Alan Sugar unveils feast of MS-DOS products under the Amstrad and Sinclair banners… Although somewhat stunted by the shortage of DRAM chips – we are hurting, said chairman Alan Sugar – Amstrad Plc’s push to be taken seriously in the business market went into full swing yesterday with the launch of the PC 2000 range […]
Alan Sugar unveils feast of MS-DOS products under the Amstrad and Sinclair banners… Although somewhat stunted by the shortage of DRAM chips – we are hurting, said chairman Alan Sugar – Amstrad Plc’s push to be taken seriously in the business market went into full swing yesterday with the launch of the PC 2000 range of 8086, 80286 and 80386 machines, priced from between UKP600 and UKP3,000 plus VAT. And far from revealing the Micro Channel architecture system that many were predicting, the company announced its participation in the extended industry standard architecture 32-bit AT compatible bus announced at the same time in New York. Other goodies unveiled included the PC200 IBM compatible under the Sinclair badge for home use, a range of VGA monitors that will also be marketed separately, a three-station local area network, and a stand alone modem. But pride of place went to the 2000 Series itself: starting with the 8MHz 8086-based PC 2086, with MS-DOS 3.3 and Microsoft Windows, 640Kb RAM, 720Kb 3.5 disk drive(s) with 30Mb hard disk option, 3 PC expansion slots, keyboard, mouse and 12 or 14 VGA graphics monitor for a starting price of UKP600 (single drive), rising to UKP1,350 for the hard disk 14 colour version; then the PC 2286, with 12MHz 80286 CPU (with optional 80287 floating point), MS-DOS 4.0, Windows 286, 1Mb RAM expandable to 4Mb, five AT slots, and 1.44Mb 3.5 disks, for UKP1,000 (twin drive) to UKP1,700 for the 40Mb hard disk version; and at the top of the range the PC2386, with a 20MHz chip (with optional 80387), MS-DOS 4.0 and Windows 386, 4Mb RAM expandable to 16Mb, 64Kb cache memory and 65Mb hard disk, with prices ranging from UKP2,650 (12 mono monitor) to UKP3,000 (14 high resolution colour monitor). All models include bi-directional parallel Centronics port and RS232 serial port. The four PC VGA compatible monitors will also be marketed for use with other hardware, said the company, and cost UKP150 for the 12 mono and UKP300 for the 14 colour, with high resolution 12 and 14 colour versions costing UKP400 and UKP500. The three-station Amstrad local area network – based on Corvus Inc’s Omninet, described as plug in and start, costs UKP400 including cards, cables, disks and documentation. Amstrad also offers a 5.25 external drive which can be plugged into the
Series 2000 for data transfer. Delivery of the 2286 and 2386 models have been held back until the first quarter of next year due to the memory chip shortage, said Alan Sugar, but the 2086 systems should be available in the next few weeks. The older 1512 and 1640 machines will still be sold while demand continues. Along with the new machines, Amstrad is restructuring its dealer network with a new two-tiered structure, divided into advanced system centres, able to sell the entire range, and authorised business centres, excluded from selling the 2286 and 2386 models. You can’t sell this level of machines over the counter at Tesco, said Sugar.
…sees DRAM famine till mid-1989… Speaking at the Amstrad launch, Alan Sugar blamed the DRAM shortage, particularly the famine of 256Kb chips used for graphics, as the reason for the delay in the delivery of the 286 and 386 models: despite the optimistic noises beginning to appear in the press, I don’t fobsee the situation clearing up until at least the third quarter of next year said Sugar, who indicated that the DRAM shortage had been taken account of in the price scales, so that they will not need to be adjusted over the next six months: in the long term, he said, prices would tumble, negating any benefit of producing a machine using the cut-price 16-bit 80386SX chip.
Along with its new business machines, Amstrad introduced the first of its new home computer systems under the Sinclair name. The PC 200 series includes three MS-DOS machines, including an entry level system for UKP300 with mouse, GW-Basic and GEM 3 with Desktop, calculator and clock – the system is designed for those using television sets as monitors. The mid-range model, for UKP400, includes mono monitor, joystick, or
ganiser software and four games, and the high-end model, selling for UKP500, includes the same but with colour monitor. All use MS-DOS 3.3 and have two IBM expansion slots, and the company expects sales from the home office user as well as children and games enthusiasts. Processor is the 8MHz 8086 with 512Kb (expandable) RAM, parallel and serial port. The launch has been timed for the Christmas market, and the machine should be in Comet stores within two weeks, though in limited numbers at first.
…eyes UK micro manufacture… And Sugar also revealed that the higher end Amstrad machines might soon be manufactured in the UK: we haven’t decided on whether to use our plant at Shoeburyness or employ an outside firm to do the manufacturing, he said: currently, the monitors are made in Taiwan and South Korea, with the system units all made in Korea – by a Japanese company.
…and endorses EISA 32-bit AT bus Compaq Computer Corp and friends – now a whole host of them, including Amstrad Plc and Olivetti, which had been proclaiming its plans for Micro Channel – yesterday duly unveiled their plans for EISA, the Extended Industry Standard Architecture bus. EISA specifies an AT-compatible 32-bit bus for Intel 80386 and future 80X86-based personal computers. The bus is not expected to turn up in products until late next year. The specification gives 32 bit address and data bus extensions to support memory beyond 16Mb, with 32-bit direct-memory access and 32-bit bus-master support. It has programmable board setup for auto configuration of EISA boards and software-aided configuration of switch programmable existing AT and future EISA boards. Despite its use of Micro Channel, Apricot Computers Plc is supporting the new bus, as are Acer Technologies, AT&T Information Systems, DEC, Hewlett, Kaypro Corp, Tandon Corp, Tandy Corp, Televideo Systems, Unisys, Wang Laboratories, Wyse Technology and Zenith Data Systems.