Amstrad PPC 512

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Amstrad PPC512/PPC640
Amstrad PPC512
TypePortable computer
Release date1987; 37 years ago (1987)
Introductory priceUS$1,099 (equivalent to $2,947 in 2023)
Operating systemMS-DOS 3.3
CPUNEC V30 @ 8 MHz
Memory512KB (PPC512); 640KB (PPC640)
Storage3.5" floppy disk drives
DisplayMonochrome non-backlit LCD; 640x200 resolution
GraphicsMonochrome Display Adapter, CGA
SoundPC Speaker
Input102-key keyboard with numpad and function keys
ConnectivityRS-232, Centronics, 2400 baud modem (PPC640)
Dimensions4 x 17,5 x 9 inches
Mass12 lb (5.4 kg)
IBM PC compatible

The Amstrad PPC512[1][2] and Amstrad PPC640[3][2] were the first portable IBM PC compatible computers made by Amstrad. Released in 1987,[4][5] they were a development of the desktop PC-1512 and PC-1640 models.

As portable computers, they contained all the elements necessary to perform computing on the move. They had a keyboard and a monochrome LCD display built in and also had space for disposable batteries to power the PC where a suitable alternative power source (i.e. mains or 12 volt vehicle power) was not available. The PCs came with either one or two double density double side floppy disc drives and the PPC640 model also featured a modem.

Both models were supplied with PPC Organiser software and the PPC640 was additionally supplied with the Mirror II communications software.


Amstrad PPC512, closed
Amstrad PPC640

The two computers had very similar specifications. The PPC512 had an NEC V30[1][3] processor running at 8 MHz, 512 KiB of memory, a full-size 102-key keyboard with a numeric keypad, a built-in liquid crystal display (not backlit)[6] that could emulate the CGA or MDA[2] and either one or two 720k 3.5" floppy drives (the model was either the PPC512S or PPC512D depending on the number of drives it had).[7]

The PPC640 was otherwise identical except that it had 640 KiB of memory, a built-in 2400 baud modem (unusually fast for its day), and its case was a darker shade of grey. Both versions of the machine had an empty socket on the main circuit board so that an Intel 8087 coprocessor could be installed to permit hardware processing of floating point arithmetic.

The PPC included standard connectors for RS-232, Centronics and CGA/MDA video, allowing existing peripherals to be used.[2] All the signals used by the 8-bit ISA bus were also available through a pair of expansion connectors. There was available an external card cage for expansion cards.

Four possible power sources could be used:[8]

The physical layout of the components was unlike most laptop designs: instead of the lid containing the screen, it contained the keyboard. The hinges were therefore at the front of the main unit, rather than the back. The LCD was hinged separately and folded down into a recess on the top of the system unit. The one or two floppy drives were located on the right-hand side. When closed, the size of the PPC was 45 cm wide × 10 cm high × 23 cm deep.

A bank of six DIP switches was used to select whether the video hardware emulated CGA or MDA, and whether to use an internal or external monitor.

No official hard drive option or docking station was manufactured, but both were sold by third-party manufacturers.


MS-DOS 3.3 was supplied with all PPCs, along with PPC Organiser - a memory-resident suite of utilities including a card file, diary, calculator and telephone dialler. In addition, the PPC640 was supplied with Mirror II, a communications package for use with the built-in modem.

The MS-DOS boot disk also included a utility which could be used to switch between the internal display and an external monitor without rebooting.

Amstrad PC20 / Sinclair PC200[edit]

In late 1988 Amstrad created a desktop computer based on the PPC design, intended for the home market.[9][10] This machine was available in two versions, Sinclair PC200 and Amstrad PC20. The PC200[11] had a black case and 'Sinclair' branding, while the PC20[12] was white and branded 'Amstrad'.[13][14]

In the Media[edit]

An Amstrad portable appears in Loki, season 2 episode 5 as the ad hoc TemPad that OB/Ouroboros builds from the TVA manual given to him earlier in the episode. It is unclear whether it is a PPC512 or PPC640 model.


  1. ^ a b "Amstrad PPC512 - MCbx". Retrieved 2022-11-22.
  2. ^ a b c d "Amstrad PPC Technical Reference Manual". Retrieved 2022-11-22.
  3. ^ a b "AMSTRAD PORTABLE PPC 640". 2017-04-06. Retrieved 2022-11-22.
  4. ^ "Amstrad PPC512 - MCbx". Retrieved 2022-11-23.
  5. ^ "AMSTRAD PORTABLE PPC 640". 2017-04-06. Retrieved 2022-11-23.
  6. ^ Amstrad PLC: PPC 512S / 512D PPC 640S / 640D Personal Portable Computer Service Manual pp 16,30
  7. ^ "Retro-Zone.Org Amstrad - PPC512 / PPC640 Retro Computers Old Computers Retro Games Old Games". 2012-03-16. Archived from the original on 2012-03-16. Retrieved 2022-11-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ The Amstrad Portable PPC512/640 User Instructions (Pub J2220101A)
  9. ^ "Sinclair PC200 – Time-Line Computer Archive". Retrieved 2022-11-23.
  10. ^ Withers, Steve. "Amstrad PC20" (PDF). APC. No. 100. p. 319.
  11. ^ "Sinclair PC 200". HomeComputerMuseum (in Dutch). Retrieved 2022-11-23.
  12. ^ Graham, Adrian. "Amstrad PC20". Binary Dinosaurs. Retrieved 2023-03-12.
  13. ^ "Sinclair PC 200". Retrieved 2022-11-23.
  14. ^ "Amstrad PC20". 1000 BiT. Retrieved 2023-03-12.

External links[edit]