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CPC

1,928 bytes added, 07:34, 29 September 2006
== Introduction ==
The Amstrad CPC (Colour Personal Computer) series was a series of 8-bit home computers that were manufactured by the British company [[Amstrad]] between 1984 and 1993 (?). The CPC, like most contemporary home micros, had an integrated computer-in-a-keyboard design. Also incorporated in the keyboard was the tape recorder or disk disc drive.
In general what Amstrad aimed for was to offer a completely integrated solution at a low price. Just as with Amstrad's stereo towers before, A.Alan M. Sugar wanted to provide a solution with as few separate components as possible, with as few cables as possible and at as low a price as possible - so as to make the product attractive to the layman who could theoretically buy it off the back of a track (TM of Amstrad's early practices (eh?)). As a resultA truck driver, he chose ready off-the-shelf components and used low-cost production methods in an effort to bring manufacturing costs down. He also included a monitor to connect the computer to - a move which, while raising the priceunfamiliar with computers, was designed to free often cited as the home TV from little brats hogging it for a dose of Ikari Warriors while Eastenders was on. This concept appealed to users and proved to be a successCPC's target market.
The combination of low costAs a result, integrated design, good manufacturing quality and some impressive features like CP/M Amstrad chose ready off-the-shelf components and used low-cost production methods in an 80effort to bring manufacturing costs down. They also included a monitor to connect the computer to -column display mode (a move which , while raising the price, was lacking in designed to free the competition) home TV from little brats hogging it for a dose of Ikari Warriors while Eastenders was on. This concept appealed to users and proved to be a success both with home users and small businesses, and Amstrad went on to sell millions of CPCs.
HoweverThe combination of low cost, integrated design, because of its use good manufacturing quality and some impressive features like CP/M and an 80-column display mode (lacking in much of the Z80competition, which was also used in particularly the Sinclair models, many of the games found on the CPC were direct ports of the ZX Spectrum versions. As and Commodore 64) proved to be a result, they failed to take advantage of the CPC's extra capabilities, leaving success both with home users and reviewers with a bad taste in their mouthsmall businesses, a situated that lasted for the entire life and Amstrad went on to sell millions of the machinesCPCs.
The CPC's operating system Because of its use of the Z80, which was called [[AMSDOS]] (Amstrad's Disk Operating System) and was included also used in the Sinclair models, some of the earliest games found on a ROM chip the CPC were fairly direct ports of 48KB. Also in ROM there was the Locomotive BASIC interpreter Spectrum versions which made failed to take advantage of the CPC very fast 's extra capabilities. The amount of Spectrum ports has often been overstated by those who wish to knock the machine, and in BASIC operationsfact formed a comparatively small number of largely unsuccessful games. Nonetheless, compared to other contemporary machinesthose that were published left users and reviewers with a bad taste in their mouth.
At its core, the CPC combined a standard 4MHz Z80A with off-the-shelf components and a custom Gate Array chip. The [[firmware]] comprised two 16k ROMs (combined onto one 32k chip): one was effectively the operating system, the other the fast and flexible [[Locomotive BASIC]] interpreter. All machines except the original 464 would also include a further 16k ROM (on a separate chip), the AMSDOS disc operating system. In all, there were three basic 'classic' models, the CPC [[464]], [[664]] and [[6128]], ; plus two more short-lived later [[Plus|advanced]] models, the CPC464+ 464 Plus and the 6128+Plus. A final iteration was the [[Plus|GX4000]] games machine based on the CPC+ computers. ''See also: [[CPC Prototypes]].''
See also: [[CPC Prototypes]]
== The 464 ==
[[Image:464.png|right|thumb|250px|Amstrad CPC [[464]] with colour monitor]]
First came the CPC464, the father of the CPC family, released during the summer of 1984 (with production ceasing in 1990). This model used an integrated tape recorder and used offered 64KB or of RAM. It sold around 2 two million units in Europe and, technologically-wise, was more impressive than the ZX Spectrum and on a similar level with the Commodore c64 64. (with the One notable exception of was the sound chip; while the c64 C64 employed the splendid custom SID chip, Amstrad opted for a generic sound chip - AY-3-8912 - with unremarkable features). That said, the firmware of the CPC was leagues ahead of the C64.) At its core was a [[Z80]] clocked at 4MHz - though screen display considerations, and the particular design of the Gate Array limited this to an effective 3.3MHz in practice - while the display was managed by the 6845 CRTC along with a gate-array chip.
