R.I.P. Rick Dickinson, a true icon of British design

RIP Rick Dickinson 1955-2018

Today I learned the awful and sad news that visionary and legendary designer passed away on the 24th April. For those not aware of his work, Rick was behind the design of multiple Sinclair machines including the ZX80, ZX81, ZX Spectrum and Sinclair QL. He also designed the Cambridge Z88 after leaving Sinclair Research and setting up his own company Dickinson Associates back in 1986 and has continued in the industry ever since.

Rick joined Sinclair Research in 1979 full time after completing his degree at Newcastle Polytechnic and his design of the ZX81 won a British Design Council award in 1981. He would go on to design probably the most famous of his designs, the ZX Spectrum, which was released in 1982. The Speccy is a truly iconic computer - famous for it's rubber keys and compact design, it is still remembered fondly in the retro community and for a lot of people, when Rick's name is mentioned, it's the first thing that springs to mind. Something he was proud of, I'm sure. 

The design award winning ZX81

Not only was the ZX81 a winner for design, it was also the computer a lot of modern day programmers cut their teeth on. Many programmers, gamers and other IT professionals will state that the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum is what got them into computers in the first instance, and given the influence the Spectrum had on the UK games industry, you could say that Rick had no small part in UK's success in this market. 

Having been in close contact with Rick recently in part of his involvement with the Spectrum35 Anniversary last year, World of Spectrum owner Lee Fogarty, had this to say after learning of Rick's passing:

"I read with great sadness today that Rick Dickinson passed away on Tuesday. Many won't have heard of him, but a great many more have enjoyed his work as the designer of the majority of the Sinclair range of computers.

Rick contacted me six years ago, and seemed surprised that there was a great deal of interest in every aspect of his early work! More recently, I was delighted that he had agreed to attend our Spectrum 35th party in Cambridge last October, and spent a lot of time with photos as well as a (very) long talk and presentation for the guests.

What always came across during various chats was how humble and amazed he was about the impact his designs had. He was very passionate about his work, and continued creating award winning designs until very recently.

What we didn't know in October was how ill he was. He clearly wasn't well, but we didn't know he had withdrawn from social activities due to cancer, so making the commitment to the S35 event is all the more special to those that attended.

RIP Rick."
The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Next - another beautiful design by Rick.
Back in 2016 it was announced that Rick was going to be involved in the design of the ZX Spectrum Next. The initial images of his designs for the machine blew me away and left many with jaws ajar. Slick and cool were words that came to my mind; picking up roughly where the toasty left off though with sharp lines, beautiful looking keyboard and his new interpretation of the famous Speccy stripe - perfection. The creators of the Next have confirmed that the machine will keep Rick's original design and a tribute will be added to the Nexts' manual in Rick's memory.

Rick was truly an iconic designer and on top of that, a true gentlemen coming from the tributes that are being made to the great man himself from various sources, friends and colleagues. Even those who did not have the chance to meet him always had a great respect for him, myself included, and many have been influenced by his design of the machines themselves of which have created many great memories for Sinclair fans around the world.

RIP Rick - a true icon of British design. 

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