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1980s Computers Explanation of terms
Notes


The SAM Coupé


SAM Coupe

Manufacturer

Miles Gordon Technology (UK)

Model

SAM Coupé

Date Launched

Late 1989

Price

£160

Microprocessor type

Zilog Z80B @ 6 MHz
(Compared to the Sinclair Spectrum's 3.5 MHz)

ROM size

32 kilobytes

Standard RAM

256 kilobytes

Maximum RAM

512 kilobytes
256 KB expansion RAM cost £39.95

Keyboard type

Typewriter style with 72 keys

Supplied language

SAM BASIC

Text resolution

32 x 24 or 80 x 24 characters

Graphics resolution

256 x 192 or 512 x 192 pixels

Colours available

128
Usually only 16 different colours on screen at one time.

Example Screenshot

Sam Coupe display
This is the game of 'Manic Miner', originally a big hit on the Spectrum, running on the Sam Coupe. The Coupe version (above) looks more colourful than the Spectrum version (below) because each pixel could be set independently of surrounding pixels.
Spectrum Manic Miner

Sound

Three channels each in stereo, output through TV.

Cassette load speed

2250 baud.
Could also read 1500 baud Spectrum tapes.
Optional internal 3½ inch disk drives, holding 720 KB, cost £90.

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

390 x 180 x 65
Not known

Special features

Could operate in a mode compatible with the 48K ZX Spectrum, allowing it to run around 75% of Spectrum programs.
The keys were set back from the front to provide a wrist rest.

Good points

Built in ports for joystick, mouse, SCART, light pen, MIDI.
There was space at the front of the case for one or two 3½ inch disk drives.
The SAM Coupe offered a step up from the Spectrum towards the power of a 16-bit machine, at a lower price.

Bad points

SAM Coupe side viewSomewhat strange styling with a sloped front, hence the name Coupé:
Not fully compatible with the original Spectrum or with the newer Spectrum 128K
By the time it was launched the Sinclair Spectrum was very dated and the Coupe was not quite in the same league as the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga.
With a disk drive the price of the Sam was approaching that of the ST, for a less powerful computer.

How successful?

Not very popular except with Spectrum owners who wanted a better computer without having to buy new software.

Comments

The SAM Coupe was designed as a Super Spectrum, with vastly more memory, nearly twice the speed, better graphics, far better sound, a good keyboard, expansion ports, etc. Yet it was still able to make use of the Spectrum's software library.
Unfortunately the Coupe was too late and computer hardware was moving onwards.



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