Image from: wallpapers for World of Spectrum
I've been working as a programmer for 11 years now, and it's partly due to the ZX Spectrum 48K that my dad got me at some point in the 80s. I wanted to learn to program it, and the fact it booted straight into BASIC encouraged a lot of experimentation.
Computers don't work like that anymore, but some people want them to.
People find it surprising that there was an influential British computer, but the truth is there were many computers that had limited releases in their native territories; some of them used fascinating Russian Zilog Z80 clones and were compatible with Sinclair's machine.
Looking back, it's easy to think that the 80s saw a more diverse era in terms of home computer hardware. However, if you consider that the Z80 was actually an improved implementation of Intel's 8080, and was used in everything from the Game Boy to the Amstrad CPC, then it's debatable whether things have really changed in terms of hardware diversity.
The biggest change in computing since the era of the Spectrum is societal -- we decided to start connecting our computers together on a global scale, and putting connected devices in our pockets. Now computers really are a canvas for unrestricted creativity.