ZX81 Stuff

Looking for ZX81 games or ROMs? Scroll down the page a bit, to the links shown above the 'Using the emulator' heading.

Z81 Emulator

Squares and Fibonacci sequence

ZX80 Invaders: rename 'zx80_invaders.p' to 'zx80prog.p', start the emulator with 'xz81 -o' and do LOAD ('W') and press Enter. The keys are unknown; the number keys appear to do something ('1 and 0 = Fire, 3 and 8 = Right, 5 and 6 = Left' are my guesses). It took me a few minutes to type this program in from the listing on Retro Isle. Naturally, I made a few mistakes, so it didn't work the first time around - that's the fun of typing in listings!

(10-May-09) Today I had a go at writing an OpenEmbedded recipe to compile Russell Marks' 'Z81' emulator for Angstrom 2009.1, on the HP hx4700 iPAQ. I also tested it on the Sharp Zaurus SL-C860, with Angstrom 2007.12-r19. It installed and run okay, though ipkg needed a '-nodeps' option because the glibc version is different.

Here, you'll find the following files (listed with md5sums):

   39606  Sun May 10 05:18:22 2009  2e67c71eafc491b020300043326d3db3  z81_2.1-r1.1_armv5te.ipk
    6868  Sun May 10 05:18:22 2009  354973beeb2be6eb87a60b58f5c25c4f  z81-doc_2.1-r1.1_armv5te.ipk
    4096  Sun May 10 05:28:27 2009  e03bd725f98be45aac39c85f7fd41ce4  zx80.rom
    8192  Sun May 10 05:28:27 2009  db398d4e4e93a6d4dee3bfe146918219  zx81.rom
There used to be a ZX81 site called 'ftp.zx81.nl'. It's disappeared now, but I mirrored its contents before it went. This is a fairly large file, and you might want to use a download manager, as my site is quite slow.
13967827  Tue Oct 20 17:57:50 2009  1469c8a24615b1eb489b8a2e0592b056  ftp_zx81_nl.tar.gz (listing)

Using the emulator

The image on the left is of the ZX80 keyboard and the image on the right is of the ZX81. These images are included in the source code package (see below). They are rather small; for better images, have a look at Grant Searle's ZX80 pages at http://home.micros.users.btopenworld.com.

Function keys are used to control the emulator. Unfortunately, the hx4700 has no keyboard and the Zaurii don't have function keys, so it's not easy to use. I wrote an xmodmap file to turn Fn+<numeric key> into function keys, but this doesn't work with the Matchbox window manager which I am using. Matchbox might be reading the raw scancodes - not sure. Whatever it's doing, I'll need to figure out how to define the keys to make them compatible with this WM. It's possible to use x2x to control the emulation from another computer. The emulation is perfectly usable without the function keys.

With Angstrom 2007.12 on the Zaurus SL-C860, the key to the right of the blue 'Fn' key is Ctrl: use this key to access the letters on the middle of the ZX81 or ZX80 keys.

Sound doesn't work properly: I tested it on the Zaurus and just got a repetitive clicking sound. It might work on the hx4700.

The ROMs were not included in the original z81 package. I am including them here because I've seen many other sites including them in their emulators. Should anyone wish to contact me about copyright issues, see the contact page.

Original README

Russell Marks' original README is included here, and in the tarball.

z81    - a ZX81 and ZX80 emulator for the Linux console
xz81   - a ZX81 and ZX80 emulator for X

Z80 emulation and much X code from `xz80', copyright (C) 1994 Ian Collier.
ZX81/ZX80 support and svgalib front-end (C) 1995-2004 Russell Marks.

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at
your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
Foundation, 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307, USA.

ROM issues

While Amstrad allow free use (in emulators) of the Sinclair ROMs they
own the rights to, it seems they *don't* own the rights to the ZX80
and ZX81 ROMs. With the situation therefore being rather uncertain, I
can't include the ROMs. I will, however, note that they're available
from ftp://ftp.nvg.ntnu.no/pub/sinclair/roms :-), and that you require
at least the ZX81 ROM for the emulator to work.

[ftp.nvg.ntnu.no was down when I checked last (10-May-09) - Lex]

Alternatively, if you have a real ZX81 and can use zx81get (see
below), you could use `saverom' to get a copy of its ROM; see

If you put the ROM files in the directory you're installing from,
`make install' will install them for you.


The COPYING file contains a copy of the GPL described above.

NEWS and ChangeLog describe differences between versions.

GAMENOTES contains, well, notes on certain games. :-) (For example,
how to get the commonly-distributed version of QS Defender working.)

The games-etc directory contains some old PD games I wrote for the
ZX81, and a crude sound demo.


`z81' is a Sinclair ZX81 (also known as the Timex TS1000) emulator,
which can optionally emulate a ZX80. It uses svgalib. It supports most
programs and games. It supports the pseudo-hi-res mode, overscanned
modes, the ZX Printer, and both VSYNC-based and AY-3-891x-based sound.
It saves and loads programs in Xtender's .P format, but should also be
able to load .81 format files. (It works on the ones I've tried, but I
haven't tried many.)

