Amstrad Mega PC

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Amstrad Mega PC
MegaPC Front.jpg
Close up of the front of the unit
Manufacturer Amstrad (licensed by Sega)
Type Video game console / Personal computer
Generation Fourth generation (16-bit era)
Release date1993;26 years ago (1993)
LifespanEurope 1993
Australia 1993
Media Cartridge, Diskette
Operating system MS-DOS 5.0 with Amstrad Desktop
CPU 32-bit Intel 80386SX @ 25 MHz
Motorola 68000 @ 7.14 MHz
Memory1MB SIMM RAM (expandable to 16MB)
Storage40MB Hard Drive, 3.5" Floppy Disk
Graphics SVGA Graphics with 256KB RAM
Power≈50W
Dimensions325 mm(w) x 78 mm(h) x 292 mm(d)

The Mega PC is a computer manufactured and released by Amstrad in 1993 under licence from Sega. It was similar but unrelated to the Sega TeraDrive. It is a standard Amstrad PC with Sega Mega Drive hardware bundled inside, the system was wired to share the dual-sync monitor and speakers with the Mega Drive on a separate circuit board. [1]

A computer is a machine that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of operations, called programs. These programs enable computers to perform an extremely wide range of tasks. A "complete" computer including the hardware, the operating system, and peripheral equipment required and used for "full" operation can be referred to as a computer system. This term may as well be used for a group of computers that are connected and work together, in particular a computer network or computer cluster.

Amstrad is a British electronics company. As of 2006, Amstrad's main business is manufacturing Sky UK interactive boxes.

Sega Japanese video game developer and publisher and subsidiary of Sega Sammy Holdings

Sega Games Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational video game developer and publisher headquartered in Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega Europe, are respectively headquartered in Irvine, California and London. Sega's arcade division, once part of Sega Corporation, has existed as Sega Interactive Co., Ltd., also a Sega Holdings subsidiary, since 2015.

Contents

Initially released in PAL areas such as Europe and Australia in 1993, [2] its success was short-lived due to its high price of £999.99 (later reduced to £599) and a CPU that was outdated by the time of its release. It was slightly easier to acquire an Amstrad Mega PC than the Sega TeraDrive system due to higher manufacturing volumes. Both systems have become collector's items.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

Collectable object regarded as being of value or interest to a collector

A collectable is any object regarded as being of value or interest to a collector. There are numerous types of collectables and terms to denote those types. An antique is a collectable that is old. A curio is a small, usually fascinating or unusual item sought by collectors. A manufactured collectable is an item made specifically for people to collect.

Technical specifications

Amstrad promoting the Mega PC AmstradMegaPC Advert.jpg
Amstrad promoting the Mega PC

In general, the Mega PC was seen as a better-built device than Sega's TeraDrive, as the unit was more robust and had more efficient air circulation. [3] The Mega PC was IBM-compatible and had a Mega Drive ISA card, a Mega Drive Controller, Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Joystick and Internal Speakers.

Side view of the unit, showing the ISA card, spare slot and RAM positioning MegaPC ISASideView.jpg
Side view of the unit, showing the ISA card, spare slot and RAM positioning

The machine shipped with 1MB of RAM, provided by 4× 256KB 30-pin SIMM sticks. This was expandable to 16MB by using 4× 4MB memory modules. [4]

SIMM type of memory module

A SIMM, or single in-line memory module, is a type of memory module containing random-access memory used in computers from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. It differs from a dual in-line memory module (DIMM), the most predominant form of memory module today, in that the contacts on a SIMM are redundant on both sides of the module. SIMMs were standardised under the JEDEC JESD-21C standard.

