In the last quarter of 1989, Miles Gordon Technology (created by Allan
Miles and Bruce Gordon) launched the Sam Coupé. M.G.T. was already
known in the ZX
Spectrum world for a range of hardware that they sold (including the
famous Disciple). The Sam was their pride and joy, and unfortunately to
be their downfall.
This was a time when the 16-bit machines, the Atari
ST and the Amiga,
were really being to take off. Sales in computers such as the Spectrum
was in rapid decline. The Sam was aimed to fill this gap, a powerful 8-bit
machine with specs that in cases out performed those of the 16-bit machines,
at an 8-bit price. It was hoped that current 8-bit owners, particularly
Spectrum owners, would jump on the nicely priced Sam rather than a more
expensive 16-bit machine.
Software companies, such as US Gold, threw around comments like the now
infamous "Strider in 2 weeks" quote - "If, as with Strider,
we've already produced a games across all common formats, all we have
to do is simply take the code from the Speccy version and the graphics
from the ST and sort of mix them together. This should take one bloke
around two weeks at most." - needless to say, Strider never appeared.
Some initial problems, and lack of software meant that the interest just
never took off. Some commercial games were initially converted, but the
poor sales was enough to put most companies off. The bulk of Sam's software
catalogue comes from small companies, set up specifically to support the
Sam. Although these managed to gain some impressive licenses, such as
Prince of Persia and Lemmings, it just wasn't enough.
Unfortunately, being described as the logical upgrade for the spectrum
gave people the impression that the SAM was still the same as a spectrum,
and not having a disc drive at the time of release, the machine became
unpopular straight away.
Then, when the first disc drives were shipped, it became apparant that
there was a bug in the ROM. In order to kick the disk drive in to operation,
the user had to type in a long CALL command. Very tedious. And so MGT
had to fork out money on a new ROM.
Unfortunately, MGT came to a grinding halt in 1990, going in to liquidation.
But there was a glimmer of hope.
Under a new company name of SAM Computers Limited, Allan Miles and Bruce
Gordon brought back the rights to their machine, and began to manufacture
the Coupé again. Based in Swansea, Wales, the pair set up their
own software label 'Revelation', and released numerous SAM games, including
Bats 'N' Balls, Prince of Persia, and SAM conversions of the classic Spectrum
titles Manic Miner and Splat!. A range of new hardware appeared, the Messenger,
SAM Mouse, Sound Sampler (which was crap to say the least), and even a
1MB memory upgrade.
All went well for SAMCo. up until september 1992, when it was announced
that they had gone in to voluntary liquidation. People of the SAM world
were devastated. And so once again the future of the SAM was uncertain.
Then it was revealed that a company called West Coast Computers were
interested in buying the SAM, and everyone waited nervously. A month passed,
still no news. 2 month's passed, and still no news. Had West Coast given
In April 1993, it was finally made public that West Coast Computers had
bought the SAM Coupé. Everyone was pleased that SAM was still around,
and that new hardware would be produced. WestCoast models were indeed
produced with 512k RAM and double disk-drives, but the company quickly
went quiet... that was the end.
> SAM BASIC
Programs may be up to 217K long on a standard 256K Coupe. (470K on a
512K). Line numbers up to 61439 are allowed, with each line containing
up to 127 statements. Strings and arrays can have names up to 10 character
long. The names of user-defined functions and numerical variables can
have up to 32 charcters. Strings can be up to 64K long; arrays can fill
all available memory. SAM Basic is fully structured and inclueds procedures
with local variables and parameter passing by value and reference. Long
and short IF and ELSE are implemented,a s are DO, LOOP, REPEAT, UNTIL,
a CASE equivalent, ON, ON ERROR and GOTO label.
Graphics are well cathered for, with vary fast DRAW, CIRCLE, PLOT and
pattern FILL. RECORD and BLIZ allow complex graphics sequences to be stored
and replayed at high speed. Any part of the screen can be moved in any
direction with ROLL and SCROLL, and sections can be GRABbed and PUT back
elswhere. PALETTE allows instant changes to the screen colours; all 128
colours can be displayed at once. The displayed screen can be instantly
switch for another. The scharecter set includes block graphics and a wide
range of foreign characters. Character size can be altered to give 32,
64 or 85 columns. Double-hight characters can also be used. Text and graphics
screen copies can be made to a suitable printer in a variety of sizes.
Sound commands include BEEP, SOUND and a range of pre-programmed sound
effects. It is possible to have interrupt driven music from BASIC.
There are 56 built-in functions, which provide a full range of mathematical
and string-handling functions as well as mouse and light-pen handling,
string searching, hex and binary conversion and other features.
The tape system can handle program, data, binary and screen files at
a wide range of speeds.
The keyboard can be completely re-programmed; predefined strings can
be generated by any key.
Programs can be automatically indented to reflect structure and renumbered.
> SAM DOS
SAMDOS has been designed specifically for the SAM Coupe computer. It
is similar to G+DOS as used with the MGT Plus D Spectrum disk interface.
The internal SAM disk drive is a Citizen 3.5" slimline drive. Each
drive is cased and fitted with the MGT disk controller interface, which
utilises a VL-1772-02 floppy disk controller. By default the disks are
formatted as double sided, 80 track per side, 10 sectors per track, to
the IBM 3740 standard.
Disk format is 80 tracks per side, giving 160 tracks per disk. A track
is made up of 10 data sectors, each giving 512 bytes of storage. The first
4 tracks of the disk are given up to the SAMDOS directory, leaving 156
tracks available for storage. This leaves available 1560 data sectors
of 512 bytes (798720 bytes).
Although each data sector can hold 512 bytes, only 510 bytes of them
are available for storage. The last two bytes of the data sector are used
by the DOS to locate the next part of the file stored. Byte 511 hold the
next track used by the file, while byte 512 holds the next sector.
All the info was kindly provided by Tim from his
SamCoupé dedicated website SamCoupé
Scrapbook., and Stewart Skardon from SamCoupé.co.uk.
Frode Tenebo also contributed to these texts.