The Executive was launched in September 1972 at the price of GB£79.95 plus VAT, equivalent to £970 in 2016 when adjusted for inflation. This was around half the price of comparable calculators, but still twice the average weekly wage. It was the first pocket calculator, and the first to be mass-produced, and its introduction to the market coincided with a number of other companies entering the calculator market.
Clive Sinclair, reckoning that the market for "executive toys" was not especially sensitive to price, ordered components for 100,000 calculators. The Executive was highly successful, and made 1.8 million pounds profit for Sinclair Radionics. It was well received by both domestic and foreign markets, and US$1.5 million worth of Executives were sold in Japan in early 1974 at six times the price of Japanese models. The parts, consisting of the TMS1802 chip, 22 transistors, 50 resistors and 17 capacitors, cost close to GB£10, compared with a sale price of close to GB£80. The Executive impressed the engineers at Texas Instruments, who had used the same chip to produce a longer and wider calculator that was over three times as thick and a great deal more expensive. In 1974, sales of the Executive were greater than GB£2.5 million, and Sinclair was producing 100,000 calculators each month, of which 55% were exported.
A Sinclair Executive purchased by a Russian diplomat exploded in his breast pocket, allegedly leading to an official Soviet investigation. It was found that it had been left on by accident, leading to a current drain on the batteries that overheated them until they burst.