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A > AMSTRAD  > PC 1640   

PC 1640

The Amstrad PC 1640 was the successor to the Amstrad PC 1512. It had the same characteristics as its predecessor except for added memory (640 KB instead of 512 KB) and the EGA graphics standard.

It also had great success, but to a lesser extent than the PC 1512. As the PC 1512, the Amstrad PC 1640 came with the GEM graphical user interface, from Digital Research, an alternative to Windows.

The PC-1640 was marketed under the name PC-6400 in the USA. It was also sold in Germany and maybe some other European countries under the name Schneider.

Three different kinds of monitors where supported, monochrome (-> Hercules), low-res (max 640 x 200) and hi-res (max 640 x 350). The hi-res monitor had a fan for the power supply as opposed to the other monitors which where fan-less. With the low-res monitor you could choose between a full CGA compatible mode (required for many CGA games) and an EGA mode (used for 640 x 200 x 16 eg. for GEM or 320 x 200 x 16 for several games).


Contributors: André Janz

Charles Da Silva adds:
The 1640 was first introduced in the US and after a few months in Europe (which infuriated the British media, some of them having already been harsh critics on the 1512 : fan problems - forgetting that since the PSU was in the monitor, it was not needed - not 'fully' compatible as it was then thought. All of this proved to come from IBM itself, which made Alan Sugar really angry).
You can find all this info in 'Alan Sugar' from late D. Thomas.

Ex Cathedra's memories:
I did a large amount of development on these machines in the late 80s. They were surprisingly good, with only a few bugs and incompatibilities with the IBM PC standard. Bearing in mind the price differential, we had no problems living with these.
The RTC and BIOS settings were preserved by 4xAA batteries under the monitor - a configuration I wish we still had today! There was a minor (patchable) bug in the BIOS which caused a div/0 error at midnight each night if you'd left it running a long compilation...

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I was teaching spotty teenagers database sand spreadsheets, and programming in BASIC, at a govt funded private training college . We bought 24 of these machines. They had 640k of RAM, and 1 megabyte hard drive. AMstrad made thiier own hard drives originally, and they would run so hot the plastic on the front of the HDD would soften up, and you could leave your thumbprint in it. ALL the HDD''s failed after three months and were repalced with Toshiba Drives.

The other faill was the platters on the drives would expand with heat, so if you formatted the drive when it was cold, it then wouldnt be able to read the tracks when the drive was hot, and vice versa.

At the same time i remember British Gas was going to buy half a million of them , then backed out when they discovered the power cables had no earth wire.

Tuesday 28th January 2020
Steve Skepper (UK)


EGA is the minimum requirements for a PC not to be considered poop.


Wednesday 14th December 2016
Misses Robata

I bought one of these through and American Express deal back in the late 80s. It was a surprisingly competent machine, and I ran some very complex simulations for regenerative braking and for composite materials with it. Turbo Pascal was my platform of choice, and some of my simulations could keep this machine cranking for over an hour. But it always worked. Looking back, those were good times.

Thursday 17th March 2016
Jim (Boston, USA)


NAME  PC 1640
TYPE  Professional Computer
ORIGIN  United Kingdom
YEAR  1986
CPU  Intel 8086
SPEED  8 mHz
RAM  640 KB
VRAM  256 KB ?
ROM  64 KB
TEXT MODES  40 x 25 / 80 x 25
GRAPHIC MODES  All EGA graphic modes (maximum : 640 x 350)
Hercules mode for monochrome versions (maximum 720 by 350)
COLORS  16 among 64
SOUND  Beeper
I/O PORTS  Four 8-bit ISA slots (one being reserved of the internal HD controller), Centronics, RS232c, Mouse port (proprietary)
BUILT IN MEDIA  one or two 5.25'' disk-drives, 20 or 30 MB HDD
OS  MS DOS 3.2
PERIPHERALS  Most of the standard IBM/PC cards

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