The CPC464 sported a palette of 27 colours and three distinct resolutions: 160x200x16 colours (mode 0), 320x200x4 colours (mode 1) and 640x200x2 colours (mode 2, 80-column mode).
 
== The 472 ==
[[image:CPC_472_es.jpg|right|thumb|200px|Spanish Amstrad CPC 472]]
The CPC 472 was a spanish Spanish version of the CPC 464 with an additional 8 KB , non-functional 8KB RAM. A Spanish law required that every computer with up to 64KB should have extra keys for the Spanish language, or an extra tax would be levied. So Amstrad soldered in an extra 8kb which was not, however, usable by the machine since it was not connected to anything else. Later on Amstrad released a 472 with a proper Spanish keyboard. After the rule changed there was also a CPC472 with non-Spanish keys available for a very short time. The CPC 472 is very rare.
The reason Amstrad released a special version for the spanish market was a law that said that every computer with up to 64kb should adhere to some rules - namely, have extra keys for the spanish language otherwise an extra tax would be levied. So Amstrad soldered in an extra 8kb which was not, however, usable by the machine since it was not connected to anything else. Later on Amstrad released a 472 with a proper spanish keyboard and the 8 extra kB as well.
 
After the rule changed there was also a CPC 472 with non-spanish keys available for a very short time. The CPC 472 with spanish or british keyboard is very very rare.
== The 664 ==
[[Image:cpc664.jpg|left|thumb|200px|Amstrad CPC [[664]] with colour monitor in 80-column display mode]]
A few months later In June 1985, Amstrad took the initial design and, building upon the same idea, removed the tape recorder and replaced it with a disc drive, using the interface and mechanism of same hardware sold as the external Floppy Disk Drive it was selling up to then[[DDI-1]] add-on for 464 owners. The result: the CPC664. Sporting a less colourful and easier-to-type-on keyboard, the CPC664 appealed as a more serious machine and set off to become proved a success, especially due to its quite fast 3", 180KB/side drive.
* ''[http://www.gondolin.org.uk/hchof/reviews/yc-cpc664.html Your Computer review of the CPC664]''
== The 6128 ==
[[Image:Cpc6128.jpg|right|thumb|200px|Amstrad CPC [[6128]] with colour monitor]]
Shortly afterwards, Amstrad launched the CPC6128 for the American market only, through its distributor [[Indescomp]]. The new machine sported 128k of memory and a still more sober appearance, but was otherwise identical to the 664.
Despite initial denials, the machine was launched in Europe shortly afterwards, replacing the 664 for the same price - a situation which understandably irritated some of those who had recently purchased 664s. As well as the CP/M 2.2 and DR Logo that had shipped with the DDI-1 and the CPC664, the 6128 came bundled with CP/M Plus (with the GSX graphics extension) making it an appealing all-round computer at a low price. Though the 128KB of memory could not be accessed all at once from BASIC (due to limitations of the [[Z80]]), the upper 64KB could be used readily from machine code courtesy of an upgrade Gate Array. A bundled program, [[BANKMAN]], provided some access from BASIC.
The presence of this extra memory and the clever design of Amstrad's CP/M Plus implementation allowed for a TPA (Transient Program Area) of 42KB, more than enough to run all CP/M software.
== ANT (Arnold Number Two) prototype ==
At the same time, Amstrad was designing the immensely successful [[PCW]] word-processor series, also with software by [[Locomotive Software|Locomotive]] and featuring an all-in-one Z80-based design.
== The 6128 ==[[Image:Cpc6128.jpg|right|thumb|200px|Amstrad CPC [[6128]] with colour monitor]] Success never came, however, since a few months after its launch Amstrad presented A shared architecture was developed that would encompass both the CPC6128 which was PCW and a 664 with redesigned keyboard (yet again) and double the amount of memory new, upgraded CPC - a great 128KBcodenamed ANT, or Arnold Number Two. This effectively killed off It shared many features with the 664PCW, to such as its larger memory and its users' frustrationexceptionally elegant screen-handling hardware, but boasted colour and sound, since it offered more at the same priceand retained CPC compatibility. The 6128 came bundled with CP/M 2.2, DR Logo and CP/M+ (with the GSX extension) and it aim was quite an appealing solution at a low price. Though the 128KB of memory could not be accessed all at once (due to [[Z80]]'s limitation), see off the upper 64KB could still be used as a RAM disk Atari ST and brought into view through memory banking. Even without this amountCommodore Amiga, however, Amstrad's efficient designed allowed for a TPA (Transient Program Area) of 42KB, more than enough to run all CP/M softwarenext-generation games machines already on the horizon.    
