the mighty Knightmare. Today, of course, the company remains at the cutting-edge of game design. Only these days, it goes by the name of Rare.
Flip-screen games were all the rage back then and Ultimate's first Sabreman adventure featured a massive 256 of 'em, with beautifully drawn, colourful visuals and gameplay that couldn't have been more addictive if they injected heroin into your eyeballs.
For all the charm of its home-grown offerings, the Spectrum was clearly massively inferior technology when compared with the arcade machines of the day. Which made this astonishing port of the jaw-dropping Irem shoot-'em-up all the more remarkable – a port that was insane even to attempt and should never have worked.
Kevin Tom's sensational sim was the obsession that started a phenomenon. These days its name is preserved in Sports Interactive's peerless, benchmark tactical take on the beautiful game. And its original creator – whose '70s porn star beard and grinning chops beamed from every cassette box – is currently knocking out a new footy game for smartphones.
Emerging in the mid-'80s, Ocean Software grew to dominate the games industry, powering out hit after hit with startling consistency. Arcade racer Chase HQ was one of many high-profile coin-op conversions that pushed Spectrum to its limits. A corker.
Another entry for Ultimate and a game whose influence cannot be ignored. Its isometric 3D visuals were revolutionary for the time and pretty soon every man and his dog were trying to copy it – but none possessed the design flair of the all-powerful Stamper brothers.