Amstrad

Last updated

Amstrad Limited
Subsidiary [1]
Industry Electronics
Founded1968 (1968)
Headquarters Brentwood, Essex, United Kingdom
Area served
UK and Ireland
Key people


RevenueIncrease2.svg £91.65 million (2006)
Increase2.svg £26.94 million GBP (2006)
Increase2.svg £15.08 million GBP (2006)
Number of employees
85 (2005)
Website amstrad.com

Amstrad was a British electronics company. As of 2006, Amstrad's main business is manufacturing Sky UK interactive boxes. From 2010 Sky integrated Amstrad's Satellite division as part of Sky so they could make they own Set Top Boxes in-house.

Sky UK British pay TV company

Sky UK is a British telecommunications company which serves the United Kingdom owned by Comcast. Sky provides television and broadband Internet services, fixed line and mobile telephone services to consumers and businesses in the United Kingdom. It is the UK's largest pay-TV broadcaster with 12.5 million customers as of 2018. It was the UK's most popular digital TV service until it was overtaken by Freeview in April 2007. Its corporate headquarters are in Isleworth.

Contents

Amstrad was founded in 1968 by Alan Sugar at the age of 21. The name is a contraction of Alan Michael Sugar Trading. It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1980. During the late 1980s, Amstrad had a substantial share of the PC market in the UK. Amstrad was once a FTSE 100 Index constituent but since 2007 is wholly owned by Sky UK.

Alan Sugar British business magnate, media personality, and political advisor

Alan Michael Sugar, Baron Sugar is a British business magnate, media personality, politician, and political adviser. In 1968, he started what would later become his largest business venture, consumer electronics company Amstrad. In 2007, he sold his remaining interest in the company in a deal to BSkyB for £125m.

London Stock Exchange Stock exchange in the City of London

London Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located in the City of London, England. As of April 2018, London Stock Exchange had a market capitalisation of US$4.59 trillion. It was founded in 1571, making it one of the oldest exchanges in the world. Its current premises are situated in Paternoster Square close to St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London. It is part of London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG).

FTSE 100 Index share index of the London Stock Exchange

The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index, also called the FTSE 100 Index, FTSE 100, FTSE, or, informally, the "Footsie", is a share index of the 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange with the highest market capitalisation. It is seen as a gauge of prosperity for businesses regulated by UK company law. The index is maintained by the FTSE Group, a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange Group.

The company had offices in Kings Road, Brentwood, Essex.

Brentwood, Essex town and the principal settlement of the Borough of Brentwood in England

Brentwood is a town in the Borough of Brentwood, in the county of Essex in the East of England. It is in the London commuter belt, 20 miles (30 km) east-north-east of Charing Cross, and near the M25 motorway. Latest figures suggest the town has a population of 79,000.

History

Amstrad 7070 tape deck Amstrad 7070.jpg
Amstrad 7070 tape deck

1960s and 1970s

Amstrad (also known as AMSTrad, for AMS, Alan Michael Sugar, and Trad for Trading) was founded in 1966 by Alan Sugar at the age of 19, the name of the original company being AMS Trading (Amstrad) Limited, derived from its founder's initials (Alan Michael Sugar). Amstrad entered the market in the field of consumer electronics. During the 1970s they were at the forefront of low-priced hi-fi, TV and car stereo cassette technologies. Lower prices were achieved by injection moulding plastic hi-fi turntable covers, undercutting competitors who used the vacuum forming process.

Consumer electronics Electronic products for everyday use

Consumer electronics or home electronics are electronic equipments intended for everyday use, typically in private homes. Consumer electronics include devices used for entertainment, communications, and home-office activities. In British English, they are often called brown goods by producers and sellers, to distinguish them from "white goods" which are meant for housekeeping tasks, such as washing machines and refrigerators, although nowadays, these would be considered brown goods, some of these being connected to the Internet. In the 2010s, this distinction is not always present in large big box consumer electronics stores, such as Best Buy, which sell both entertainment, communication, and home office devices and kitchen appliances such as refrigerators.

Injection moulding

Injection moulding is a manufacturing process for producing parts by injecting molten material into a mould. Injection moulding can be performed with a host of materials mainly including metals, glasses, elastomers, confections, and most commonly thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers. Material for the part is fed into a heated barrel, mixed, and injected (Forced) into a mould cavity, where it cools and hardens to the configuration of the cavity. After a product is designed, usually by an industrial designer or an engineer, moulds are made by a mould-maker from metal, usually either steel or aluminium, and precision-machined to form the features of the desired part. Injection moulding is widely used for manufacturing a variety of parts, from the smallest components to entire body panels of cars. Advances in 3D printing technology, using photopolymers which do not melt during the injection moulding of some lower temperature thermoplastics, can be used for some simple injection moulds.

Vacuum forming A simplified version of thermoforming, where a sheet of plastic is heated, stretched, and forced against a single-surface mold by a vacuum

Vacuum forming is a simplified version of thermoforming, where a sheet of plastic is heated to a forming temperature, stretched onto a single-surface mold, and forced against the mold by a vacuum. This process can be used to form plastic into permanent objects such as turnpike signs and protective covers. Normally draft angles are present in the design of the mold to ease removal of the formed plastic part from the mold.

