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ScuzzBlog: Diaries April 2018

Entry 30th April 2018: Post: 2

Amstrad PCW 8256

Time was that all I used at home was an Amstrad PCW. For the
years from 1987 right through to 1993 I only had the PCW9512
at home and I was broken hearted when she packed up. A lot of
small architectural practices of the day used the PCW for most
of their paperwork. We were still drawing using traditional
pen and tracing sheets but for invoices and letters the PCW
was not only a magic typewriter but also a great file manager.
There were days when I worked for myself that I would spend
all day doing paperwork and I'm sure the heavy hammer on the
old daisy wheel printer must have kept the neighbourhood awake.

A good friend of mine had the 8256 and during the day he would
get visits from other small companies wanting to use his
computer. It was a real work horse. Personally I could never
be dealing with the green screen. Great tool all the same.

During last year I fixed the drive belt on my 8256 and 9512.
Both are working fine though I robbed the keyboard for the
8256 recently for the 9512+. The keyboard attached has a
real problem as it keeps chundling out garbage in CP/M.
Works with another keyboard so it is not the computer.

This unit has a banged up 3.5" floppy drive which is on a
very long ribbon cable. Unlike the 9512 you have to flip
the floppy disk over to fire up CP/M and then use the
disk formatting facility to create a disk to use with the
word processing software. Once formatted the drive will
appear as a Drive B on the menu. Useful but not, given that
the Amstrad PCW series was a law unto itself and didn't
really cross over into any other platform.

I guess the years 87-93 were busy for me in an office admin
kinda way and so my priorities were somewhat different from
my ZX81 and Amiga years. I probably spent a lot lot more
time on the PCW as when I wasn't working with it I was
writing books and fiddling with Mallard BASIC. Seems a long
time with the Amstrad now I think about it, but it really
always did what I needed, and so I just used the thing till
it fell over. I have a working PCW9512 so can still access
all my 3" disks... er that's 3" not 3.5".

Locoscript is still my favourite word processor of all time
and I do miss not having CP/M on tap at times. The PCW9512
handled disks better I have to say though both systems work
perfectly fine. Happy days.

PCW8256 as made by Amstrad around 1985 in the UK
Came with Mallard BASIC, Locoscript and CP/M
Runs on the Zilog Z80A at around 4 MHz
RAM is 256 KB

The rather battered floppy drive
Just not very convenient on the end
of that very long floppy ribbon. And
yes, my disk from 2003. Still in the drive

Familiar PCW boot lines on start-up

First up Locoscript

Boot up CP/M and use Disc Kit to format a disk

External drive kicks in

Drive active on the system

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Last updated 30/04/2018

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scuzzscink 2018