What is AMSTRAD CPC?

The Amstrad CPC (from the company name “AMSTRAD”, named after its founder Alan Michael Sugar, TRAD for “trading”, and CPC for Color Personal Computer), was 8-bit micro-computer produced by Amstrad between 1984 and the early 1990s.
The series of computers counted several models: 464, 664, 6128 and took advantage of a wide range of games on floppy disks and cassettes.
Amstrad 464 64k cassette

How much does an Amstrad cost?

For a second-hand complete Amstrad CPC 6128 (CTM 644 monitor + keyboard with integrated floppy drive) in good working condition and a few games on floppy disks, you may pay around 150 and 200 euros (between $181 and $241) (according to person-to-person sales websites, vintage category, in 2021).
There are also keyboards only (with floppy drive but without CTM screen) at the price of 120 euros ($145).
In 2021, finding a working Amstrad CPC with no parts to be repaired takes luck and patience.
Amstrad games can be also found on these individual-to-individual websites. They are usually priced between $12 and $24, depending on the rarity of the game and their format cassette(tape) or diskette.

How do I start a game on Amstrad CPC 6128?

  1. When Amstrad boots up, it immediately displays "BASIC 1.1 Ready".
  2. If you have this message, insert the 3.0” floppy disk in the disk drive (be careful, floppy disks are double-sided so you have to know if the game is on side A or B but normally it is indicated on the label.)
  3. Type cat then [Enter] (or RETURN)
  4. The list of files (catalog) should appear.
    If nothing is displayed or there is an error, try typing |cpm instead (if you have an AZERTY keyboard try typing ùcpm)
  5. In the list of files, you have to find the right file to launch. This is often a 1k file with the extension .BAS or without any extension.
  6. Finally, type run "filename" to load and run this file.

How does the Amstrad tape player work / How do I load and start a game on Amstrad CPC 464 cassette?

  1. When Amstrad boots up, it immediately displays "BASIC 1.1 Ready".
  2. Type |tape to activate cassette/tape mode (useful if you have a floppy drive and a tape player).
  3. Type run". The message "Press PLAY then any key" will appear.
  4. Rewind the tape if needed, then put it in the tape player.
  5. Press the PLAY button on the cassette player (for now, the cassette remains "blocked" without moving forward).
  6. Without waiting for a message on the screen, press CONTROL + the small ENTER key (this will "unlock" the tape. The tape will start moving forward).
  7. Some time later, a "Loading" message will appear.
  8. It can take between 5 and 10 minutes to load and run a game, depending on the game.

How do I start a game on Amstrad Emulator?

The principle is the same as with a real Amstrad computer.
Your floppy disks are “.DSK” files. To simulate inserting a floppy disk, there is a “Drive A” menu where you can select a DSK file.
There exist several Amstrad Emulators like WinAPE or CPCBox.

How do I repair an Amstrad floppy disk drive?

The CPC 6128 floppy disk drive was not really very reliable. After a few years of use, at the beginning of the 90s it was already showing weaknesses (it was often necessary to try several times so that the floppy disks end up being read...) In addition, the floppy disks even can show signs of wear and tear...
Some solutions:
  • Change the floppy drive belt.
  • Replace the floppy drive with a Gotek (floppy drive emulator by the means of USB key or SD card).

Is downloading possible on Amstrad?

If the concept of the Internet appeared later, Amstrad was already able to download online games. In 1988 with AMCHARGE and equipped with a Minitel, you had access a hundred games including Arkanoid, Space Harrier, Aliens, Barbarian, Marble Madness, Xevious... at the price of 114 Francs (around $19 in 1988). In fact you could have the "download kit" including AMCHARGE software + CPC-to-Minitel cable for 99 Francs + 15 Francs shipping cost.
Do you remember the magazine Amstrad Cent Pour Cent and its section pages “DOWNLOAD YOURS” (“TELECHARGEMENT VOTRE”): “Type 3615 code AMCHARGE” (which will eventually become “3615 code AMSTRAD”).
This catalog already offered access to games for rental or for sale (in this case, a formatted floppy disk had to be inserted).

How many colors can be displayed on Amstrad?

The Amstrad CPC has several graphics modes making it possible to use palettes between 2 to 16 colors among 27 available fixed colors. If you had an Amstrad CPC 6128, the color list was printed directly on its floppy drive:
Numbered from 0 to 26 and their original naming:
0: Black, 1: Blue, 2: Bright Blue, 3: Red, 4: Magenta, 5: Mauve, 6: Bright Red, 7: Purple, 8: Bright Magenta, 9: Green, 10: Cyan, 11: Sky Blue, 12: Yellow, 13: White, 14: Pastel Blue, 15: Orange, 16: Pink, 17: Pastel Magenta, 18: Bright Green, 19: Sea Green, 20: Bright Cyan, 21: Lime, 22: Pastel Green, 23: Pastel Cyan, 24: Bright Yellow, 25: Pastel Yellow, 26: Bright White
Amsoft CF-2 floppy disk converted to Amstrad 4 color palette with Image-To-Amstrad-CPC ImgToCPC

How do I display a photo on an Amstrad screen?

The Image-To-Amstrad-CPC "ImgToCPC" software allows you to convert an image to Amstrad format by processing your image file and display it on the Amstrad screen using the LOAD and POKE functions. This is not the only possibility because Amstrad still have a rich and productive community these days. Many people had the opportunity to look into the graphics functions of the Amstrad, in order to always try to push its limits and exploit its potential to the maximum. Games and "demos" are still being released in 2021.
Image of a woman with straight hair converted to Amstrad CPC format with ImgToCpcCrocodile amstrad cpc
You can download ImgToCpc directly or read the page dedicated to the ImgToCpc software for more information.
Credit Images:
- Woman with straight hair image on Amstrad CPC : "This Person Does Not Exist" www.thispersondoesnotexist.com
- Crocodile on Amstrad CPC (eye) : David Clode https://unsplash.com/@davidclode