Computer hardware includes the physical, tangible parts or components of a computer, such as the cabinet, central processing unit, keyboard, computer data storage, graphics card, sound card and motherboard. By contrast, software is instructions that can be run by hardware. Hardware is so-termed because it rigid with respect to changes or modifications. Intermediate between software and hardware is "firmware", software, coupled to the particular hardware of a computer system and thus the most difficult to change but among the most stable with respect to consistency of interface; the progression from levels of "hardness" to "softness" in computer systems parallels a progression of layers of abstraction in computing. Hardware is directed by the software to execute any command or instruction. A combination of hardware and software forms a usable computing system, although other systems exist with only hardware components; the template for all modern computers is the Von Neumann architecture, detailed in a 1945 paper by Hungarian mathematician John von Neumann.
This describes a design architecture for an electronic digital computer with subdivisions of a processing unit consisting of an arithmetic logic unit and processor registers, a control unit containing an instruction register and program counter, a memory to store both data and instructions, external mass storage, input and output mechanisms. The meaning of the term has evolved to mean a stored-program computer in which an instruction fetch and a data operation cannot occur at the same time because they share a common bus; this is referred to as the Von Neumann bottleneck and limits the performance of the system. The personal computer known as the PC, is one of the most common types of computer due to its versatility and low price. Laptops are very similar, although they may use lower-power or reduced size components, thus lower performance; the computer case encloses most of the components of the system. It provides mechanical support and protection for internal elements such as the motherboard, disk drives, power supplies, controls and directs the flow of cooling air over internal components.
The case is part of the system to control electromagnetic interference radiated by the computer, protects internal parts from electrostatic discharge. Large tower cases provide extra internal space for multiple disk drives or other peripherals and stand on the floor, while desktop cases provide less expansion room. All-in-one style designs include a video display built into the same case. Portable and laptop computers require cases. A current development in laptop computers is a detachable keyboard, which allows the system to be configured as a touch-screen tablet. Hobbyists may decorate the cases with colored lights, paint, or other features, in an activity called case modding. A power supply unit converts alternating current electric power to low-voltage DC power for the internal components of the computer. Laptops are capable of running from a built-in battery for a period of hours; the motherboard is the main component of a computer. It is a board with integrated circuitry that connects the other parts of the computer including the CPU, the RAM, the disk drives as well as any peripherals connected via the ports or the expansion slots.
Components directly attached to or to part of the motherboard include: The CPU, which performs most of the calculations which enable a computer to function, is sometimes referred to as the brain of the computer. It is cooled by a heatsink and fan, or water-cooling system. Most newer CPUs include an on-die graphics processing unit; the clock speed of CPUs governs how fast it executes instructions, is measured in GHz. Many modern computers have the option to overclock the CPU which enhances performance at the expense of greater thermal output and thus a need for improved cooling; the chipset, which includes the north bridge, mediates communication between the CPU and the other components of the system, including main memory. Random-access memory, which stores the code and data that are being accessed by the CPU. For example, when a web browser is opened on the computer it takes up memory. RAM comes on DIMMs in the sizes 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, but can be much larger. Read-only memory, which stores the BIOS that runs when the computer is powered on or otherwise begins execution, a process known as Bootstrapping, or "booting" or "booting up".
The BIOS includes power management firmware. Newer motherboards use Unified Extensible Firmware Interface instead of BIOS. Buses that connect the CPU to various internal components and to expand cards for graphics and sound; the CMOS battery, which powers the memory for date and time in the BIOS chip. This battery is a watch battery; the video card, which processes computer graphics. More powerful graphics cards are better suited to handle strenuous tasks, such as playing intensive video games. An expansion card in computing is a printed circuit board that can be inserted into an expansion slot of a computer motherboard or
Video game console
A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play. The term "video game console" is used to distinguish a console machine designed for consumers to use for playing video games, in contrast to arcade machines or home computers. An arcade machine consists of a video game computer, game controller and speakers housed in large chassis. A home computer is a personal computer designed for home use for a variety of purposes, such as bookkeeping, accessing the Internet and playing video games. While arcades and computers are expensive or “technical” devices, video game consoles were designed with affordability and accessibility to the general public in mind. Unlike similar consumer electronics such as music players and movie players, which use industry-wide standard formats, video game consoles use proprietary formats which compete with each other for market share. There are various types of video game consoles, including home video game consoles, handheld game consoles and dedicated consoles.
