home  >  Zeaker  >  Zeaker history 23 February 2024

Back in late November 1982, after looking at a Hebot-II which had a useless dome ending a couple of inches above the ground/table top, I decided to make something better, with proper obstacle detectors, and made the original Black Zeaker running from a ZX-81.

In those days Computer Fairs were common low key events and probably it was in Westminster Central Hall, London, that I had both the Black Zeaker and MM3 on a table with a note saying they may be available as kits.

Colne Robotics had a stand at the Fair and Andrew Leonard who was the head of the research lab at Colne came by and said they could be interested in making the kits and he thought Zeaker was the best choice.

I agreed to meet John Reekie who owned Colne Robotics and after talking (in a pub) we agreed that I would make a production prototype and produce engineering drawings and Colne would pay royalties on sales. We shook hands and that was that.

I then drew up engineering drawings for Zeaker and prototyped everything including etching the PCBs on the kitchen window sill. John arranged for Zeaker to feature in Practical Electronics and I wrote the article.
Zeaker was quite successful selling to hobbyists and into education and about 700 were sold before the Colne board sacked John Reekie and tried to move upmarket with a big robot-arm before going into liquidation.
I had no problem getting royalties from John but after he was sacked it was like trying to get blood out of a stone for continuing sales of Zeaker.

A little on the Armdroid Arm -
John Reekie had been selling slimming pads - those that gave you electric shocks - before he bought a Mitsubishi(?) robot arm in the USA and when he got back to England he, as he said, poured money over a the head of man who had a local engineering firm for him to clone the arm (is that where the Colne came from?).