Although it boasted a higher specification than the Sega TeraDrive (having more RAM and a faster processor), the specification of the Mega PC's CPU was a generation old. The newer Intel 80486 was on the market and the first Pentium processors were released the same year as the Mega PC. The system was unable to act as a Software Development Kit due to its inability to simultaneously use the PC and the Mega Drive hardware. A cover on the front of the unit prevented the insertion of a Mega Drive game cartridge while using the PC hardware. [5]

Intel 80486 higher performance follow-up to the Intel 80386 microprocessor introduced in 1989

The Intel 80486, also known as the i486 or 486, is a higher performance follow-up to the Intel 80386 microprocessor. The 80486 was introduced in 1989 and was the first tightly pipelined x86 design as well as the first x86 chip to use more than a million transistors, due to a large on-chip cache and an integrated floating-point unit. It represents a fourth generation of binary compatible CPUs since the original 8086 of 1978.

Pentium an Intel microprocessor

Pentium is a brand used for a series of x86 architecture-compatible microprocessors produced by Intel since 1993. In their form as of November 2011, Pentium processors are considered entry-level products that Intel rates as "two stars", meaning that they are above the low-end Atom and Celeron series, but below the faster Core i3, i5, i7, i9, and workstation Xeon series.

Input/Output

Close up of the rear of the unit, showing ports and their positions MegaPC Rear.jpg
Close up of the rear of the unit, showing ports and their positions

The machine's rear houses multiple I/O ports. These include two serial ports, a 25-pin parallel port, a VGA port with combined signals for a standard VGA monitor and sound (Amstrad monitor only), a speaker/headphone jack, and a 15 pin game port for a joystick.

Serial port communication interface socket/plug

In computing, a serial port is a serial communication interface through which information transfers in or out one bit at a time. Throughout most of the history of personal computers, data was transferred through serial ports to devices such as modems, terminals, and various peripherals.

Parallel port an interface for connecting peripherals to computers

A parallel port is a type of interface found on computers for connecting peripherals. The name refers to the way the data is sent; parallel ports send multiple bits of data at once, in parallel communication, as opposed to serial interfaces that send bits one at a time. To do this, parallel ports require multiple data lines in their cables and port connectors, and tend to be larger than contemporary serial ports which only require one data line.

Game port

The game port, originally introduced on the Game Control Adapter, is a device port that was found on IBM PC compatible and other computer systems throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It was the traditional connector for joystick input, and occasionally MIDI devices, until replaced by USB in the 21st century.

View of the ISA card inside the Mega PC, showing the free ISA slot MegaPC ISAcard.jpg
View of the ISA card inside the Mega PC, showing the free ISA slot

The motherboard includes a 16 bit ISA slot connected to a riser card, providing a total of two 16 bit ISA slots. One of these slots is populated with an ISA card, which provides connections for sound at the rear of the machine and a connection for the Mega Drive cartridge at the front. The other slot was left free for expansion (such as the addition of a modem or Network Interface Card). [4]

The Sega TeraDrive includes stereo RCA jacks and composite NTSC video output for connection to a TV, whereas the Mega PC lacks this feature, but could be connected to a PAL TV through SCART. [5] Outputs from both the PC and Mega Drive units are available from a shared VGA connector, but since video output from the Mega Drive is still 15 kHz RGB it works fine when connected to a TV using SCART. When using the PC hardware, only a Multisync or VGA monitor can be used, as the unit outputs video at 31 kHz. [1]

Compatibility

The system shipped with an Amstrad branded controller that is internally identical to Sega's, allowing the controllers to be used on either system.

Peripherals

Amstrad bundled several peripherals with its Mega PC, including:

Mega Plus

Amstrad advertised a second system as the successor to the Mega PC named the Amstrad Mega Plus. This boasted slightly higher specifications, with the processor upgraded to a Cyrix Cx486SLC running at 33 MHz and a RAM upgrade of 4× 1MB SIMM modules (4MB). This was never released. [6]

See also

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References

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  2. "Sega Retro: Amstrad Mega PC". SegaRetro.org. Archived from the original on 2014-08-02. Retrieved 2015-02-19.
  3. "Assembler: Page 3 (via Archive.org)". Web.archive.org. 2008-05-23. Archived from the original on 2008-05-23. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  4. 1 2 "Amstrad Mega PC Service manual" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-09-20. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  5. 1 2 "Assembler: Page 1 (via Archive.org)". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2008-06-14. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  6. "1000 BiT +- Computer's description". 1000bit.net. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2010-05-30.