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Amstrad is a British manufacturer of consumer electronics, started in 1968 by Sir Alan Sugar, in London.

Amstrad began by selling low-cost hi-fi equipment, before moving into satellite receivers, video cassette recorders, telephones and fax machines, as well as home computers, dedicated word processors, and later PC-compatibles, a games console and a personal digital assistant.

These days, Amstrad continues to make satellite receivers, as part of Rupert Murdoch's British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), being bought by the company in 2007, though its founder is more widely known to recent audiences as the star of the British version of The Apprentice.

Amstrad computers

Amstrad's first foray into home computing came with its successful CPC-464, released on April 11th 1984. It was based around a Zilog Z80 CPU, with 64kb RAM and a built in cassette recorder. Unlike many home computers of the day, Amstrad sold its machines as a complete system, including monitor at a time when most computers were connected to a regular television set. The CPC-464 was later followed by the brief appearance of the CPC-664 which replaced the cassette recorder for a 3 inch proprietary disk format, and shortly after the CPC-6128 which doubled the RAM of the CPC 664 to 128kb, and came bundled with CP/M Plus and Digital Research's LOGO programming language.

While the CPC was reasonably successful in its home country, it saw greater success on the continent, especially in countries such as France and Germany, where a diminished CPC scene exists to this day.

The success of the CPC spawned a number of publications to complement the machine, including Amstrad Action, the first publication from Future Publishing, which has since grown to over 50 publications across the world.

The CPC was later released in a stripped down version, with bundled printer known as the PCW. The PCW was dedicated as a word processing device, and its low cost and ease of use made it popular with British journalists of the time.