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1980s Computers Explanation of terms
Notes


The Sinclair PC200


Sinclair PC200

Manufacturer

Amstrad (UK)
Amstrad had bought the rights to the Sinclair brand name in 1986.

Model

PC200 Professional

Date Launched

Mid 1988

Price

£345 without a monitor
£460 with a monochrome monitor
£575 with a colour monitor

Microprocessor type

Intel 8086 @ 8 MHz

ROM size

Not known.
Contained an IBM-compatible BIOS.

Standard RAM

512 kilobytes

Maximum RAM

640 kilobytes

Keyboard type

Standard IBM PC type with 102 keys.

Supplied language

No programming language but the PC200 was supplied with MSDOS 3.3, the GEM 3 graphical interface and an 'Organiser' program.

Text resolution

40 or 80 columns x 25 rows

Graphics resolution

320 x 200 or 640 x 200 pixels (CGA standard)

Colours available

16 for text, 4 for graphics at low resolution, 2 at high resolution.

Sound

Built-in speaker

Cassette load speed

No cassette interface.
Fitted with a 3½ inch 720KB floppy disk drive in the side of the case.

Dimensions (mm)
Weight (grams)

450 x 335 x 85
5400

Special features

Two IBM-PC compatible ISA expansion slots (8-bit, half length).
PAL modulator for connection to a television, as well as a monitor output.
Provision for an Intel 8087 maths coprocessor.
Was supplied with a matching mouse and joystick.

Good points

Ports for analogue joystick, Centronics printer and RS232 were included.

Bad points

The case was too low to hold expansion cards. If they were fitted the top cover of the case had to be left off.
With an 8086 processor and CGA graphics the PC200 was outdated compared to other IBM compatibles even at launch.

How successful?

Unusually for Amstrad the Sinclair PC200 was a commercial failure. Very few were sold which makes the model quite a collector's item nowadays.
Some were sold in the US as the PC-20, with a beige case.

Comments

The Sinclair PC200 was essentially a basic IBM PC/XT compatible and seems to have been based on Amstrad's popular 1512 PC, but in a new case.
With its all-in-one console styling the PC200 resembled earlier 8-bit machines rather than the separate keyboard style of most IBM compatibles.

It was not clear who was likely to buy the PC200. With no hard disk drive and only a single floppy drive it was not really suited to business use, and besides the Sinclair brand name was associated with games machines, not computers for serious work.
The fact that a domestic television could be used as the display implies it was mainly intended as a 'family' home machine, probably primarily for playing games but also with the capability for wordprocessing, record-keeping etc.

The problem for the PC200 was that in the top end home games market it was up against the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga, both of which had better graphics with more colours on screen at once, more advanced sound, a faster processor and higher maximum RAM.

Perhaps the only real niche for the PC200 was someone who needed an IBM PC compatible but on a limited budget.



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