The CPC outside the UK, France and Spain: Let's share our stories!

Started by cwpab, 16:50, 24 February 24

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In a recent topic, the user ZorrO shared some great stories about retro computing in Poland in the 80s and 90s (you can read them here and here).

We all know the CPC was a bit hit in the UK, France and Spain. And we've all seen multiple stories about the UK users/developers/Amstrad company people, as well as the "golden era of Spanish games" (and the peculiar 472 model) or all the French magic with all those graphic adventures and even "Internet" downloads from the Minitel. But this forum has a lot of users from Poland, Australia, Germany and Greece, and we rarely know more about the 8 bit computer background in those countries.

Yes, I know the CPC did decently in Germany and Greece, but I suspect other machines sold more, and there weren't too many developers compared to the main CPC countries. Considering Greeks use a different alphabet and Germans introduced the CPC through a different company and did things like banning arcade games for everyone under 18, perhaps some good stories could be told.

So my question would be: if you live outside "the big 3", what CPC stories can you tell? How was your CPC experience in your country? Was the CPC the best selling 8 bit computer? Did any of your friends have one?


From what I understood, before the 464 was released the Spectrum and ZX81 ruled the market here in Greece. But then the 464 exploded and, from my experience, it took a big lead in the market. It's no surprise there were two (?) dedicated Amstrad magazines but none for the other machines. Of all my friends, a couple had Speccies, one had a c64 and one (miserable guy) a MSX.

Later on you would see entire stores (predominantly video clubs) being run on 6128s and, later, Amstrad PCs. 

There were tons of listings to implement Greek characters on the CPC. We just had to live with the fact that many magazine listings either started with them or with "first run 'greek.bas' then run the main program".

As for the arcades; they did not officially allow underage people here, either. But there were many whose owners just looked the other way. I used to frequent a rather sleazy and dark drink hole that had a handful, near my home, but the real party was when I went on vacation (Litohoro, at the feet of Olympus) which had a pretty big place with dozens of arcade machines - and not an adult in view :D My dad also used to take me to a billiards place (which also had a couple of arcade machines and a nude poster of Samantha Fox on the wall - oh, the things you remember).

However, bigger, downtown places were stricter because (I guess) policing was stricter there. I remember visiting one regularly with my girlfriend (now wife) when we were actually 18, and being asked time and again in a hushed voice, "is she 18?" (she used to look like 16 well into her twenties :D ).


Two computers sold like crazy in Greece, 6128 and Amiga.
I remember back then at school, I had many friends.
Everybody had a CPC in Piraeus. I only knew one with a +2 and another one with a 65XE.
At the end, it didn't really matter what you had. But what your friends had, so you can have many games  ;D


Finland was a Commodore country overwhelmingly. Even VIC20 was succesful for its time, but C64 really blew up. They where everywhere and I wouldn't be surprised if it outsold everything else 10:1 or even more, at least during its best years. Every family who had young lads in the household seemingly had one. And I can't blame anyone, it had great specs, it came out at the perfect time and was marketed really well and Commodore slashed the price whenever it was needed to stay on top of everyone else.

I got my CPC464 for christmas 85 and by that time C64 steamroller was already well on its way, the game was pretty much decided during 1984, so CPC was pretty much just too late. CPC was really well received in the press and was the home micro of the year in 1985. Marketing was also good, at least during the 85-86. I didn't know anyone else with CPC back in the day, couple of lads had some other systems, but again C64 was the name of the game to the point that everything else was almost a side note. Not that there weren't alternatives available, because even very obscure systems were imported and sold here, but naturally most of those died off soon around and after mid 80s. We had even couple of systems rebranded by local electronics manufacturers.

It is difficult to say anything concrete about the Amstrad sales numbers here, but I think it is safe to say that it most likely was third sold micro and preformed better than Sinclair Spectrum. I also think that overall MSX systems sold more units and especially Spectravideo MSX systems pop up for sale regularly even nowadays, alone more than Amstrads. Local MSX community also seems larger or at least more active than Amstrad, so I think that tells something about the relative popularity of those systems. Of other large brands, Atari 8-bits never took off and weren't really even strongly marketed and Apple //s were prohibitively expensive, I never even saw neither one back in the day. Software and games was easily available for CPC throughout the 80s, so I'd say it was a decent success as long as you don't compare it to C64.

C64 remained major player almost to the end, but naturally 16-bit systems started to take over gradually. ST got decent traction at first, but quite soon after A500 was released, ST sales plummeted. But Amiga 500, although common and relatively successful, really couldn't replicate the C64 success, like it couldn't pretty much anywhere when you look at the numbers of units manufactured and sold. The reason is also clear: PC. Most parents were already used to PCs at work and wedge Amigas were pretty much seen as another low cost toy computer and many simply went from 8-bit micros to PCs, me included. I got another Amstrad, PC2086 around -89/90. During the first two years of the 80s PCs exploded as home computers and most of my buddies had one. I'd say that in my friends group and around the people I generally knew around -91/92, PCs outnumbered Amigas perhaps 3:1 or 4:1 quite easily.
CPC6128 - Gotek FlashFloppy - CTM644 - OSSC


Very interesting! We have Poland, Greece and Finland covered. It would be interesting to know about someone from Portugal, Italy... and about Germany, mainly to know more about why there weren't too many game developers during the 80s over there (and the coin-op underage ban).

About loading the Greek characters before the program with "GREEK.BAS", I wanted to see that in action. I found this Greek video about issue 1 of a Greek CPC magazine. I selected a time in the video link where the guy, from CPM, loads a "GR+" program to activate Greek characters and then disables it with a "GR-" program. It feels a bit weird for someone who doesn't speak Greek because he does a "dir" in the standard alphabet and then changes to Greek and runs one of the files written in Greek, so it feels like the file it's not there (I guess typing a second "dir" would have shown the same programs in Greek).

Here's some interesting data:

There are 42 dumps in Greek in CPC Power, including 2 about erotic images and 1 cute little Greek type-in called "Fishing Day", some sort of naval arcade-strategy game called Sea Warrior II and a text-based politician simulator (which was reviewed by a Greek magazine and received a 69%).

There are 12 dumps in Portuguese in CPC Power, but sadly they're mostly translations and the only interesting one is a cool text adventure from 2014, Serra Pelada, which features in-game map and a verb list (by the way, since CPC Power only shows a dedicated link when you switch to page 2 and this was only 1 page, I created the link manually by guessing the code for "Portuguese", which was "PT" to diferenciate it from "PL", as Spanish was "S").

There are 12 dumps in Polish in CPC Power, including a visual test and 2 cute little type-ins, one of them text-based a bout parachuting and the other some sort of slot machine.

Germany has it much better with 1592 dumps. I wonder how many of them are originally German! I will check later.

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