Reviving my Amstrad CPC 6128... through emulation!

March 02, 2021 — Nico Cartron

In this series of articles, I want to look at the Amstrad CPC 6128: its history and my "relationship" with it, the different emulators available today, before delving into the games I played with when I was young(er)! :)

A little bit of history...

If you don't know the brand Amstrad, then obviously you're either not old enough, or were not into computers in the mid 80's :)
Amstrad was a British electronics company, manufacturing home computers, with the most famous ones being the CPC family (and to a less extent, the GX4000 console). CPC stood for Colour Personal Computer.

What made the CPC quite unique back in 1984 when it was introduced, was that it included everything in a compact format: monitor, keyboard including the central unit and tape or floppy reader.
So you didn't have to use the household's TV screen as a display - the CPC had its own, dedicated display.

It also ran a CP/M basic, easy to program, and could be easily extended, e.g. with joystick (to play games), printer (through a printer port) as well as a mini-jack.

The CPC 464

The 464 had 64KB of RAM and an internal cassette deck, with either green or colour monitor:

The CPC 664

The only difference with the 464 is that the internal cassette deck has been replaced by a floppy disk (3 inches).
It lasted only 6 months, before being discontinued and replaced in the CPC line-up by the CPC 6128.

The CPC 6128

Probably the most successful Amstrad in France - pretty much all my friends had one, which was nice to exchange games :)

Compared with the 664, the 6128 had twice the memory (i.e. 128 KB)

My CPC 6128

I got my CPC at the end of 1988 - my parents bought one initially for business reasons (to type notes and print them), but eventually its main usage evolved to gaming. (I must admit I helped a little!)
We bought it in a shop in Paris, and interestingly, it was not an Amstrad, but a Schneider one, coming from Germany, with a QWERTY keyboard, which was interesting for two reasons:

  • first, France uses the AZERTY keyboard,
  • second, Germany uses QWERTZ.

I guess because Amstrad was a British company, I ended up with a QWERTY keyboard, which was not a problem as it was my first computer so I didn't have any habit with an AZERTY layout, and also since then I've been using exclusively QWERTY keyboards when doing my Computer Science & Technologies studies, and then in my follow-up jobs (currently typing this article from a MacBook Pro with a US international layout).

We bought the CPC with the color monitor, as well as a dot matrix printer.

First contact, and memories

I was 10 years old when we got the CPC, so I must admit I don't remember everything (although I vividly recall going to the store and getting out with those huge boxes and walking to the car).

First game

Actually, technically it was not a game, as the CPC came with a floppy with some demo games, which could not be played.
Still it was nice and I wish I could find it to watch it again - I can't remember the name nor the software vendor.

Using the beast

Back in 1988, having basic skills in English at 10 years old was not really common, and with the CPC OS being in English, I struggled a bit initially:

  • "what does all that mean? Retry, Ignore or Cancel?"
  • "what is Drive ?"

In the end, I figured it out - it's fascinating how motivated a young boy can be when it comes to playing games ^^

How about using my "physical" CPC today?

The CPC is a few hundred kilometers away, at my mother's house.
Plus, last time I checked it, the floppy drive was not working (it's very usual and can easily be fixed by simply replacing the drive belt).

So for convenience reasons, these days I am using a CPC emulator.

Next articles

In the next article, we'll look at the different options to emulate a CPC in 2021. Then, I want to look at the games I played a lot with, first just using my memory, and then by playing them again with an emulator!

Checkout the Amstrad tag for a list of all these articles :)

Tags: English, Amstrad, Geek, Emulation

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