Amstrad CPC 464

Amstrad CPC 464
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Amstrad CPC 464-IMG 4849.JPG
CPC 464 with Joystick
Also known asCPC 464
Product familyAmstrad CPC
TypePersonal Computer
Release dateApril 12, 1984 (1984-04-12)
Introductory price£199 (with green monitor), £299 (with colour monitor)
Units sold2 Million
Operating systemAmsDos
CPUZilog Z80 @ 4MHz
SoundGeneral Instruments AY-3-8912
Best-selling gameThe Guild of Thieves
Related articlesAmstrad CPC
Amstrad CPC 464 on display at the Living Computer Museum complete with games for public use.

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.[1] 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.[2]

Amstrad was known for cheap hi-fi products but had not broken into the home computer market until the CPC 464.[3] 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".[4] 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".[2]

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.[2]

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".[5]

Technical Specifications

The CPC 464 was eventually powered by the Zilog Z80 processor[6] after the original attempts to use the 6502 processor, being used in the Commodore 64 and Apple II, failed.[2] 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.[6]

The CPC 464 had 3 display modes.[3]

  • 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.[3]

The CPC 464's code name during development was 'Arnold'.[1][6]

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