|★ PEOPLES ★ SOFTWARE HOUSES OPT FOR AMSTRAD|POPULAR COMPUTING WEEKLY) ★|
|Software houses opt for Amstrad (Popular Computing Weekly)|
SOME software houses, disappointed at finding the Sinclair QL has no facility for running cassette software, have turned instead to the new computer currently being developed by Amstrad.
Amstrad is aiming its micro squarely at the games market and this has also been a factor influencing some companies to opt for it in favour of the more 'serious' QL machine.
Most of the major games houses have been approached by Amstrad and a number — including Imagine. CRL and Micromega — are known to be writing for it.
The machine is planned for launch in the summer and will be offered in two forms — both including a built-in cassette recorder. For £199 the computer will include a separate black-and-white monitor. For £229 the price will include a monitor quality colour display in place of the monochrome tv.
Shaped rather like the QL and styled in a cream plastic case, the Amstrad includes a full-size professional keyboard with separate numeric and cursor pads.
Design of the hardware has been carried out by Ambit in Brentford. The micro is Z80-based with 64K Ram and 32K Rom. It has a three-channel sound capability. Twin Atari-standard joystick ports and a Centronics printer interface are provided. It has no RS232 or cartridge slot.
Like the Oric machine, the Amstrad has a variable loading speed from its built-in cassette machine (at the right of the keyboard and numeric pad) — 300. 1200 or 2500 baud. The display has two text modes — either 40 or 80 column and two graphics modes - 192 x 256 pixels and 192 x 8ft pixels.
The Basic and operating system for the machine have been written by Locomotive Software, a small Leatherhead-based systems house. Amstrad Basic is similar in power to BBC Basic, but does not feature procedures. The operating system features some advanced real-time facilities at the interrupt level of Basic. It is possible. for example, to call subroutines after a given time has elapsed. A form of windowing is also offered.
First deliveries of the Amstrad are scheduled for June and a number of high-street chains including Boots. Rum-helows. Currys and Comet are currently evaluating the machine.