Amstrad CPC 464
CPC 464 with Joystick
|Also known as||CPC 464|
|Product family||Amstrad CPC|
|Release date||12 April 1984|
|Introductory price||£199 (with green monitor), £299 (with colour monitor)|
|Units sold||2 Million|
|CPU||Zilog Z80 @ 4MHz|
|Sound||General Instruments AY-3-8912|
|Best-selling game||The Guild of Thieves|
|Related articles||Amstrad CPC|
The CPC 464 was the first personal home computer built by Amstrad in 1984. It was one of the bestselling and best produced microcomputers, with more than 2 million units sold in Europe. The British microcomputer boom had already peaked before Amstrad announced the CPC 464 (which stood for Colour Personal Computer) which they then released a mere 9 months later.
Amstrad was known for cheap hi-fi products but had not broken into the home computer market until the CPC 464. Their consumer electronic sales were starting to plateau and Owner and Founder Alan Sugar stated "We needed to move on and find another sector or product to bring us back to profit growth". Work started on the Amstrad home computer in 1983 with engineer Ivor Spital who concluded that Amstrad should enter the home computer market, offering a product that integrated low-cost hardware to be sold at an affordable "impulse-purchase price".
Spital wanted to offer a device that would not commandeer the family TV but instead be an all-in-one computer with its own monitor, thus freeing up the TV and allowing others to play video games at the same time.
Bill Poel, General Manager of Amsoft (Amstrad's software division), said during the launch press release that if the computers were not on the shelves by the end of June "I will be prepared to sit down and eat one in Trafalgar Square".
The CPC 464 was eventually powered by the Zilog Z80 processor after the original attempts to use the 6502 processor, being used in the Apple II amongst many other 8-bit computer families, failed. The Z80 ran at 4 MHz, had 64K of memory and ran AMSDOS, Amstrad's own OS. The unit included a built in tape drive and the choice of a green or colour monitor.
The CPC 464 had 3 display modes.
- Mode 0 - 16 colours from the 27 strong palette to be shown in low resolution
- Mode 1 - up to 4 colours in medium resolution
- Mode 2 - 2 colours from 27 in high resolution
Its sound was supplied using the General Instruments AY-3-8912 sound chip that provided 3-voice, 8-octave sound capacity through a built in loudspeaker with volume control. Later versions of the 464 had a headphone jack that could also be used for external speakers.
The 464 was popular with consumers for various reasons. Aside from the joystick port, the computer, keyboard, and tape deck were all combined into one unit that attached to the monitor via 2 cables. The monitor also contained the power supply unit which powered the whole unit via one wall plug. It did not have very many wires and was simple to install for even the most inexperienced user.
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- Sugar, Allan (2011). What you see is what you get : my autobiography. London: Pan Books. p. 610. ISBN 0330520474.
- "CPC 464 Launched in a Blaze of Publicity". Amstrad Computer User. 1 (1): 6. 1984.
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- "How Lord Sugar's Amstrad CPC 464 changed computing". Independent. 9 April 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2016.