Amstrad Logo

Amstrad History

Alan Sugar founded Amstrad (Alan Michael Sugar Trading) in 1968, selling electrical goods such as car radios at markets in the East End of London. In the 1970s Amstrad began making its own brand electronic products, mostly low-price hi-fi systems. These were all-in-one designs to save on the costs of separate cases and power supplies for each component, thus allowing Amstrad to undercut its rivals. Amstrad soon dominated the low-end of the domestic hi-fi market.

In 1984 Amstrad expanded into the home computer market with the CPC-464. This was not particularly innovative technically but had a proper keyboard, with a tape cassette built into the unit, and came with a monitor. It was thus very easy to set up and use and sold well.

1985 saw the launch of the Amstrad PCW 8256, which was a simple machine using a Z80A processor and running the CP/M operating system, intended as a dedicated word processor, and selling for just £400 including a printer. The PCW 8256 was many people's first introduction to word processing and was especially popular with authors. Over 1 million were sold.

A fully IBM-compatible model called the PC 1512 followed in 1986. This was faster than an IBM XT, with an 8MHz 8086 processor and 512 kilobytes of RAM, but much cheaper than the IBM.

Also in 1986 Amstrad took over the ailing Sinclair computer division and repackaged the best-selling Sinclair Spectrum as the Spectrum +2 in a case resembling the CPC 464. The updated Spectrum continued to sell into the early 1990s.

Amstrad's products had never been leading edge, rather tending to use slightly outdated technology to keep the price down, but gradually the PC compatible market changed and purely being cheap wasn't good enough. Customers wanted either respected brand names or the latest processors and multimedia facilities, and Amstrad's computer sales declined. For a time in the 1990s Amstrad owned the UK computer maker Viglen, but have now withdrawn from the computer market.

Chronological listing
Back to chronological list

Home Page
Home Page


Hosted by