Although Ralph Baer had built working game consoles by 1966, it was nearly a decade before the Pong game made them commonplace in regular people's living rooms. Through evolution over the 1990s and 2000s, game consoles have expanded to offer additional functions such as CD players, DVD players, Blu-ray disc players, web browsers, set-top boxes and more; the first video games appeared in the 1960s. They were played on massive computers connected to vector displays, not analog televisions. Ralph H. Baer conceived the idea of a home video game in 1951. In the late 1960s, while working for Sanders Associates, Baer created a series of video game console designs. One of these designs, which gained the nickname of the 1966 "Brown Box", featured changeable game modes and was demonstrated to several TV manufacturers leading to an agreement between Sanders Associates and Magnavox. In 1972, Magnavox released the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home video game console which could be connected to a TV set. Ralph Baer's initial design had called for a huge row of switches that would allow players to turn on and off certain components of the console to create different games like tennis, volleyball and chase.
Magnavox replaced the switch design with separate cartridges for each game. Although Baer had sketched up ideas for cartridges that could include new components for new games, the carts released by Magnavox all served the same function as the switches and allowed players to choose from the Odyssey's built-in games; the Odyssey sold about 100,000 units, making it moderately successful, it was not until Atari's arcade game Pong popularized video games that the public began to take more notice of the emerging industry. By autumn 1975, bowing to the popularity of Pong, canceled the Odyssey and released a scaled-down version that played only Pong and hockey, the Odyssey 100. A second, "higher end" console, the Odyssey 200, was released with the 100 and added on-screen scoring, up to four players, a third game—Smash. Released with Atari's own home Pong console through Sears, these consoles jump-started the consumer market. All three of the new consoles used simpler designs than the original Odyssey did with no board game pieces or extra cartridges.
In the years that followed, the market saw many companies rushing similar consoles to market. After General Instrument released their inexpensive microchips, each containing a complete console on a single chip, many small developers began releasing consoles that looked different externally, but internally were playing the same games. Most of the consoles from this era were dedicated consoles playing only the games that came with the console; these video game consoles were just called video games because there was little reason to distinguish the two yet. While a few companies like Atari and newcomer Coleco pushed the envelope, the market became flooded with simple, similar video games. Fairchild released the Fairchild Video Entertainment System in 1976. While there had been previous game consoles that used cartridges, either the cartridges had no information and served the same function as flipping switches or the console itself was empty and the cartridge contained all of the game components.
The VES, contained a programmable microprocessor so its cartridges only needed a single ROM chip to store microprocessor instructions. RCA and Atari soon released their own cartridge-based consoles, the RCA Studio II and the Atari 2600, respectively; the first handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges was the Microvision designed by Smith Engineering, distributed and sold by Milton-Bradley in 1979. Crippled by a small, fragile LCD display and a narrow selection of games, it was discontinued two years later; the Epoch Game Pocket Computer was released in Japan in 1984. The Game Pocket Computer featured an LCD screen with 75 X 64 resolution and could produce graphics at about the same level as early Atari 2600 games; the system sold poorly, as a result, only five games were made for it. Nintendo's Game & Watch series of dedicated game systems proved more successful, it helped to establish handheld gaming as popular and lasted until 1991. Many Game & Watch games were re-released on Nintendo's subsequent handheld systems.
The VES continued to be sold at a profit after 1977, both Bally and Magnavox brought their own programmable cartridge-based consoles to the market. However, i
An arcade game or coin-op game is a coin-operated entertainment machine installed in public businesses such as restaurants and amusement arcades. Most arcade games are video games, pinball machines, electro-mechanical games, redemption games or merchandisers. While exact dates are debated, the golden age of arcade video games is defined as a period beginning sometime in the late 1970s and ending sometime in the mid-1980s. Excluding a brief resurgence in the early 1990s, the arcade industry subsequently declined in the Western hemisphere as competing home video game consoles such as the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox increased in their graphics and game-play capability and decreased in cost; the first popular "arcade games" included early amusement-park midway games such as shooting galleries, ball-toss games, the earliest coin-operated machines, such as those that claimed to tell a person's fortune or that played mechanical music. The old Midways of 1920s-era amusement parks provided the inspiration and atmosphere for arcade games.
