|Key People (choice)|
|Sector||Video and computer games|
Today Amstrad is a subsidiary company of Sky TV which produces set-top boxes for Sky TV. In 1999 the German division was bought by the Metabox AG. In the 80's Amstrad developed and sold its home computer series Amstrad CPC in Europe.
Amstrad was founded by Alan Sugar in 1968. The company name means Alan Michael Sugar Trading. At the beginning the company's products were accustical and electronic home equipment like TVs, cassette recorders or car radios. The range was quickly expanded to audio amplifiers and receivers. In 1980 the company went to the London stock exchange. This was the start up for entering the computer market.
CPC and Joyce
In 1984 Amstrad published the CPC in Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Europe and entered with this the contested market of 8-bit home computers. In Germany, the series was manufactured under licence by the Schneider Computer Division - a division of the "Schneider Rundfunkwerke" from Türkheim - and was therefore sold as Schneider Personal Computer. Although the CPC came very late onto the market, it could establish well. The magazine CHIP even made it Computer of the Year in 1985. In the same year, the Amstrad PCW was released. This is an office computer which was intended for the professional users and which ran with CP/M. In Germany, the machine was named after Sugar's secretary Mrs. Joyce: Schneider Joyce. This series was continued until 1996.
The operating system of both computers was produced by the company Locomotive Software. A complete text processing software with the name Locoscript was developed for the Joyce. This text processing software was probably used on 90% of all Joyce's. Therefore Locomotive Software was significantly responsible for the success of both systems.
To supply both systems with software, the company Amsoft was founded. Its task was not to produce Software for the CPC, but to make sure, that a software libary for the CPC was available at the right time. This library comprised any type of software, starting from educational programms to text processing software. The software was mostly bought from small software manufacturers. From the launch of the CPC until 1989 Amsoft published software for the CPC, the Joyce and from 1986 also for the Sinclair Computer. The first contact with software on the CPC was most of the time an Amsoft product, as there were usually a few titles inside the package of a new computer.
On April 7th, 1986 Amstrad published a press release which announced that they had taken over the competitor Sinclair Research. The sales price was 5 million pounds and contained the rights to the successful ZX Spectrum series, as well as a high stock of unsold Sinclair QL and Spectrum computers. Alone with the sale of the stock Amstrad earned over 5 million pounds. Amstrad pushed the development and published new Spectrum models. During the most successful times, Amstrad was worth over one billion pounds.
With the continuing success of IBM compatible PCs, Amstrad published their own MS-DOS PCs. With the model PC-1512 Amstrad was said to having a market share of 25%. In 1988, Amstrad published the PPC512 and PPC640. These are portable PCs. At the end of the 80s several other models were released with which they tried to place the brand Sinclair on the market after ending the Spectrum series - which was no success. Alan Sugar held computer parts, which Amstrad had bought and placed into their products, responsible for the missing success. This started with the Amstrad PC2000 series, which had a standard controller that would not work properly. But the real reason was, that Amstrad computers were not modern enough and did not have a good price-performance ratio.
To get back to the profit zone, Amstrad announced that computers are far too cheap and that they will raise the prices. Amstrad hoped that the complete market would follow suit. The competitors did not follow and thus helped Amstrad to press itself out of the market. Amstrad took over the PC manufacturer Viglen towards the end of the Amstrad PCs, which could hold itself until the enterprise was restructered once again.
In the early 90s Amstrad tried more and more to distinguish itself with portable computers. In 1990, a compact CPC model and a video game console, which was based on the CPC, were released. Both systems were hardly successful. One could not compete against the successful 16bit consoles by Nintendo and Sega with an 8bit console. Together with Sega they decided to develop the Amstrad Mega PC. This was an IBM compatible PC which was equipped with a Sega Mega Drive. With the PenPad one tried to establish a PDA on the market which was also not very successful.
After the success of the own computer systems had faded, Amstrad focused on other segments. Amstrad took over several telecommunication companies and produced set-top boxes for the Sky Group as one of the first producers. In 1997, Amstrad was split into Viglen and Betacom. Betacom PLC was later renamed Amstrad PLC. In the new millenium, Amstrad PLC concentrated mainly on consumer electronics as VHS video recorders and DVD players. With the E-m@iler Amstrad tried to place an innovative product on the market, but no one wanted it. It was a telephone, with which one could also send emails. In 2007, Amstrad was taken over by Sky. In July 2008, Amstrad announced that Sir Alan Sugar had resigned from office.