Author Topic: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD  (Read 14607 times)

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Offline mr_lou

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Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« on: 14:50, 03 April 11 »
I just received an e-mail from someone asking me if I'm interested in an Amstrad PC 1640 ECD.

I have no idea what it is. But isn't it just a regular PC from that time, running DOS? I mean, it doesn't run CPC stuff, right?
What is an ECD display?

Offline Shredder11

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #1 on: 15:01, 03 April 11 »
I expect you have already Googled for more info and maybe read this page, but here it is anyway...

http://www.old-computers.com/MUSEUM/computer.asp?c=19&st=1


I wonder how similiar the GEM GUI interface is compared to the Atari ST?
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Offline Bryce

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #2 on: 15:18, 03 April 11 »
I think ECD just stood for Enhanced Colour Display, nothing fancy, just your usual marketing blah.

Bryce.

Offline mr_lou

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #3 on: 15:41, 03 April 11 »
mkay, so as far as I can tell, I'm not interested.

I wasn't sure if maybe they had some CPC stuff built into them.

Offline Gryzor

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #4 on: 20:24, 03 April 11 »
Well, they had made the MegaPC, wouldn't it have been super-cool to have a CPCPC?

Offline mr_lou

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #5 on: 20:31, 03 April 11 »
Well, they had made the MegaPC, wouldn't it have been super-cool to have a CPCPC?

Um...  can it run CPC stuff? Then sure.

Offline Ynot.zer0

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #6 on: 20:53, 03 April 11 »
Um...  can it run CPC stuff? Then sure.


I have a couple of these in my attic.... they run Amstrad DOS 3.x - totally not compatible with anything CPC related.
I have Microsoft Windows v1.03 running on one of the machines!!! (very retro!)


If anyone manages to get hold of a working 20Mb HDD from one of these machines - PM me, I'd be very interested in purchasing it! (Mine are all dead..... and seems a bit much to buy a complete unit when I only need the HDD).




Offline Bryce

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #7 on: 21:08, 03 April 11 »
What type of drive were they, MFM ? or were they already IDE ? I might be able to get my hands on some if you let me know what type you need.

Bryce.

Offline Ynot.zer0

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #8 on: 21:15, 03 April 11 »
What type of drive were they, MFM ? or were they already IDE ? I might be able to get my hands on some if you let me know what type you need.

Bryce.


They are MFM


Offline Bryce

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #9 on: 13:56, 04 April 11 »
Hmm, I asked around, but nobody seems to have a working MFM. Sorry. The other alternative would be an old ISA IDE board or an old Soundblaster with IDE. That way you could connect a more modern drive?

Bryce.

Offline MacDeath

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #10 on: 00:10, 05 April 11 »
PC1640 was basically an EGA PC1512 (and a "real EGA" instead of the custom CGA on PC1512) and the usual +128K RAM. (640K...)

So I think  it's a "mundane" PC 8086 in 8mhz.

The casing is quite similar to PC1512's.
Lots of pieces in common.

The funny stuff : the 2 batteries for the clock you could put under the screen on top of the central unit/casing.


Quote
I wasn't sure if maybe they had some CPC stuff built into them.
If those Amstrad PC could freely chose the ink from the  Palette in 320x200 mode and if those got an AY soundchip... They would have kicked Atari ST"s Ass !!!


PC1512 was lame because CGA is lame.
And they even got critisized becausse it wasn't even a 100% compatible CGA (but actually an upgraded one, capable of a 640x200x16 mode... with the full CGA palette diplayed...)

EGA present on 1640 was great... my first PC was an EGA 286 in 8-12mHz with 640K and HD 5"1/4 and 3"1/2 disk drives... and 80Meg HardDiskDrive (colour monitor).

But again EGA was lame actually because le lowresolution mode : 320x200x16... good... like AtariST ?
well, not !
You couldn't set inks from the 64 colours palette in this mode but had to stick to the 16 colour CGA palette (of course they are all at once...)


Anyway, provided you stick to the HighRez EGA...
The 640x350x16/64 is great.

Be it for GUI or to actually do graphics/art.

                                                                                                                                                             
You have to understand that those Video standards were designed by Bigblue IBM "mainframeelephant"...

their approach to video display was so...well...IBM (=I Beat Myself)

Even Amstrad did better than CGA with the Amstrad CPC.