In the 1930s the first coin-operated pinball machines emerged. These early amusement machines differed from their electronic cousins in that they were made of wood, they lacked plungers or lit-up bonus surfaces on the playing field, used mechanical instead of electronic scoring-readouts. By around 1977 most pinball machines in production switched to using solid-state electronics both for operation and for scoring. In 1966 Sega introduced an electro-mechanical game called Periscope - an early submarine simulator and light gun shooter which used lights and plastic waves to simulate sinking ships from a submarine, it became an instant success in Japan and North America, where it was the first arcade game to cost a quarter per play, which would remain the standard price for arcade games for many years to come. In 1967 Taito released an electro-mechanical arcade game of their own, Crown Soccer Special, a two-player sports game that simulated association football, using various electronic components, including electronic versions of pinball flippers.
Sega produced gun games which resemble first-person shooter video games, but which were in fact electro-mechanical games that used rear image projection in a manner similar to the ancient zoetrope to produce moving animations on a screen. The first of these, the light-gun game Duck Hunt, appeared in 1969; that same year, Sega released an electro-mechanical arcade racing game, Grand Prix, which had a first-person view, electronic sound, a dashboard with a racing wheel and accelerator, a forward-scrolling road projected on a screen. Another Sega 1969 release, Missile, a shooter and vehicle-combat simulation, featured electronic sound and a moving film strip to represent the targets on a projection screen, it was the earliest known arcade game to feature a joystick with a fire button, which formed part of an early dual-control scheme, where two directional buttons are used to move the player's tank and a two-way joystick is used to shoot and steer the missile onto oncoming planes displayed on the screen.
In 1970 Midway released the game in North America as S. A. M. I.. In the same year, Sega released Jet Rocket, a combat flight-simulator featuring cockpit controls that could move the player aircraft around a landscape displayed on a screen and shoot missiles onto targets that explode when hit. In the course of the 1970s, following the release of Pong in 1972, electronic video-games replaced electro-mechanical arcade games. In 1972, Sega released an electro-mechanical game called Killer Shark, a first-person light-gun shooter known for appearing in the 1975 film Jaws. In 1974, Nintendo released Wild Gunman, a light-gun shooter that used full-motion video-projection from 16 mm film to display live-action cowboy opponents on the screen. One of the last successful electro-mechanical arcade games was F-1, a racing game developed by Namco and distributed by Atari in 1976; the 1978 video game Space Invaders, dealt a yet more powerful blow to the popularity of electro-mechanical games. In 1971 students at Stanford University set up the Galaxy Game, a coin-operated version of the video game Spacewar.
This ranks as the earliest known instance of a coin-operated video game. In the same year, Nolan Bushnell created the first mass-manufactured game, Computer Space, for Nutting Associates. In 1972, Atari was formed by Ted Dabney. Atari created the coin-operated video game industry with the game Pong, the first successful electronic ping pong video game. Pong proved to be popular, but imitators helped keep Atari from dominating the fledgling coin-operated video game market. Taito's Space Invaders, in 1978, proved to be the first blockbuster arcade video game, its success marked the beginning of the golden age of arcade video games. Video game arcades sprang up in shopping malls, small "corner arcades" appeared in restaurants, grocery stores and movie theaters all over the United States and other countries during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Battlezone and Bosconian were popular. By 1981, the arcade video game industry was worth US$8 billion. During the late 1970s and 1980s, chains such as Chuck E.
Cheese's, Ground Round and Busters, ShowBiz Pizza Place and Gatti's Pizza combined
Home computers were a class of microcomputers that entered the market in 1977, that started with what Byte Magazine called the "trinity of 1977", which became common during the 1980s. They were marketed to consumers as affordable and accessible computers that, for the first time, were intended for the use of a single nontechnical user; these computers were a distinct market segment that cost much less than business, scientific or engineering-oriented computers of the time such as the IBM PC, were less powerful in terms of memory and expandability. However, a home computer had better graphics and sound than contemporary business computers, their most common uses were playing video games, but they were regularly used for word processing, doing homework, programming. Home computers were not electronic kits. There were, commercial kits like the Sinclair ZX80 which were both home and home-built computers since the purchaser could assemble the unit from a kit. Advertisements in the popular press for early home computers were rife with possibilities for their practical use in the home, from cataloging recipes to personal finance to home automation, but these were realized in practice.
