Last modified on 21 January 2011, at 10:38


Revision as of 10:38, 21 January 2011 by MacDeath (Talk | contribs) (Impact on French Game companies)

Thomson is a French High tech corporation who produce Weapons or HI-FI Electronic devices.

It used to produce 8-bit home computers in the 80's.

Yet those machines were litteraly whipped out by Amstrad in the French market.

History : a French phenomenon

Despite this they were quite common because in the 80's, the french governement started a program "Plan informatique pour tous" (computering for all plan) which consisted of equipping schools with computers networks.

As a result, a lot of Thomson computers were only sold to schools.

Range and products

First generation :

  • MO5
  • TO7
  • TO7/70

Second generation :

  • MO6
  • TO8
  • TO8D
  • TO9
  • TO9+

Impact on French Game companies

Because a french computer, french games producers ported many of their games on those computers.

Thomson computers were know to have been used in some "cross developpments" for Amstrad CPC games.

As later MO6/TO8 models did include Video mode similar to Amstrad CPC's ones, in addition to a 16 colours character attributed mode (like on MSX1 or Spectrum...more like the MSX1 though...) and a 4096 colour palette.

Also those later models included more RAM than Amstrad's 8 bit computers.

But those computers were lacking a decent sound chip as it was shipped with only a beeper. Thomson said more decent sound system would be included into cartridge, but they would never be available.

Even the AY seems like a Sid in comparison.

And the almost only market was France (perhaps a few sold in Italia), where Amstrad litteraly raped Thomson's market shares in their homeland.

The fact was that the Amstrad CPC was more well rounded machine, far cheaper and had a fully compatible range while MO6 wasn't even compatible with TO8 (nor MO5 with TO7).

Also the CPC getting CP/M compatibility was a definitive edge.

Exemples of games co-developped on Thomson and CPC

  • Bivouac (TO8)
  • Iznogoud (TO8)
  • Sapiens (MO5/TO7) : originally an MO5 game.
  • Le 5ème Axe (french name) from Loriciels, was originally a MO5 game.
  • Captain Blood : the TO8 version is exactly the same as the CPC version, minus the sounds.

Palette and Video Modes

MO5 and TO7

The 1st generation of 8 bit thomson computers have a custom 4-bit RGBI palette of 16 colours.

Screen color test Thomson MO5.png

MO5 TO7 palette.png

Quite comparable with the ZX Spectrum palette, it is indeed done with a range of medium and clear tones instead of dark and medium.

Also it is to notice that instead of having 2 Black, one was replaced by an Orange.

The Attribute system was comparable to MSX1 with attributes of 8x1 and 16 colours diplayable on screen (2 per attributes) superior to ZX Spectrum in almost every way.

MO6 and TO8

The 2nd generation of 8 bit thomson computers got the addition of the 3 video modes of the Amstrad CPC/PLUS, in addition to the heritage attribute based mode.

But the palette have been upgraded into a 4096 colours 12bit palette, the same as on the unreleased at the time Amstrad PLUS range (and of course the Commodore Amiga... and many other computers and consoles).


Those Bitmap video modes are :

  • 160x200x16
  • 320x200x4
  • 640x200x2

Minus the lack of Hardware sprites and raster interrupt facilities (still doable on Thomson machines), the MO6 and TO8 are actually superior to the Amstard PLUS Range due to the attribute based mode in addition to the 3 "CPC-like" modes.

RGB 12bits palette color test chart.png

RGB 12bits palette.png



  • TO8 version :


  • CPC version :



While some ports used different palette (the TO8 often using the AtariST/16bit version palette when available) other games were simply straight ports with no alteration in palette from CPC to TO8.

Mostly when the CPC palette was largely adequat.

  • TO8 version :

Bactron TO8.png

  • CPC version :

Bactron CPC.png


  • TO8 version :

Iznogoud on TO8.png

  • CPC version :

Iznogoud on CPC.png

In the case of this game (Iznogoud) the TO8 version includes extra features that are available on Atari ST version (and perhaps IBM PC too) but not on the Amstrad CPC due to the CPC464 version's limitation.

TO8 had an impressive 256K Ram that Amstrad users could only dream for to be available from the shelf and used by software companies...

The few games who got a TO8 version alongside the CPC version could easily get a PLUS upgrade just by using the same colours as the TO8 version is this one had a specific palette.


  • a complete French site with softwares and stuff on Thomson computers.