Quote
Well, they had made the MegaPC, wouldn't it have been super-cool to have a CPCPC?
an Expension card for PC...
featuring a Z80... ? an AY soundchip ?
Perhaps it's own CRTC-GA/ASIC ?
« Last Edit: 00:41, 05 April 11 by MacDeath »

Offline MaV

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #11 on: 01:53, 05 April 11 »
Quote from: MacDeath
Even Amstrad did better than CGA with the Amstrad CPC.

True.

However the year the CPC464 was released was the same year IBM ATs with EGA saw the light of day. Wouldn't it be more fitting to compare graphics capabilities of these two? In the end it's the price that made the difference to us.

CGA was 1981 (judging by the color palette, the engineer must have been drunk the day he came up with these.)

It's a pity though. When EGA finally became affordable, VGA was already gaining momentum. So although it featured some nice specs back in the days, it didn't stand a chance.

The Amstrad PCs' design wasn't half that bad. It certainly looked different, and the 8086 was faster than an equally clocked 8088. RTC and mice were a rarity in those days in other PC XTs, and everyone of those came with their own driver.
IIRC, you could even use standard MS-DOS with the Amstrad PC.

@Shredder11: GEM on the Atari and the PC seems to be virtually the same. The DRI-Version (on PCs) had to undergo changes because of a lawsuit with apple. GEM on the ST was not part of the lawsuit, so Atari's port to the ST might be more true to the original look and feel. That said, the last time I dabbled in either version was more than 20 years ago. Interesting fact: the GEM source is under GPL now.

MaV
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Offline TFM

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #12 on: 04:26, 05 April 11 »
CGA was 1981 (judging by the color palette, the engineer must have been drunk the day he came up with these.)

MaV

Not drunk... they must have had that heavy stuff... just to see all the colors... like here:
 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9uYEM2osYQ
 
or here:
 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL2nJrEqx2k&feature=related
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Offline MacDeath

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #13 on: 08:06, 05 April 11 »
The problem with CGA... you cannot really set your 4 inks (colours) as you wish from the palette.

The 16 colours palette is not bad for a 16 colour palette, even compaired to a C64 or a speccy...
But so many colours couldn't really be used actually... in games (weren't...)

Compaired to a CPC... CGA only have one advantage... 2 greys...


EGA on the other hand cannot really be compaiured to a CPC.

CGA = "8bit" (8086...)XT
EGA = 16bit : 286AT

EGA was "shitfull" because of its heritage from the CGA.
And because IBM was notorious for being overcomplicated on trivial matters...

So yeah, in 320x200x16/16 mode, EGA was decent, but the fixed palette was rather ...fixed.

You had only 2 shades of each colours...
No possibilities to get awesome gradiants, while the 64palette would actually enables a lot of good stuff...

in 640x350x16/64 mode on the other hand, the Highresolution mixed with a decent and complete palette ...
compairable to the step above CPC's RGB cube... 4x4x4 instead of 3x3x3...

Could really allow stuff far better than what an Atari ST could.


I remember Fighter Bomber.

I had it on my PC (the Amstrad Port looks quite decent for an 8 bit...).

Honestly, I don't think Amiga or ST could do better than my 12mhz AT....

Also... this game featured one of the only HiRes EGA graphic as intro page.


This is not the EGA version, but it was displayed on my computer in 640x350x16... awesome.

Also those PC were actually 16bit concerning games.

You could get Populous or Might and Magic3 on those...
Even Monkey Island, be it CGA, EGA or VGA...

Might and Magic 3 also support a 640x200x16/64 EGA mode... awesome.

All those games didn't exist on CPC...


So yeah, EGA is a great standard to get it Retro-style.

http://members.chello.at/theodor.lauppert/computer/cga.htm
http://members.chello.at/theodor.lauppert/games/ega.htm
those 2 pages (and this site) is great concerning the various 80's computers.

CGA palette : same philosophy as speccy's palette, yet better...

They cheated with the dark Yellow in order to get a true Brown, but some clones or series were having a DarkYellow (comparable to CPC's "Yellow") instead of this brown...
Oh yeah... no orange.