For example, using a typical 1980s home computer as a home automation appliance would require the computer to be kept powered on at all times and dedicated to this task. Personal finance and database use required tedious data entry. By contrast, advertisements in the specialty computer press simply listed specifications. If no packaged software was available for a particular application, the home computer user could program one—provided they had invested the requisite hours to learn computer programming, as well as the idiosyncrasies of their system. Since most systems shipped with the BASIC programming language included on the system ROM, it was easy for users to get started creating their own simple applications. Many users found programming to be a fun and rewarding experience, an excellent introduction to the world of digital technology; the line between'business' and'home' computer market segments blurred or vanished once IBM PC compatibles became used in the home, since now both categories of computers use the same processor architectures, operating systems, applications.
The only difference may be the sales outlet through which they are purchased. Another change from the home computer era is that the once-common endeavour of writing one's own software programs has vanished from home computer use; as early as 1965, some experimental projects such as Jim Sutherland's ECHO IV explored the possible utility of a computer in the home. In 1969, the Honeywell Kitchen Computer was marketed as a luxury gift item, would have inaugurated the era of home computing, but none were sold. Computers became affordable for the general public in the 1970s due to the mass production of the microprocessor starting in 1971. Early microcomputers such as the Altair 8800 had front-mounted switches and diagnostic lights to control and indicate internal system status, were sold in kit form to hobbyists; these kits would contain an empty printed circuit board which the buyer would fill with the integrated circuits, other individual electronic components and connectors, hand-solder all the connections.
While two early home computers could be bought either in kit form or assembled, most home computers were only sold pre-assembled. They were enclosed in plastic or metal cases similar in appearance to typewriter or hi-fi equipment enclosures, which were more familiar and attractive to consumers than the industrial metal card-cage enclosures used by the Altair and similar computers; the keyboard - a feature lacking on the Altair - was built into the same case as the motherboard. Ports for plug-in peripheral devices such as a video display, cassette tape recorders and disk drives were either built-in or available on expansion cards. Although the Apple II series had internal expansion slots, most other home computer models' expansion arrangements were through externally accessible'expansion ports' that served as a place to plug in cartridge-based games; the manufacturer would sell peripheral devices designed to be compatible with their computers as extra cost accessories. Peripherals and software were not interchangeable between different brands of home computer, or between successive models of the same brand.
To save the cost of a dedicated monitor, the home computer would connect through an RF modulator to the family TV set, which served as both video display and sound system. By 1982, an estimated 621,000 home computers were in American households, at an average sales price of US$530. After the success of the Radio Shack TRS-80, the Commodore PET and the Apple II in 1977 every manufacturer of consumer electronics rushed to introduce a home computer. Large numbers of new machines of all types began to appear during the early 1980s. Mattel, Texas Instruments and Timex, none of which had any previous connection to the computer industry, all had short-lived home computer lines in the early 1980s; some home computers were more successful – the BBC Micro, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Atari 800XL and Commodore 64, sold many units over several years and attracted third-party software development. Universally, home computers had a BASIC interpreter combined with a line editor in permanent read-only memory which one could use to type in BASIC programs and execute them
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
Sinclair Research Ltd is a British consumer electronics company founded by Clive Sinclair in Cambridge. It was incorporated in 1973 as Westminster Mail Order Ltd, renamed Sinclair Instrument Ltd Science of Cambridge Ltd Sinclair Computers Ltd, Sinclair Research Ltd, it remained dormant until 1976, when it was activated with the intention of continuing Sinclair's commercial work from his earlier company Sinclair Radionics, adopted the name Sinclair Research in 1981. In 1980, Clive Sinclair entered the home computer market with the ZX80 at £99.95, at that time the cheapest personal computer for sale in the United Kingdom. In 1982 the ZX Spectrum was released, becoming the UK's best selling computer, competing aggressively against Commodore and Amstrad. At the height of its success, inspired by the Japanese Fifth Generation Computer program, the company established the "MetaLab" research centre at Milton Hall near Cambridge, in order to pursue artificial intelligence, wafer-scale integration, formal verification and other advanced projects.
