Amstrad PCW 8256
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.
The Amstrad PCW8256 was primarily sold as a word processor but was actually quite a competent general use computer owing to its flexible CP/M+ operating system and BASIC interpreter.
The PCW 8256 was launched in September 1985, and had 256 KB of RAM and one floppy disk drive. Launched a few months later, the PCW 8512 had 512 KB of RAM and two floppy disk drives. Both systems consisted of three units: a printer; a keyboard; and a monochrome CRT monitor whose casing included the processor, memory, motherboard, one or two floppy disk drives, the power supply for all the units and the connectors for the printer and keyboard. The monitor displayed green characters on a background that appeared black when the system was active. It measured 12 inches (30 cm) diagonally, and showed 32 lines of 90 characters each. The designers preferred this to the usual personal computer display of 16 64-character lines, as the larger size would be more convenient for displaying a whole letter. The monitor could also display graphics well enough for the bundled graphics program and for some games.