Amstrad expanded to the marketing of low cost, amplifiers and tuners, imported from the Far East and badged with the Amstrad name for the UK market. Their first electrical product was the Amstrad 8000 amplifier.

Audio power amplifier electronic amplifier that amplifies low-power audio signals

An audio power amplifier is an electronic amplifier that amplifies low-power electronic audio signals such as the signal from radio receiver or electric guitar pickup to a level that is high enough for driving loudspeakers or headphones. Audio power amplifiers are found in all manner of sound systems including sound reinforcement, public address and home audio systems and musical instrument amplifiers like guitar amplifiers. It is the final electronic stage in a typical audio playback chain before the signal is sent to the loudspeakers.

Tuner (radio) frequency selection subsystem for a radio receiver

A tuner is a subsystem that receives radio frequency (RF) transmissions like radio broadcasts and converts the selected carrier frequency and its associated bandwidth into a fixed frequency that is suitable for further processing, usually because a lower frequency is used on the output. Broadcast FM/AM transmissions usually feed this intermediate frequency (IF) directly into a demodulator that convert the radio signal into audio-frequency signals that can be fed into an amplifier to drive a loudspeaker.

1980s

The Amstrad CPC 464 personal microcomputer Amstrad CPC464.jpg
The Amstrad CPC 464 personal microcomputer

In 1980, Amstrad went public trading on the London Stock Exchange, and doubled in size each year during the early '80s. Amstrad began marketing its own home computers in an attempt to capture the market from Commodore and Sinclair, with the Amstrad CPC range in 1984. The CPC 464 was launched in the UK, Ireland, France, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Spain and Italy. It was followed by the CPC 664 and CPC 6128 models. Later "Plus" variants of the 464 and 6128, launched in 1990, increased their functionality slightly.

Home computer class of microcomputers

Home computers were a class of microcomputers that entered the market in 1977, that started with what Byte Magazine called the "trinity of 1977", and which became common during the 1980s. They were marketed to consumers as affordable and accessible computers that, for the first time, were intended for the use of a single nontechnical user. These computers were a distinct market segment that typically cost much less than business, scientific or engineering-oriented computers of the time such as the IBM PC, and were generally less powerful in terms of memory and expandability. However, a home computer often had better graphics and sound than contemporary business computers. Their most common uses were playing video games, but they were also regularly used for word processing, doing homework, and programming.

Commodore International American home computer and electronics manufacturer

Commodore International was an American home computer and electronics manufacturer founded by Jack Tramiel. Commodore International (CI), along with its subsidiary Commodore Business Machines (CBM), participated in the development of the home–personal computer industry in the 1970s and 1980s. The company developed and marketed the world's best-selling desktop computer, the Commodore 64 (1982), and released its Amiga computer line in July 1985. With quarterly sales ending 1983 of $49 million, Commodore was one of the world's largest personal computer manufacturers.

Amstrad CPC series of home computers produced by Amstrad

The Amstrad CPC is a series of 8-bit home computers produced by Amstrad between 1984 and 1990. It was designed to compete in the mid-1980s home computer market dominated by the Commodore 64 and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, where it successfully established itself primarily in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and the German-speaking parts of Europe.

Amstrad PCW8512 word processor Amstrad PCW512.JPG
Amstrad PCW8512 word processor

In 1985, the popular Amstrad PCW range was introduced, which were principally word processors, complete with printer, running the LocoScript word processing program. They were also capable of running the CP/M operating system. The Amsoft division of Amstrad was set up to provide in-house software and consumables.

On 7 April 1986 Amstrad announced it had bought from Sinclair Research "...the worldwide rights to sell and manufacture all existing and future Sinclair computers and computer products, together with the Sinclair brand name and those intellectual property rights where they relate to computers and computer related products." [2] which included the ZX Spectrum, for £5 million. This included Sinclair's unsold stock of Sinclair QLs and Spectrums. Amstrad made more than £5 million on selling these surplus machines alone. Amstrad launched two new variants of the Spectrum: the ZX Spectrum +2, based on the ZX Spectrum 128, with a built-in tape drive (like the CPC 464) and, the following year, the ZX Spectrum +3, with a built-in floppy disk drive (similar to the CPC 664 and 6128), taking the 3" disks that many Amstrad machines used.

The ZX Spectrum +2. This was the first new Spectrum model released by Amstrad after their purchase of the range. ZX Spectrum Plus2.jpeg
The ZX Spectrum +2. This was the first new Spectrum model released by Amstrad after their purchase of the range.

In 1986 Amstrad entered the IBM PC-compatible arena with the PC1512 system. In standard Amstrad livery and priced at £399 it was a success, capturing more than 25% of the European computer market.[ citation needed ] It was MS-DOS-based, but with the GEM graphics interface, and later Windows. In 1988 Amstrad attempted to make the first affordable portable personal computer with the PPC512 and 640 models, introduced a year before the Macintosh Portable. They ran MS-DOS on an 8 MHz processor, and the built-in screen could emulate the Monochrome Display Adapter or Color Graphics Adapter. Amstrad's final (and ill-fated) attempts to exploit the Sinclair brand were based on the company's own PCs; a compact desktop PC derived from the PPC 512, branded as the Sinclair PC200, and the PC1512 rebadged as the Sinclair PC500.

