Why I Collect QL?

It was a commercially fairly unsuccessful computer with total sales over it's approximately two year lifespan of circa 150,000 units. Positively mini in comparison to some other contemporary computers. The launch was a disaster, it was delivered much later than promised and early models didn't even have properly completed internals (they required the infamous external ROM-dongle to run). On top of that, the first versions of the OS (QDOS) and first versions of the bundled software (from Psion) were all very buggy, so buggy in fact, that they were really not fit for purpose. There were also many basic things that should have been featured from the start, but simply were not.

While many praised the QL for it's excellent value for money and decent capabilities in many areas, many users were not happy about the wait and the bugs and some early adopters like my uncle Peter, soon moved on to another computer system (in the 1980s there were a lot of competing computer systems, all incompatible with one another, not like nowadays where 98% of the world use some version of Windows/Linux/iOS on their home computers). The QL got off to a bad start and despite extensive marketing, including TV and full page newspaper ads, it never really recovered.

And it trundled along until it was swiftly killed off by Sinclair's new owner, in Spring 1986, because it simply wasn't a money spinner. Shelved and destined to fade away like so many other unsuccessful attempts at home/business computers in the 1980s.

But it didn't! It never completely faded. That's what I find somehow plucky about the QL and that aspect is what most appeals to me. Despite having no large company behind it and no substantial financial means to develop it further, some companies and individuals who originally developed hardware and software for the QL during its short life, saw that there was still potential in the system and continued to make things for it - and most impressively, they even made and sold more advanced QL compatible computer systems.

The QL is very much a niche. There are references to items in old magazines that I don't think have ever been seen in real life and there are none or very few online references. There are other items that I know exist but I've never seen offered for sale. To collect QL related items you have to be patient and search a lot, including in obscure places or e.g. for QL items lurking among ZX Spectrum lots. There aren't many QL collectors (at least, not that I know of), which means that picking up bargains is sometimes possible and that can be a rewarding feeling, especially when the Microdrive cartridge(s) are not jammed and the original software reads flawlessly. I've also been surprised on many occasions how expensive some things can become on well known auction sites. Either QL collecting is on a mini-boom, or the handful of collectors that are out there are becoming more willing to pay higher prices for certain things.

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