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S > SINCLAIR  > PC 200   

PC 200

The Sinclair PC 200 was one of the last computers built under the Sinclair brand (along with the PC-500). In fact it was not a Sinclair at all, but a desktop version of the Amstrad PPC-512.

The case bore a striking resemblance to the Atari 520 ST case. It had a built-in 3.5" floppy drive on the right and mouse and joystick ports under the keyboard. And indeed the PC-200 was officially marketed as an Atari 520-ST competitor : same price, same disk drive, same memory (512k) and same design.

But compared to the Amiga and 520-ST, the PC-200 looked like a naked pea, even for an IBM compatible. Its two ISA slots were not enough to reasonably expand the system. Standard IBM expansion cards were nearly twice the height of the computer, thus the computer needed to be opened permanently!
In 1988, the MDA and CGA graphic modes were quite obsolete as most PC systems had adopted the more convenient EGA mode.

An interesting feature of the PC-200 was a TV output socket at the rear of the system, quite rare for a PC compatible system. It shows that Amstrad wanted to market the PC-200 as a low-range PC compatible system for the whole family.

At the same time, Amstrad presented the PC 20, which was in fact the same computer as the Sinclair PC 200 except for the color of the case (black for the Sinclair, white for the Amstrad) and the TV output (not implemented on the PC-20).

Angus WR Gullivers reports to us :
The Sinclair PC200 had absolutely no success, it bombed and was withdrawn very quickly from the market. It was advertised for only about 3 months. It was released to poor reviews because of its lack of expansion possibilities and use of CGA graphics when EGA and VGA were already available.

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I remember being the only 'computer head' in the electrical store I worked in - I was always trying to learn EVERYTHING about the systems we sold. I remember when the PC-200 came in 2 of them - with instructions that both were to be displayed NON-FUNCTIONING - with no product information. If we sold those 2 - we would be sent more (so we had to sell the display models FIRST - an impossibility for a new product). We called head office - they had no information - just a memo saying 'show the customer the box - it contains all the information they need to know' (ie - nothing - just the price!) Eventually we got a visitor from head office - who basically told us that we had to sell them or else the product would fail. It turned out - we had the only 2 in the whole region. When he discovered that (inevitably) most of the box content had gone 'missing' (pilfered by local urchins) he threw the two machines into a bin-bag - got in his car and left - with the 2 computers! Needless to say - the whole PC200 line lasted less time than it took for our laughter to subside!

Friday 25th August 2006
Christian Sculpher (Earth)

I remember having this particular model of PC which a late friend purchased from a shop in Nottingham in 1990 and was in use until 1996 when it was taken over by multimedia systems, It was very heavy as I recall with the single disk drive and I always had to remember to remove the software program before $ing the disk to save the file I had created with the Mini Office 3 software. Mainly used the database / word / spreadsheet applications and data was stored on the 720 KB disks, later the 1.44 KB disks. I spent hours processing handwritten notes until the wee small hours monopolizing the PC. It was great fun to use with a Star LC20 LQ printer and I learned the various DOS commands to perform a variety of tasks including the commands for laying out the documents in Word Processor on this model of PC which was very new to me as I had never used a computer until then. Had to let the PC go to the Bletchley Park Museum as it was taking up space many years ago not so long after my friend/flatmate passed on. Was told by the guy from Bletchley Park that this model was a rare one, and for the American Market, which I did not know at the time when it was purchased. I still have the GW Basics book but not the DOS manual as that went with the PC when donated, along with the Mini Office Manual. The mouse that came with it I found years later and sold it on eBay for over £57.

Wednesday 15th June 2022
Paul (England)

This was my first PC (previously I owned a C64 and an Atari 800XL), I bought it on Spring 1990 in Finland for about ~2200 FIM (maybe about £250 or so). The main selling point of this computer was of course the CHEAP PRICE. Other PC models were much more expensive, even the cheapest ones were about 2-3 times more (including monitor). I didn''t have a monitor, I used my small TV set. Amiga and Atari ST were about the same price range, but this Sinclair PC200 was a REAL PC and not a "toy home computer" like the Amiga and ST.. $) It felt cool to own "a real business computer". $) Of course the Amiga and ST had some benefits over this like better build-in graphics and sound, but the PC200 had a faster CPU and a larger (especially business oriented) software library. And it was A REAL PC. $)

And I was only slightly sarcastic... I actually used the PC200 for real work like desktop publishing (on a DTP software over GEM, called "Finesse") and it performed adequately. I also played many games, and while gaming wasn''t as great in general as with the 16-bit home computers, it did have a faster CPU which allowed better frame rates in flight simulators etc., which I especially liked playing.

At some point I replaced the Siemens 8086 processor with a compatible NEC V20 processor, which increased performance about 10-20$ at the same clock speed. I also built a "Covox" parallel port D/A converter (sound card), which provided an Amiga-like sound for pennies. Not many software titles supported it, but at least I could play and compose MOD music with it.

So basically I have really fond memories of this computer, but I only owned it for 1,5 years, after which I upgraded to a 286 VGA machine. But PC200 was the machine I learned my PC basics with and it provided me a head start on the modern computing era compared to the Amiga nerds. $)

Sunday 29th September 2019
Finnish nerd (Finland)


NAME  PC 200
TYPE  Professional Computer
ORIGIN  United Kingdom
YEAR  1988
BUILT IN LANGUAGE  MS-DOS, Digital Research GEM desktop, Organiser software
KEYBOARD  Full-stroke keyboard with numeric keypad (102 keys)
CPU  Intel 8086
CO-PROCESSOR  optional 8087 maths coprocessor
RAM  512 KB (up to 640 KB)
ROM  16 KB
TEXT MODES  40 or 80 columns x 25 lines
GRAPHIC MODES  320 x 200 / 640 x 200, CGA and MDA graphic modes
SOUND  beeper
I/O PORTS  Centronics, RGB, RS232, Mouse, Joystick, 8 bit ISA slots (2)
BUILT IN MEDIA  3.5'' floppy drive (720k)
PRICE  300£ (UK, 1988)

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