`xz81' is a version of `z81' for X. It should work on non-Linux
systems, though it probably needs a relatively modern Unix box. xz81
should work on most displays - depths of 1/4/8/15/16/24/32-bit are
supported, though 4-bit is currently untested.

In addition to the emulators, z81 comes with `zx81get', a
(Linux-specific) program to transfer programs from ZX81 tapes using a
soundcard (or more precisely, via /dev/dsp). Loading from ZX81 tapes
is no easier than it ever was :-), but it seems to work fairly well.

Failing that, at the time of writing you can get various ZX81 programs


	(largely a nicer frontend for the above)



You'll need an ANSI C compiler. `gcc' is fine - as should anything
else be, these days.

Check/edit the Makefile first - it should be ok as-is for Linux.

Then, on non-Linux systems, or if you only want the X version, or if
you have no idea what I'm talking about here :-), do `make xz81' then
(as root) `make install'. That should compile/install only the X
version. If you're running Linux, you should note that only compiling
the X version means zx81get isn't compiled - do `make xz81 zx81get'
(then `make install') instead if you want that too.

If you have a Linux box with svgalib installed, just do `make' then
(as root) `make install'. That should compile z81/xz81 and zx81get,
and install them in /usr/local/bin.

Once z81 is installed, don't forget to read the man page.

About the programs in the 'games-etc' directory

A while back I wrote a few Tetris clones, one boring ordinary one, one
'hi-res' one, and a 1k version. I've bundled them with z81. See
'tetris.txt' for details. There's also mine81, a 'minesweeper' clone;
see 'mine81.txt' for more on that.

Having added support for AY-3-891x-based sound addons in 2.0, I
thought I might as well port a tune I wrote for the speccy (or rather,
that I ported to it - it's the ingame music from my 'zblast') as a
generic AY-thingy test. :-) That's 'aydemo.p'. At the moment it only
works on the Zon X.

They're all public domain (apart from the GPL'd tune in aydemo.p), so
you can do whatever you want with them. Source is in *-src*.tar.gz.

Some ZX81-related utils are included in tetris-src.tar.gz - these are
zx81send, which transfers a .P file to a real ZX81; and bin2p, which
converts a binary m/c program into a self-running .P file.

About 'xz81.xpm'

This is a slightly nicer colour version of xz81's `built-in' mono
icon. If you're using xz81 and your window manager supports loading
XPMs from files to use as icons, then you might want to use it instead
of the default icon. It's installed in the same directory as other z81
data files - /usr/local/lib/z81 by default.

History etc.

I decided to write a ZX81 emulator in 1995, having got a bit tired of
having to run dosemu to use Xtender 1.x, which aside from being for
DOS, and being shareware, was a good emulator. (sigh)

Thanks to the GNU GPL, I could use Ian Collier's Z80 emulator from
xz80, a ZX Spectrum emulator for X, and replace the X and Spectrum
support code with that for svgalib and the ZX81. (I wrote xz81 later.)
And I was writing this README the following evening. This is an
argument for open source. :-)

I give Ian the main author credit for z81, as the Z80 emulation is
much harder to do than emulating the ZX81's hardware and patching the
ROM for save/load etc. However, any correspondence regarding z81
should be to me, as Ian hasn't had anything else to do with it and,
being more of a speccy fan (I think), may not appreciate being hassled
by those of the ZX81 persuasion. :-)

Contacting me

You can email me at rus@svgalib.org.

Share and enjoy! 


The following files are useful for recompiling the package:

The original sources
154314  Sun May 10 05:26:49 2009  ./z81-2.1.tar.gz
My local.conf
  7512  Sun May 10 05:26:09 2009  ./local.conf
z81 Bitbake recipe
   904  Sun May 10 05:26:43 2009  ./z81_2.1.bb
To recompile it (relative to the OpenEmbedded root dir):
mkdir -p openembedded/recipes/z81/files
mv z81_2.1.bb openembedded/recipes/z81/
mv z81-2.1.tar.gz openembedded/recipes/z81/files/
mv local.conf build/conf/
cd build
bitbake -c clean z81
bitbake -v z81
The BitBake file needs some work and I am not happy about the /usr/lib path.

The following bit of this page was written last year (2008).

Sinclair ZX81 Kit Assembly Instructions

I recently went looking for a downloadable version of the Sinclair ZX81 assembly instructions. I found a Zip archive - containing GIFs - and converted them to a PDF, using this command:
for a in *.GIF; do cat ${a} | giftopnm; done | pnmtops | ps2pdf - zx81_assembly_instructions.pdf
Here are the files produced by that process.

ZX81 kit assembly instructions PDF
ZX81 schematic diagram

Due to the scaling process of ps2pdf, I've left the diagram as an image, although it also appears as the last page of the PDF.

Sorry for my tangled English but I haven't slept much lately.