Amstrad PCW8256

The PCW8256 was the first computer that I actually got paid to work with. My mum’s friend’s husband wanted to computerise the records from his window cleaning business. The year was 1985, and child labour was still legal then.

Ok, so all we had to work with at the time was Locoscript, but I managed to cobble together a simple record of work done and a rudimentary invoicing system.

All the while I was mucking about learning CP/M.

Elsewhere I shall talk about CP/M.

Anyway, the PCW8256.

Brilliant bit of low-budget kit from Amstrad. No corner was uncut. But it worked, was successful, and sold very well.  Until the IBM PC clones took over.

These days, the PCWs are getting rare. They turn up on eBay, but are always problematic.

Back in the day, I wrote a few games and utilities for the PCW. Only one still exists, as far as I know:  Star Bores

These days I still play about with an emulated PCW8512. I still muck about with programming games.

To emulate the PCW, I use Joyce.

It boots me (Option 1), into a custom environment that gives me 4 disk images, a ramdisk and an interchange directory on the host WinXP system.

  • A> Boot disk (simulated floppy)
  • C> Home disk (simulated HD with all programs copied to here)
  • D> Disk for PAW development work (simulated HD)
  • E> Unused (simulated HD)
  • M> Simulated Ramdisk
  • P> Interchange directory accessible from WinXP

I don’t use it for much right now, apart from making and testing puzzles in the Professional Adventure Writer software. I might eventually finish a game, some day.


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