A few of the PCW's design features which don't appear to make any sense on their own stem from this shared ancestry. But the project was dropped at a fairly early stage, and the CPC Classic lived on before eventually succumbing to the Plus. Only one prototype board is believed to survive, in the possession of ex-Locomotive Software engineer [[Richard Clayton]].
[[Image:cpc6128plus.jpg|left|thumb|200px|Amstrad [[Plus|CPC6128+]] with colour monitor]]
The last models in the Amstrad 8bits CPC range were the Amstrad 464+ Plus and Amstrad 6128+Plus, launched together in 1990. It couln't be called "The CPC" name is said to have been dropped because Amstrad were sued by another firm still using it. Described as a solution of 'too little, too late', this was Amstrad's effort to prolong the life of its 8-bit computer series in the face of fierce competition from new 16-bit machines (notably, the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga). The plus series were mostly (but not quite 100%) compatible with the original CPC computers, and incorporated a list of new features, like a cartridge port for instant program loading, DMA for the AY soundchip (managed legal dispute with another Z80), hardware scrolling, programmable interruptions, 16 hardware zoomable sprites (not vectorized) with 15 other colours than the bitmap palette, and a palette of 4096 colours all in a newFrench firm, sleek case which reminded the higher-end machines. While the though it is also likely that "Amstrad CPC 6128 Plus" computers were arguably was considered too unwieldy a name and one redolent of the best 8machine's mid-bit computers ever built for the mass market, they died a natural death as the 16-bit era had trully and well set in80s heritage.         
Described as a solution of 'too little, too late', this was Amstrad's second effort to prolong the life of its 8-bit computer series in the face of fierce competition from new 16-bit machines (notably, the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga). The Plus series were mostly (but not quite 100%) compatible with the original CPC computers, and incorporated a list of new features, like a cartridge port for instant program loading, DMA for the AY soundchip, hardware scrolling, programmable interrupts, 16 hardware zoomable sprites (not vectorized) with an independent palette of 15 colours, and a choice of 4096 colours all in a new, sleek case which consciously aped the design of the Amiga. While the Amstrad Plus computers were arguably one of the best 8-bit computers ever built for the mass market, they died an early death as the 16-bit era had well and truly begun.
== The GX4000 ==
[[Image:Gx4000.jpg|right|thumb|200px|The Amstrad GX4000 ]]
By 1990 Amstrad had realised that the home market was heading towards the 16-bit machines, one one hand, and towards the new generation of game consoles like the Sega Master System or the Nintendo Entertainment System, on the other. Therefore, just as they created the 464+/Plus and 6128+ by upgrading the old machines, Plus to compete against the ST and the Amiga, they also created a stripped-down variant called the GX4000. The GX4000 was, in essence, a 464+ Plus motherboard in a new case, with no keyboard , cassette deck or disc drive, and with most entension extension ports gone - save for the cartridge port and two joypads. As was quite easy to predict, the GX4000 was a flop that could not break the stranglehold that Sega and Nintendo had on the market at the time. As a result, the GX4000 was soon to be found selling at ridiculously low prices - as little as £19.99 in the UK - as dealers tried to offload their stock. It was a shame, because if Amstrad had realised the market potential and produced this console a few years earlier, it could well have been a success. As it was, it had to suffer the same fate as the even less powerful Commodore 64GS.
As was quite easy to predict, the GX4000 was a flop, and something of a 'way too little, quite a bit late' solution that could not penetrate the stranglehold that Sega and Nintendo had on the market at the time. As a result, the GX4000 was soon to be found selling at ridiculously low prices as dealers were trying to offload their stock. It was a shame, because if Amstrad had realised the market potential and produced this console a few years earlier, it could well have been a success. As it was, it had to suffer the same fate as the Commodore 64GS.== Outro ==
== Outtro ==All in all, the CPC series met with great success. Although they would never achieve the universal status of the c64 Commodore 64 or even the humble Spectrum series, the CPCs managed to sell very well and attain leader status in several countries. The CPCs were very popular in the UK, Spain, France, Greece, Germany and Australia, to name a few countries.
Besides a lot of [[Emulatorsemulators]] , several old and modern hardware [[Clonesclones]] have been produced up to now.
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