With the Amstrad PPC-512 and 640, Amstrad wanted to make the cheapest portable PC compatible computer, in the same way as the Amstrad PC1512 was for desktop computers.
But, despite its pleasant form, this computer suffered due to its poor 9" LCD screen. It had one or two 3.5" 720 KB floppy drives and some versions could also be found with a 10 or 20 MB internal hard disk.
If you were tired of the poor LCD screen, you could connect a monochrome or CGA monitor to the PPC at home. The Amstrad CPC series monitors could be used too.
The differences between the PPC-512 and PPC-640 were a different colour case, a built-in modem (v21, v22, v22 bis and v23 protocols) and 640 KB RAM for the PPC-640. Both versions could run with 10 C size batteries (1 hour battery life), or with an external AC adaptor.
I had one of these and have to agree that the screen wasn''t that bad when compared to others of the era. I had used it with an adapter for Shortwave radios that allowed you to decode various types of transmissions. I sold it to a guy at a swap meet who was going to use it for a packet radio terminal. He liked the full keyboard and the "convenient" size. :-)
Monday 13rd December 2010
Jack Ungerleider (USA)
I had one of these things, and it really was a truly horrible piece of hardware.
The screen was so bad that even with an anglepoise lamp positioned directly over it, you could barely read it. Who came up with the idea of a non-backlit black-on-dark-green LCD?? It''s just nuts.
And yes, it will run on 8 D-cell batteries. Good luck getting an hour''s use out of them! Running on batteries is a hideously expensive proposition.
I ran MS-DOS 3.3 happily on this machine. I bought it second-hand with no software, if I remember correctly.
If you have one of these, just toss it in the bin. It really doesn''t deserve to be remembered.
Tuesday 19th October 2010
Curtis Burisch (Johannesburg)
I have one of these, along with its backpack case. Still worked last time I tried it. Wasn''t masochistic enough to try the modem. Plays Prince of Persia just fine though.
Saturday 10th November 2012
Tristan Mumford (Australia)
PPC 512 / 640
BUILT IN LANGUAGE
complete 102 key QWERTY mechanical keyboard With numeric keypad, editing block and function keys
PPC-512 : 512 KB PPC-640 : 640 KB
40 or 80 chars x 25 lines
320 or 640 x 200 dots
Monochrome green - 4 or 16 colours with external monitor
SIZE / WEIGHT
45 x 23 x 10 cm / 6 kg
Centronics, RS232, CGA Monitor, Expansion ports A (25 pin port just bigger than a parallel port) and B (37 pin RS494)
BUILT IN MEDIA
One or Two 3.5'' floppy-drives (720 KB)
MS DOS 3.2 or 3.3, GEM, Q-DOS II (menu driven interface)
10 x C cell batteries
Mouse Systems driver
PPC 512 - 2 disk drives : 6500 F (France, dec. 1987) PPC 640 - 2 disk drives : 7697 F (France, dec. 1987)