Mar 16, 2012
It’s Arnold versus the Speccy. In the blue corner we have the Amstrad CPC464 released in 1984 with 64k of RAM (42k available to the user) and in the red corner, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum originally released in 1982 with 16k of RAM but was punching above its weight in 1984 with the release of the 48k Spectrum+ version.
Despite having a higher available RAM, the ZX Spectrum was lagging behind on older architecture and it showed in the graphical performance. With the Spectrum limited to cyan, yellow, green red, and magenta (and black and white) the Amstrad scores early points with a base of 16 colours which became expandable up to 4096.
Oof! Body blow followed by a series of jabs means the Amstrad takes this round.
With both machines utilising the three channel AY-3-8912 chip this round is a draw.
Although both platforms were heavily supported by hardware developers the disparity in market share was soon reflected in the titles that were being developed. Due to being in circulation for two years before the Amstrad entered the market, the ZX Spectrum maintained the lead in the amount of units in circulation. The Amstrad CPC464 was very successful with over two million units sold in its lifecycle. However, many developers chose to concentrate on the Spectrum as its lead platform and then port the code to the Amstrad and the Commodore 64.
Although titles that were developed specifically for the Amstrad were technically stunning for the time, it was the Spectrum that showed true stamina, leaving Amstrad puffing on the ropes.
This final round goes to the Spectrum.
But wait…. the gloves are off. There appears to be some commotion and I think someone just had a spit bucket thrown at them…. Yes, it appears that in 1986 Amstrad bought the Sinclair business and released what can only be described as the bastard child of a Speccy/Arnold coupling, and called it the Spectrum +2.
DING DING DING! Fight abandoned.
Seriously, the Amstrad was the technologically more advanced machine but couldn’t break the market share that Sinclair had already gained in the two year prior to release. If both machines had been released at the same time then it would have come down to which company had the better marketing. Much like Betamax versus VHS. Betamax was a better video quality, but VHS won the day through better market share.
A modern example would be Xbox360 and PS3.