A combination of the failures of the Sinclair QL computer and the TV80 led to financial difficulties in 1985, a year Sinclair sold the rights to its computer products and brand name to Amstrad. Sinclair Research Ltd still exists as a one-man company, continuing to market Clive Sinclair's inventions. On 25 July 1961, Clive Sinclair founded Sinclair Radionics Ltd. in Cambridge. The company developed hi-fi products, radios and scientific instruments; when it became clear that Radionics was failing, Sinclair took steps to ensure that he would be able to continue to pursue his commercial goals. In February 1975, he changed the name of Ablesdeal Ltd to Westminster Mail Order Ltd; the name was changed to Sinclair Instrument Ltd in August 1975. Finding it inconvenient to share control after the National Enterprise Board became involved in Radionics in 1976, Sinclair encouraged Chris Curry to leave Radionics, which he had worked for since 1966, get Sinclair Instrument operational; the company's first product was a watch-like Wrist Calculator.
In July 1977, Sinclair Instrument Ltd was renamed Science of Cambridge Ltd. Around the same time, Ian Williamson showed Chris Curry a prototype microcomputer based on a National Semiconductor SC/MP microprocessor and parts from a Sinclair calculator. Curry was encouraged Sinclair to adopt it as a product. In June 1978, Science of Cambridge launched its MK14 microcomputer in kit form. In May 1979, Jim Westwood, Sinclair's chief engineer, designed a new microcomputer based on the Zilog Z80 microprocessor. Sinclair Instrument Ltd introduced the computer as the ZX80 in February 1980, as both a kit and ready-built. In November 1979, Science of Cambridge Ltd was renamed Sinclair Computers Ltd. In March 1981, Sinclair Computers was renamed Sinclair Research Ltd and the Sinclair ZX81 was launched. In February 1982, Timex Corporation obtained a license to manufacture and market Sinclair's computers in the USA under the name Timex Sinclair. In April the ZX Spectrum was launched. In July Timex launched the TS 1000 in the United States.
In March 1982 Sinclair Research Ltd made an £8.55m profit on turnover of £27.17m, including a £383,000 government grant to develop a flat screen. In 1982 Clive Sinclair converted the Barker & Wadsworth mineral water bottling factory at 25 Willis Road, into the company's new headquarters. In January 1983 the ZX Spectrum personal computer was presented at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. In September the Sinclair TV80 pocket television was launched, but was a commercial failure. In 1983 the company bought Milton Hall in the village of Milton, for £2m, establishing its MetaLab research and development facility there. In late 1983 Timex decided to pull out of the Timex Sinclair venture which, due to strong competition, had failed to break into the United States market. However, Timex computers continued to be produced for several years in other countries. Timex Portugal launched improved versions, the TS 2048 and 2068; the Sinclair QL was announced on 12 January 1984. The QL was nowhere near as successful as Sinclair's earlier computers.
It suffered from several design flaws, Your Sinclair noted that it was "difficult to find a good word for Sinclair Research in the computer press". Working QLs were not available until late summer and complaints against Sinclair regarding delays were upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority in May of that year. Severe were allegations that Sinclair was cashing cheques months before machines were shipped. In the autumn Sinclair was still publicly predicting it would be a "million seller", that 250,000 would be sold by the end of the year. QL production was suspended in February 1985, the price was halved by the end of the year; the ZX Spectrum+, a repackaged ZX Spectrum with a QL-like keyboard, was launched in October 1984 and appeared in WHSmith's shops the day after release. Retailers stocked the machine in large numbers in expectation of good Christmas sales. However, the machine did not sell as well as expected and, because retailers still had unsold stock, Sinclair's income from orders dipped alarmingly in January.
The Spectrum+ had the same technical specifications as the original Spectrum. An enhanced model, the ZX Spectrum 128, was
Amstrad is a British electronics company. As of 2006, Amstrad's main business is manufacturing Sky UK interactive boxes. Amstrad was founded in 1968 by Alan Sugar at the age of 21; the name is a contraction of Alan Michael Sugar Trading. It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1980. During the late 1980s, Amstrad had a substantial share of the PC market in the UK. Amstrad was once a FTSE 100 Index constituent but since 2007 is wholly owned by Sky UK; the company had offices in Kings Road, Essex. Amstrad was founded in 1966 by Alan Sugar at the age of 19, the name of the original company being AMS Trading Limited, derived from its founder's initials. Amstrad entered the market in the field of consumer electronics. During the 1970s they were at the forefront of low-priced hi-fi, TV and car stereo cassette technologies. Lower prices were achieved by injection moulding plastic hi-fi turntable covers, undercutting competitors who used the vacuum forming process. Amstrad expanded to the marketing of low cost, low quality amplifiers and tuners, imported from the Far East and badged with the Amstrad name for the UK market.