EGA true palette :


Notice that while CPC's grey is strictly in the middle, those 2 greys are 33% and 66%...sort of...
The same is true with perhaps all colours appart the angles of the 4x4x4 cube which are something like the angles of the 3x3x3 cube (CPC).
As a result, CPC's palette is always in the middle of those gradiants.

EGA has even more "almost same colours" colours as CPC's, and definitely the same colourfull feeling.


Anyway last summer we did a lot of MonkeyIsland's mockups...
And to be fair the CPC can really do as well as EGA in super CGA mode...concerning colours choices... with only exception of greys...

As CPC has the good old 6 basic colours in 3 gradiants... + extra unique colours... so you can choose betterly according to the theme of the graphics..

But EGA could compensate with good dithering thanks to being a 320x200x16...
So just imagine with free inks choices...


on another topic, The CPC palette can be "stretched" into an EGA palette... but also into a 5x5x5 palette...
Considering regular 50% dithering give an acceptable result.

« Last Edit: 10:41, 06 April 11 by MacDeath »

Offline ssg

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #14 on: 15:04, 05 April 11 »
This was the first computer with a color monitor I had put my hands on at my brother's faculty lab, probably in 1986 or 87. It was a fantastic experience, especially the fast 16-color text mode. First, I didn't know it was color and thought it was grey-only due to dull DOS screen. Later it was a surprise to see apps like dBase and PE (IBM's Editor) showing colors.

It had 20MB hard drive too and having all apps together in multiple directories was also amazing. A big improvement over two-floppy drive PC1512.

I still remember the caps lock key with a red light on the top.

Offline Gryzor

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #15 on: 10:27, 06 April 11 »
Seeing as the CGA was released in '81 the palette should come as no surprise. Do you really not remember the colors in fashion back then? :D

Concerning the batteries in the case, the same happened with the MegaST I think!

Offline MaV

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #16 on: 19:37, 06 April 11 »
Seeing as the CGA was released in '81 the palette should come as no surprise. Do you really not remember the colors in fashion back then? :D

That's so true. But still, I expect those on clothes, not on the screen. ;)
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Offline MaV

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #17 on: 20:36, 06 April 11 »
Quote from: MacDeath
The problem with CGA... you cannot really set your 4 inks (colours) as you wish from the palette.

THAT was the reason, CGA was killed by the other contenders.

Quote
CGA = "8bit" (8086...)XT
EGA = 16bit : 286AT

Got me here. ;)
I upgraded the first PC I had with an 8bit EGA card. It worked, but its speed was not really satisfying. IIRC, my EGA card had 0 wait states while the CGA and Hercules threw 1 or 2 in; screen size and therefore bigger video ram killed the performance.

Quote
So yeah, in 320x200x16/16 mode, EGA was decent, but the fixed palette was rather ...fixed.

-snip-

They cheated with the dark Yellow in order to get a true Brown, but some clones or series were having a DarkYellow (comparable to CPC's "Yellow") instead of this brown...
Oh yeah... no orange.

-snip-

But EGA could compensate with good dithering thanks to being a 320x200x16...
So just imagine with free inks choices...

Thanks for the lectures on color (honestly!). It seems you're the go to guy on color matters. ;)

Back in the 80s I had a CPC 6128 with a green monitor, which is probably the main reason why I never caught up on that later. I preferred hires back then. Now, once the s-video modulator is ready, I'll experience the real CPC in all its color.

I can remember that some cga games  - I can't remember which - asked me whether is see brown or yellow cubes during configuration.

Would you say the fixed palette for 320x200 EGA caused the EGA PC games to be inferior to the Amiga and Atari games? I always felt they lacked something, the fixed palette explains this. Since I preferred hires graphics back then, I never looked up the reason.

MaV
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Offline MacDeath

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #18 on: 22:06, 06 April 11 »
In this time, many 16bit games were ported from ST...

As a result Amiga was sometimes "underused" as it could handle 32colours... or upgraded actually to use the amiga specs.

PC version, well... you could port pixel to pixel on PC as the 320x200 was the same as on AtariST.
But as the guy told on the site on PC old graphic cards... a lot were lost in translation.

