ZX81 Emulator on Android

Run ZX81 programs on your Android powered device.

[Zed Ex (Beta)]As more and more people turn to mobile and tablet devices for their entertainment and consumption needs, it is becoming harder to share my ZX81 preservation project. I remember how excited I was when I found a Java based emulator that would run my ZX81 programs on the web. Although Java and I haven’t always gotten along, I was happy to be able to show off my programs on the go with nothing more than a browser available. To my surprise, however, Java isn’t even part of the conversation when talking about those on-the-go OS’s like iOS and Android. All that effort isn’t of much use when a large portion of your audience can’t enjoy it. Fortunately, and much to my surprise, I ran across Zed Ex (Beta) in the Android Market. You can also find it on AppBrain.com.

Zed Ex is an excellent Sinclair ZX81 emulator for Android based devices. The z81 emulator provided the basis for Zed Ex, a staple ZX81 emulator on Unix based hardware. Although not embedded in my browser, it was pretty easy to download and load my ZX81 files and give it a try. It works wonderfully, supporting multiple orientations and various keyboard configurations. Although I would have preferred a more seamless browser experience, Zed Ex works well and I can take satisfaction in knowing I can still run ZX81 programs on my Android devices.

Sadly, a ZX81 emulator for iOS doesn’t exist. That means using my iPod is still out. Perhaps someday someone will create a JavaScript ZX81 emulator. Until then, iOS users can only look at the listings or screen shots. Sorry!

Update: As of August 2015, Zed Ex is no longer officially offered. You can still find APK versions, but I suspect that it will stop working at some point. It is fortunate that the Internet has moved on. There are a few JavaScript emulators that now work just fine, including the one I use on my site!

8 Comments on this article:


Written on Nov 18, 2014 by Niall Daly

where can I download the zed ex zx81 emulator for android. I tried 1 location but it would not install on my galaxy s4

re: emulator

Written on Nov 28, 2014 by Steven

I downloaded it from the Play Store. You could try AppBrain as well, but I don't believe it has been updated in quite some time. That might be why it isn't working.


Written on Aug 15, 2015 by Blubber

Where can I download it?
All links are dead 🙁

re: emulator

Written on Aug 18, 2015 by Steven

Sadly, it's been removed. This was the last thread on it at the ZX81 forums: hi zed-ex.

You could try searching for the APK and side load it. In fact, I think there is a link the forum thread above. However, be careful that it isn't malware instead. I still have it on my old tablet, but I've pretty much moved on to other emulators.

This worked on my phone

Written on Dec 17, 2015 by Anonymous


ZX81 app for iOS

Written on Jan 24, 2017 by Anonymous

There is now an emulator for iOS:

re: ZX81 app for iOS

Written on Mar 26, 2017 by Steven

Sadly, due to developer rules, it isn’t a complete emulator—just a bundle of programs. Interesting that you can find Z-code (of Infocom fame) emulators that can pull from web sites. Must be how the core emulation works, or Apple doesn’t care.

As an aside, there are a number of JavaScript ZX81 emulators now. I use one on my website and it works well enough in iOS, but I wouldn’t want to play any prolonged games with it.

re: re: ZX81 app for iOS

Written on Aug 27, 2017 by Anonymous

The Z files example is a good point. The excellent Frotz has been around on iOS for a while with the download functionality. This is a grey area. Some might say that loaded external image and PDF files are a form of interpreted code. So either it doesn't meet Apple criteria/thresholds or the web import functionality, which is not advertised in the Frotz store description, hasn't reached their radar and gone unchallenged.

There was a time when Apple pulled iOS apps discovered with any interpreter functionality combined with an interface for entering code. The Manomio Commodore 64 app being a prime example after they discovered the BASIC interface a few days after initial public App Store release. Then circa 2011 the rules changed to allow programs to be manually entered. However, other loaded programs files are still supposed to be bundled. Hence, App Store hosted apps like Speculator and ZX81 will let you enter code but have no functionality to load external tape files.

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