Their first electrical product was the Amstrad 8000 amplifier, which Sugar would describe as "the biggest load of rubbish I've seen in my life." In 1980, Amstrad went public trading on the London Stock Exchange, doubled in size each year during the early'80s. Amstrad began marketing its own home computers in an attempt to capture the market from Commodore and Sinclair, with the Amstrad CPC range in 1984; the CPC 464 was launched in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Italy. It was followed by the CPC CPC 6128 models. "Plus" variants of the 464 and 6128, launched in 1990, increased their functionality slightly. In 1985, the popular Amstrad PCW range was introduced, which were principally word processors, complete with printer, running the LocoScript word processing program, they were capable of running the CP/M operating system. The Amsoft division of Amstrad was set up to provide in-house software and consumables. On 7 April 1986 Amstrad announced it had bought from Sinclair Research "...the worldwide rights to sell and manufacture all existing and future Sinclair computers and computer products, together with the Sinclair brand name and those intellectual property rights where they relate to computers and computer related products."
Which included the ZX Spectrum, for £5 million. This included Sinclair's unsold stock of Sinclair Spectrums. Amstrad made more than £5 million on selling these surplus machines alone. Amstrad launched two new variants of the Spectrum: the ZX Spectrum +2, based on the ZX Spectrum 128, with a built-in tape drive and, the following year, the ZX Spectrum +3, with a built-in floppy disk drive, taking the 3" disks that many Amstrad machines used. In 1986 Amstrad entered the IBM PC-compatible arena with the PC1512 system. In standard Amstrad livery and priced at £399 it was a success, capturing more than 25% of the European computer market, it was MS-DOS-based, but with the GEM graphics interface, Windows. In 1988 Amstrad attempted to make the first affordable portable personal computer with the PPC512 and 640 models, introduced a year before the Macintosh Portable, they ran MS-DOS on an 8 MHz processor, the built-in screen could emulate the Monochrome Display Adapter or Color Graphics Adapter. Amstrad's final attempts to exploit the Sinclair brand were based on the company's own PCs.
Amstrad's second generation of PCs, the PC2000 series, were launched in 1989. However, due to a problem with the Seagate ST277R hard disk shipped with the PC2386 model, these had to be recalled and fitted with Western Digital controllers. Amstrad successfully sued Seagate, but following bad press over the hard disk problems, Amstrad lost its lead in the European PC market. In the early 1990s, Amstrad began to focus on portable computers rather than desktop computers. In 1990, Amstrad tried to enter the video game console market with the Amstrad GX4000, similar to what Commodore did at the same time with the C64 GS; the console, based on the Amstrad 464 Plus hardware, was a complete commercial failure, because it used outdated technology, most games available for it were straight ports of CPC games that could be purchased for much less in their original format. In 1993, Amstrad was licensed by Sega to produce a system, similar to the Sega TeraDrive, going by the name of the Amstrad Mega PC, to try to regain their image in the gaming market.
The system didn't succeed as well as expected due to its high initial retail price of £599. In that same year, Amstrad released the PenPad, a PDA similar to the Apple Newton, released only weeks before it, it was a commercial failure, had several technical and usability problems. It lacked most features that the Apple Newton included, but had a lower price at $450; as Amstrad began to concentrate less on computers and more in communication, they purchased several telecommunications businesses including Betacom, Dancall Telecom, Viglen Computers and Dataflex Design Communications during the early 1990s. Amstrad has been a major supplier of set top boxes to UK satellite TV provider Sky since its launch in 1989. Amstrad was key to the introduction of Sky, as the company was responsible for finding methods to produce the requisite equipment at an attractive price for the consumer - Alan Sugar famously approached "someone who bashes out dustbin lids", to manufacture satellite dishes cheaply, it was the