By 1992, once fast-growing Amstrad was struggling. Its reputation as a PC maker
had been undermined by a batch of dodgy Seagate disk drives at the same time
that bigger-name vendors were engaged in a price war, squeezing Amstrad out of
The NC 100, NC 150 and NC 200 were three products that its founder Alan Sugar was hoping would help revive the company's fortunes.
Cutting edge, they were not. Both were based on old eight-bit Zilog Z80
microprocessors. Curiously, both machines came with a BBC Basic interpreter on
which users could develop their own applications.
The NC 100 was a £199 notebook computer the size of a piece of A4 paper, with a full size keyboard and a "letterbox" screen at the top, offering 80 columns by 8 lines.
It had an RS232 serial port and a Centronics parallel port for printer and communications. Built-in were 64 kilobytes of memory, expandable to 1 megabyte with the addition of an add-on memory card.
"If you can't use this new computer in five minutes, you'll get your money
back," boasted the company in its launch advertising. For ease of use, it had
four colour-coded keys giving instant access to a number of built-in
applications, including a word processor, calculator, diary and address book.
At a time when an entry-level lap-top computer cost more than £2,000 and the
sub-notebook had not been invented, the NC100 and NC200 offered a good value
alternative for those with basic computing needs, such as word processing on the move.
All the NC computers were made in Japan by Nakajima. The company also sold its own version of the NC-100, called ES-210.
Thanks to Graeme Burton for information about NC series computers.
I purchased an NC 100 around 1994 for 200,- DM (approx. 100,- EUR) in a local electronic store. It served me for more than two years in my studies where I used it to type the lectures directly into the system. With all my classmates writing by hand this was really exotic back those days. I used kind of a "simplified" LaTeX notation which I converted into "real" LaTeX on my computer at home using some scripts in a Linux environment. this setup allowed me to type even complex mathematical formulas almost error-free in realtime!
I still have the device and while not using it any more today, I will keep it - it was my first "Laptop"...
Saturday 1st November 2008
Dirk Hillbrecht (Germany)
The Amstrad NC-100 is closely related to the Tandy WP2 in that both have have mainboard manufactured by Citizen CBM Division. As a collector, I recently aquired an NC100. I found the display rather dim, but everything else about the unit was impressive. I have since aquired Citizen Hi-Contrast displays for the NC100. I upgraded my unit and it looks great and very crisp. If anyone is interested I can do the same for them. Please visit my Amstrad NC100 page at: http://www.8bit-micro.com/amstrad-nc100.htm