Amstrad PCW

The Amstrad PCW series was a range of personal computers produced by British company Amstrad from 1985 to 1998, and also sold under licence in Europe as the "Joyce" by the German electronics company Schneider in the early years of the series' life. When it was launched, the cost of a PCW system was under 25% of the cost of almost all IBM-compatible PC systems in the UK. As a result PCWs became very popular in the home and small office markets, both in the UK and in Europe, and persuaded many technophobes to venture into using computers. However the last two models, introduced in the mid-1990s, were commercial failures, being squeezed out of the market by the falling prices, greater capabilities and wider range of software for IBM-compatible PCs. The last model branded as a PCW was totally incompatible with the earlier ones.

In all models, including the last, the monitor's casing included the CPU, RAM, floppy disk drives and power supply for all of the systems' components. All except the last included a printer in the price. Early models used 3-inch floppy disks, while those sold from 1991 onwards used 3½-inch floppies, which became the industry standard around the time the PCW series was launched. A variety of inexpensive products and services were launched to copy 3-inch floppies to the 3½-inch format so that data could be transferred to other machines.

All models except the last included the Locoscript word processing program, the CP/M Plus operating system, Mallard BASIC and the LOGO programming language at no extra cost. A wide range of other CP/M office software and several games became available, some commercially produced and some free. Although Amstrad supplied all but the last model as text based systems, graphical user interface peripherals and the supporting software also became available. The last model had its own unique GUI operating system and set of office applications, which were included in the price. However none of the software for previous PCW models could run on this system.

Read more about Amstrad PCWDevelopment and Launch, Impact On The Computer Market, Software, Technical Design

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Amstrad PCW - Technical Design
... All PCW models, including the PcW 16, used the Zilog Z80 range of CPUs Z80 at a clock speed of 4 MHz but slowed to 3.4 MHz by the internal clock in the 8256 and 8512 Z80 at 4 MHz in the 9512, 9256, 9512+ and PCW10 and ... The PCW's CP/M applications could not use more than 64 KB, and the system used the rest of the RAM as a RAM drive ... Unusually, the Z80 CPU in the PCW 8256, 8512, 9512, 9256 and 9512+ had no directly connected ROM (read-only memory, which most computers need to ...