I was shocked and saddened to hear about the death of Rick Dickinson yesterday. Many will know him as the designer of the iconic ZX Spectrum computer in the 1980s, amongst other things.

To be honest, I never knew Rick’s part in the Sinclair journey back in the day. It was only in the past few years that I really appreciated his tremendous input. In particular recently, he had been heavily involved in designing the new body and keyboard for the upcoming ZX Spectrum Next that has been funded via Kickstarter. The information around Rick in that project made me more aware of the tremendous work he had done in the past. Also, via some interviews with him and posts on the Spectrum Next site, I gained an appreciation for his professionalism and attention to detail. I believe his recent work on the Spectrum Next was when he was in the middle of his struggles with cancer as well. Everyone has lauded the design of the Spectrum Next since it was revealed and it will certainly be a fitting legacy but a shame that he didn’t see it reach production.

Rick designed the ZX80 and the ZX81, the latter of which won a British Design Council Award. The hardware for the ZX Spectrum was designed by Richard Altwasser and Rick was responsible for its outward apperance including the famous rubber keys. Rick was involved in various other projects at Sinclair including the TV80 and the Sinclair QL.

I wish had been able to study Rick’s work in the past. Rick was an Industrial Designer and I studied Product Design Engineering at university. I only discovered last year that one of my university lecturers, Dagfinn Aksnes, had worked at Sinclair Research, primarily on the Sinclair FM Radio Watch and flat screen TV. If I’d known about the Sinclair connection back when I was at uni then I can imagine I would have been interrogating Dagfinn about his time at Sinclair and quite possibly studying Rick’s work as my final year project!

Sadly Rick died this week after a two year battle with cancer, that not many people knew about. Our thoughts are with Rick’s family at this time. Check out the gallery below of just some of Rick’s work. I believe Rick designed all the following products or prototypes. His Flickr account states, “Here’s a collection of some of the industrial designs I produced at Sinclair Research including development drawings, models, and also ideas that never became finished products.”

These photos were all taken from Rick’s Flickr account. Please check out the albums to see more photos and some comments from Rick.

Here’s a video of Rick speaking about a recent recreation of the ZX Spectrum.

Thanks for the great designs, Rick. They will be played on for years to come.