Amstrad PPC 512 portable PC Amstrad PPC512 open.jpg
Amstrad PPC 512 portable PC

Amstrad's second generation of PCs, the PC2000 series, were launched in 1989. However, due to a problem with the Seagate ST277R hard disk shipped with the PC2386 model, these had to be recalled and fitted with Western Digital controllers. Amstrad later successfully sued Seagate, but following bad press over the hard disk problems, Amstrad lost its lead in the European PC market. [3]

1990s

In the early 1990s, Amstrad began to focus on portable computers rather than desktop computers. In 1990, Amstrad tried to enter the video game console market with the Amstrad GX4000, similar to what Commodore did at the same time with the C64 GS. The console, based on the Amstrad 464 Plus hardware, was a commercial failure, because it used outdated technology, and most games available for it were straight ports of CPC games that could be purchased for much less in their original format.

In 1993, Amstrad was licensed by Sega to produce a system which was similar to the Sega TeraDrive, going by the name of the Amstrad Mega PC, to try to regain their image in the gaming market. The system didn't succeed as well as expected, mostly due to its high initial retail price of £999. In that same year, Amstrad released the PenPad, a PDA similar to the Apple Newton, and released only weeks before it. It was a commercial failure, and had several technical and usability problems. It lacked most features that the Apple Newton included, but had a lower price at $450.

As Amstrad began to concentrate less on computers and more in communication, they purchased several telecommunications businesses including Betacom, Dancall Telecom, Viglen Computers and Dataflex Design Communications during the early 1990s. Amstrad has been a major supplier of set top boxes to UK satellite TV provider Sky since its launch in 1989. Amstrad was key to the introduction of Sky, as the company was responsible for finding methods to produce the requisite equipment at an attractive price for the consumer - Alan Sugar famously approached "someone who bashes out dustbin lids", to manufacture satellite dishes cheaply. Ultimately, it was the only manufacturer producing receiver boxes and dishes at the system's launch, and has continued to manufacture set top boxes for Sky, from analogue to digital and now including Sky's Sky+ digital video recorder.

In 1997, Amstrad PLC was wound up, its shares being split into Viglen and Betacom instead. Betacom PLC was then renamed Amstrad PLC.

The same year, Amstrad supplied set top boxes to Australian broadcaster Foxtel, and in 2004 to Italian broadcaster Sky Italia.

After 2000

In 2000, Amstrad released the first of its combined telephony and e-mail devices, called the E-m@iler . This was followed by the E-m@iler Plus in 2002, and the E3 Videophone in 2004. Amstrad's UK E-m@iler business is operated through a separate company, Amserve Ltd which is 89.8% owned by Amstrad and 10.2% owned by DSG International plc (formerly Dixons plc).

Amstrad has also produced a variety of home entertainment products over their history, including hi-fi, televisions, VCRs, and DVD players.

BSkyB takeover

In July 2007, BSkyB announced a takeover of Amstrad for £125m, [4] a 23.7% premium on its market capitalisation. BSkyB had been a major client of Amstrad, accounting for 75% of sales for its 'set top box' business. Having supplied BSkyB with hardware since its inception in 1988, market analysts had noted the two companies becoming increasingly close.

Sugar commented that he wished to play a part in the business, saying: "I turn 60 this year and I have had 40 years of hustling in the business, but now I have to start thinking about my team of loyal staff, many of whom have been with me for many years."

2008

It was announced on 2 July 2008 that Sugar had stepped down as Chairman of Amstrad, which had been planned since BSkyB took over in 2007. Amstrad was taken off the Stock Exchange on the 9th October 2008. [5] [6] [7]

Recently, Amstrad has ceased operations as a trading company, and exist in name only. [8] Under Sky, Amstrad currently only produce satellite receivers for Sky, as doing so allows them to reduce costs by cutting out the middleman. [9] Amstrad's former offices are now a Premier Inn Hotel. [10]

Sky bought Amstrad so they could have their own hardware development division to develop new Satellite boxes (Sky Q) made in-house.[ citation needed ]

Computer product lines

Home computers

Word processors

Notepad computers

PC compatibles

PC accessories

PDA

Set-top box

See also

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References

  1. "Amstrad Company Profile" . Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  2. "CRASH 28 - News" . Retrieved 10 January 2016.
  3. Computer Contracts - Merchantable Quality in Hardware Contracts - Amstrad plc v. Seagate Technology Archived 5 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "BSkyB agrees £125m Amstrad deal". BBC News. 31 July 2007. Archived from the original on 6 August 2007. Retrieved 31 July 2007.
  5. PDF from Company House
  6. Sugar steps down as Amstrad Chairman [ permanent dead link ]
  7. "Sir Alan steps down from Amstrad". BBC News. 2 July 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  8. Accounts for a dormant company
  9. End of an era as Sky buys Amstrad
  10. Amstrad Head Office now Brentwood Hotel

Further reading