Sam Coupé

Hardware


MGT


1989

Information originally from Tim Paveley taken from the Sam Coupé Scrapbook

In the last quarter of 1989 MGT launched the Sam Coupé. MGT was already known in the ZX Spectrum world for a range of hardware that they sold. The Sam was their pride and joy, and unfortunately to be their downfall.

The SAM name comes from a working name in the early design phases of ‘Some Amazing Machine’ (or ‘Some Amazing Micro’ or even ‘Spectrum Advanced Machine’ depending on who you talk to) and the ‘Coupé’ was a nickname because the machine resembles a fastback car in profile.

The design of the SAM Coupé was produced by the Nick Holland Design Limited in Cardiff with the keys set back from the edge of the casing so as to provide a support for the wrists.

The internal PCB is a T-shape to accomodate the floppy drives, one story of the time is that ‘when they fed in the board shape the CAD program fell over’ although a sad fact of buggy CAD code than the romantic notion of a radical design departure!

This was a time when the 16-bit machines, the Atari ST and the Amiga, were really being to take off. Sales in computers such as the Spectrum was in rapid decline. The Sam was aimed to fill this gap, a powerful 8-bit machine with specs that in cases out performed those of the 16-bit machines, at an 8-bit price. It was hoped that current 8-bit owners, particularly Spectrum owners, would jump on the nicely priced Sam rather than a more expensive 16-bit machine.

Software companies, such as US Gold, threw around comments like the now infamous "Strider in 2 weeks" quote - “If, as with Strider, we’ve already produced a games across all common formats, all we have to do is simply take the code from the Speccy version and the graphics from the ST and sort of mix them together. This should take one bloke around two weeks at most.” - needless to say, Strider never appeared.

Unfortunately the Sam arrived too late. Some initial problems, and lack of software meant that the interest just never took off. Some commercial games were initially converted, but the poor sales was enough to put most companies off. The bulk of Sam’s software catalogue comes from small companies, set up specifically to support the Sam. Although these managed to gain some impressive licenses, such as Prince of Persia and Lemmings, it just wasn’t enough.

MGT went bankrupt, Alan Miles and Bruce Gordon set up a new company SamCo to continue producing Sams and Bruce starting a seperate venture SamTek to produce hardware. Some magazines started giving the Sam negative press. SamCo struggled on for 2 years, and just as things were starting to look hopeful, they too went in liquidation. West Coast Computers appeared as a saviour, with grand plans, but then after a couple of mailshots went quiet.

Around 12,000 Sam’s were sold world wide according to David Ledbury.

Through all this, a small dedicated userbase stuck with the Sam, producing and selling new software and hardware.

Timeline:

See the Sam Coupé Timeline for key dates, reviews and events.

Specification:

See a detailed list of Sam Coupé Specifications


See the Sam User Manual and Sam Technical Manual


From Colin MacDonald taken from the Sam Coupé Scrapbook

“As far as I remember, what was used at SAMCo to gauge the age of a machine that came in was the serial numbers - the actual machine used Bruce’s birthday with three zeros at the end for the first serial number, whilst the disc drives used Alan’s birthday with three zeros.”

The Comms interface had a similar serial numbering scheme 041066xxxx.


If you would like to run Sam Coupé applications on a modern computer, an emulator program Sim Coupe is available.


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The Sam Coupe

A very nice designed computer with what would’ve been an amazing machine had it been released in early 1988 as originaly planned, the fact that this machine came out much much later spanned doom for the machine before it had a chance. A big shame - a total waste.

Sam Coupe computer

I sorta follow what your saying there, I got a Sam for Christmas in ‘89 and thought I was one of the lucky ones…instead I was stuck with a white elephant and even a year on I only had all of the 12 games ever released, the few games for the machine were very poor (apart from Prince of Persia, Escape Robot Monsters & Samtris which I liked to play alot!) when compared to ST games, and was the laughing stock at school coz of the amount of money I spent on it….
(Obviously I appreciate the reasons behind the true lack of games - software houses didint wanna know…)I kept hold of my Sam though purely to convert speccy tapes onto Sam disk, and ‘ve got about 100 disks containing speccy games; I still have it upto this very day and kept up with the FRED disks and software releases for the machine despite the fact that the majority of the games were very poor, coz of all in view I kept my Sam as a ‘2nd machine’, moving onto the Archimedes then later on the PC for applications as well as the Super Famicom, PC Engine & Neo Geo for serious gaming.
(And yes, I still use my Sam Coupe right up this very day!)

hi

http://velesoft.speccy.cz/sam_zx128.htm

external 1-4mb above 32768 at 6mhz no multiface 128 or .kul files as yet needs option two on snapper menu right at end of webpage…

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