Some French companies used this well...
Atari ST graphics, turned into CPC and CGA version with 4 colours...
And EGA version too in 320x200x16...

But going from a 512palette (ST) to fixed 16colours... erf...


exemple of such french games ?
 perhaps skateball.

http://www.cpc-power.com/index.php?page=detail&onglet=jaquette&num=1949

Iron lord
http://www.mobygames.com/game/iron-lord/screenshots

Night Hunter
http://www.mobygames.com/game/nighthunter/screenshots

Mach3...
http://www.mobygames.com/game/mach-3/screenshots

Disc perhaps... yet it is mode0 on CPC...
http://www.mobygames.com/game/disc/screenshots

Offline MaV

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #19 on: 02:07, 07 April 11 »
Some French companies used this well...
Atari ST graphics, turned into CPC and CGA version with 4 colours...
And EGA version too in 320x200x16...

But going from a 512palette (ST) to fixed 16colours... erf...


exemple of such french games ?

Dash is a prime example how much better VGA graphics were compared to EGA. The ST and PC pictures look identical.

Night Hunter looked decent on the CPC in mode 1.
The Amiga and ST versions are ok, while the PC EGA version suffered a bit.

Iron Lord is the prime example of PC EGA ugliness. Comparing it to Amiga and ST, there's only 2 greens which don't fit, and the landscape is sprinkled with ugly brown and yellow dots. There's no question, they did a good job converting the graphics, but the EGA color space can't cope with certain combinations.

I've never played Mach 3 on the CPC. The colors again look decent, much better than the CGA one. I've played Mach 3 on the PC at school back in the 80s. The digitized sound on the PC's speakers sounds fabulous. The Atari ST Version was by far the best.

Also interesting: The colors of Mach 3 on the CPC and the PC CGA were chosen because they we're comparable. Yet the CGA color is much to bright, while the CPC has a darker, "smoother" shade. That's the problem with these CGA colors. Most of them  were too bright, and not comfortable to look at.

(What's that? Either the MSX version was a cheap speccy port, or MSX computers suffered from the same color clash as the speccy!  :o Our CPC wasn't the only one having problems with bad speccy ports, it seems. Even stranger than that, the CPC Mode 1 version is NOT a speccy port.)

MaV
« Last Edit: 02:17, 07 April 11 by MaV »
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Offline MacDeath

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #20 on: 02:51, 07 April 11 »
Concerning those grench games, Amstrad actually had some Thomson ports...
No kidding...

http://christophe.bray.free.fr/informatique/thomson_TO8.htm

First generation of Thomson (MO5/TO7) were having Speccy ports (see Game Over... green berets) because they had only character attribut mode (like MSX1 actually) but later generation : MO6/TO8 had the same video modes as an Amstrad PLUS... in addition to the legacy Attributed mode.
4096 palette...
And also quite decent RAM (MO6 = 128K, TO8 = 256K !!!)

So the game were actually better on TO8... except that... this computer (TO8) was by far more expensive than a CPC6128...
macked any Sound chip (buzzer) and used a 1mhz 65xx clone cpu... (68xx I think)
Also had no hardware support for sprites and scrollings (like good old CPC of course).


France... funny place to be in the 80's...

exemple :
Bivouac (chamonix challenge).

Thomson TO8 :



CPC :


Same pixels as CPC but same colours as an ST/Amiga...


Anyway, I wish the Amstrad PLUS would come as "equiped as the TO8 concerning Mouse and RAM...(for the same price a an Amstrad CPC of course.)

Quote
What's that? Either the MSX version was a cheap speccy port, or MSX   computers suffered from the same color clash as the speccy!  :o   Our CPC wasn't the only one having problems with bad speccy ports, it   seems. Even stranger than that, the CPC Mode 1 version is NOT a speccy   port.
European companies "couldn't into" MSX1...
French companies couldn't into speccyporks (well, perhaps a few in the beginings...) yet used the Mode1 a lot.

Mode1 =/= Speccyport...

Well, Sapiens per exemple was a thomson port, lol...
« Last Edit: 02:58, 07 April 11 by MacDeath »

Offline Sykobee (Briggsy)

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #21 on: 22:47, 07 April 11 »
Would you say the fixed palette for 320x200 EGA caused the EGA PC games to be inferior to the Amiga and Atari games? I always felt they lacked something, the fixed palette explains this. Since I preferred hires graphics back then, I never looked up the reason.


