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Amstrad made their name in the UK selling cheap electronic equipment in the UK, particularly all-in-one hi-fi audio systems and combined TVs and video recorders. At the time, most home computers in the UK and Europe used a TV as a screen and monitors were seen as an unnecessary and expensive extra. Spotting a possible gap in the market, Amstrad designed the CPC464, a computer that not only featured a built-in data cassette recorder, but also shipped with a choice of green screen or colour monitor.

Although the price of the CPC464 was higher than the Spectrum and Commodore 64, Amstrad were able use the sell the computer on the strength of the included monitor, warning parents that if they bought little Timmy any other type of computer, they would never get to see another episode of EastEnders again.

Arriving towards the end of the 8-bit computing boom, the Amstrad sold well in its home territory of the UK, as well as building up a sizable following in France. Amstrad also licenced the computer to a number of other companies in different territories – in Germany, for example, the Amstrad range were sold under the Schneider name.

Amstrad CPC TV commercials from around the world

The Games

The vast bulk of games were conversions from the Spectrum or Commodore 64.

The most famous character in Amstrad gaming was Amsoft’s Roland, who starred in a series of re-named conversions from other computers, as well as ‘new’ games specially written for the Amstrad, such as Roland in Time which was clearly influenced by the (originally) Spectrum game, Jet Set Willy

People

Ultimate Play The Game

(link coming soon)
Ultimate converted a number of their Spectrum classics to the Amstrad.

Romik Software

(link coming soon)
When you look back, it’s all too easy to focus on the big names software scene and forget about some of the smaller players. Romik were never going to win any awards for quality, but they supported a wide range of 8-bit computer formats and were a well-known name during the early-to-mid 1980s.

The Bitmap Brothers

(link coming soon)
The Bitmap Brothers released a conversion of their Amiga and Atari ST classic Xenon for the Amstrad.

Links

TACGR

The Amstrad CPC games resource features links to game downloads and reviews, as well as lots of other Amstrad-related goodness.

Major events

1984
464 launch prices:
£239 with green-screen monitor
£349 with colour monitor
1985
6128 launched
1990
6128+ (£329) and 464+ (£229) launched

Emulators

Mac OS X

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iOS

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OUYA/Android

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Features

Amstrad CPC464

Available with either a green screen or colour monitor
Built-in data-cassette deck
4MHz Z80 processor
64K RAM, 32k ROM
Graphics: 27 colours, 640×200 screen resolution
‘Real’ full-travel keyboard

Amstrad CPC664

Short-lived upgraded version of the 464, featuring a 3″ disk drive instead of the 464’s data-cassette. The 664 was almost instantly replaced by the 6128.

Amstrad CPC6128

128K RAM
Built-in 3″ disk drive
Available with a choice of green screen or colour monitor
4MHz Z80 processor
Graphics: 27 colours, 640×200 screen resolution
‘Real’ full-travel keyboard

Amstrad also released the CPC464 Plus and CPC6128 Plus, which both included a cartridge port allowing users to play GX4000 games. The lucky beasts.