User Tools

Site Tools


The PCW (Personal Computer Word-processor) computer series was created by Amstrad and was launched in 1985. Schneider took care of distribution in Germany, changing the name to Joyce.


Every member in the PCW series (but for the PcW16) share the same basic features:

  • Z80 processor clocked at 4 Mhz.
  • A Gate Array (ASIC) that handles most basic functions (audio, video, memory controller, keyboard handling).
  • A µPD765 NEC disk controller, along with a SED9420 data separator.
  • A i8041 MCU that controls the printer and serves the boot code on start up (as the PCW has no ROM at all).
  • 256 KB internal RAM, upgradeable to 512 KB.
  • Detachable serial keyboard, handled by the i8048 MCU.
  • Expansion capabilities through an expansion bus.

The following items were delivered along with the computer:


Alan Sugar had the idea of the PCW while flying to Hong Kong on July 1984. He realized that most computers were used as word processors. His idea was to offer a substitute to typewriters.

To achieve lower costs, the machine was designed around a Z80 processor, with a custom ASIC by MEJ Electronics (who had already worked on the CPC), monochrome screen and without sound. Locomotive was in charge of providing the software for the new machine.

It wa sinitially designed to have 128 KB of RAM, but due to falling RAM prices, it was decided to be shipped with 256 KB. The project code name was Joyce, in honor of Sugar's secretary.

The computer was launched in September 1985, at 399£ + VAT, much cheaper than IBM PCs at the time. It sold more than 700.000 units on the first two years, taking 60% of the UK market, and 20% of the european market.

The PCW's commercial life ended in 1998, with more than 8.000.000 unit sold. It was a very popular business machine, but not as home computer. Its game catalog is really small compared to other contemporary computers.




  • Amstrad PcW 9256, with 256 KB of RAM, MF2DD disk drive and matrix printer.
  • Amstrad PcW 9512+, with 512 KB of RAM, MF2DD disk drive, matrix printer and standard parallel port.
  • Amstrad PcW10, with 512 KB of RAM, MF2DD disk drive, matrix printer and standard parallel port.


  • Amstrad PcW16, with 1 MB of RAM, 1 MB of Flash storage, MF2HD disk drive, two serial port and one parallel port. It is a completely different design and not compatible with the rest of the PCW series.
en/pcw.txt · Last modified: 2015/09/21 08:46 by