Definitely.


It turned out with a suitably large range of potential colours, and 32-colours in your palette, that you could do some beautiful graphics by setting up a few colour ranges (e.g., a range of greens, a range of blues, a range of greys and some spot colours) and end up with stylised, awesome graphics.


But the Amiga also had the copper, and that really was unfair. It's like putting a Yugo up against a Ferrari. 32 colours? How about switching to dual-playfields, 8 colours each, and then changing all 16 colours on every scanline to get smooth gradients, water effects, etc. Lionheart. Look at the YouTube longplay. I remember and editorial in ACU having a go at the 512KB 16-bit machines once - laughing at the idea of 1000+ screen Jet Set Willy clones. :-)

Offline Sykobee (Briggsy)

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #22 on: 22:58, 07 April 11 »
Iron Lord is the prime example of PC EGA ugliness. Comparing it to Amiga and ST, there's only 2 greens which don't fit, and the landscape is sprinkled with ugly brown and yellow dots. There's no question, they did a good job converting the graphics, but the EGA color space can't cope with certain combinations.


Iron Lord was very golden on the CPC! Looked great though - if you imagined you were in a plague ridden land of dying everything.


Could a simple palette change have been considered between the map and non-map screens!

Quote
I've never played Mach 3 on the CPC. The colors again look decent, much better than the CGA one. I've played Mach 3 on the PC at school back in the 80s. The digitized sound on the PC's speakers sounds fabulous. The Atari ST Version was by far the best.


Atari ST version has a far better loading screen.



As for Disc - the CPC looks best because the colours are more saturated, and that's clearly what a game like this needs! The other versions are too dithered and not bold enough with the palette.

Offline MaV

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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #23 on: 00:21, 08 April 11 »
Concerning those grench games, Amstrad actually had some Thomson ports...
No kidding...
When you think about it, ports were quite frequent in the 80s. Speccy's games ported to the Amstrad, to the Thomson, the MSXs. Thomson games ported to Amstrad. Atari ST games ported to Amigas, then to PC. Ugh! One might actually conclude nowadays that most of the games in the 80s were stuck in mediocrity, when back then we were really excited about them.

Quote
So the game were actually better on TO8... except that... this computer (TO8) was by far more expensive than a CPC6128...
macked any Sound chip (buzzer) and used a 1mhz 65xx clone cpu... (68xx I think)
Also had no hardware support for sprites and scrollings (like good old CPC of course).
1MHz and no proper video game chip is no good sign. But I would not call the 6809 a clone of the 65xx line. Thomson's chip really had a very nice instruction set, much better than the 6502's. It can couple two 8 bit to one 16 bit register just like the Z80, nice index registers, and 8x8 bit multiplication (!). I checked on those processors a couple of years ago. It's too bad they haven't been used more often (and with higher clock frequencies).
The TO8 specs sound alright - ok, sound is maybe not the right word in "lieu" with a TO8 ;).

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France... funny place to be in the 80's...
Hehe. You should do another thread in the off top section explaining some of the peculiarities of france in the 80s. I like to reminisce about the good old days. :)

MaV
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Re: Amstrad PC 1640 ECD
« Reply #24 on: 00:51, 08 April 11 »
But the Amiga also had the copper, and that really was unfair. It's like putting a Yugo up against a Ferrari. 32 colours? How about switching to dual-playfields, 8 colours each, and then changing all 16 colours on every scanline to get smooth gradients, water effects, etc. Lionheart. Look at the YouTube longplay. I remember and editorial in ACU having a go at the 512KB 16-bit machines once - laughing at the idea of 1000+ screen Jet Set Willy clones. :-)

I'm trying to stick to 8 bit computers only. Posts like yours make me rethink my position. ;) I'd like to get ... no space left here ... but think of the graphics ... no, you've got enough here already ... just one more ... *sigh*


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Iron Lord was very golden on the CPC! Looked great though - if you   imagined you were in a plague ridden land of dying everything.
No, no, no. The colors remind me of autumn - eternal autumn. ;)
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