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Saturday, 9 April 2016

Welcome...


A big shout out and welcome to those who have found their way here. Basically; I'm aiming to cover all things retro, along with many current systems. I choose to focus primarily on the CPC and Speccy, as simply put... these were my first computers. The C64, Amiga, Snes, Megadrive and other excellent gaming platforms will also get a special mention. All the systems bring back fabulous memories, and at some stage I hope to cover them all...
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Finally bought the New Sega Megadrive

We all remember the impact of the SEGA Mega Drive, also known as the Sega Genesis in the US. All the cool kids had one, it was the best thing since sliced bread, until the SNES arrived. But now it's back, in fact its been back a while, but these things can't be rushed, especially when you consider the time needed, to properly sit down and give all those lovely iconic classics, a thorough going over. 

For instance, game titles include: Sonic the Hedgehog, the legendary Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Altered Beast, and more importantly, Mortal Kombat! Back in the day, the Megadrive really excited me, it looked and played better than any computer or game console before it, and for the first time, I can remember thinking, ‘how games have come a long way, and looked on par with those from the arcade’. 

This new model comes bundled with two wireless controllers, power cables and AV connectivity. There's a total of eighty built-in games, which should keep anyone happy. But for hardcore collectors, there's also the option to play multi region cartridges, and every game I've tried thus far, works perfectly, unlike the Megadrive portable.  

There’s no ear phone jack,The wireless controllers feel a bit cheap, and buttons have that annoying clickety-click when pressed, but they do give a solid in game performance. For the ultimate experience, the system allows you to pick up, and plug in original controllers, this for me is magnificent, as I've kept a few of my original controllers, and it was great to play with 'em once more, after years of gathering dust. 

So a big thank you to Apex and AtGames, for bringing back an old flame of mine, that looks and feels just as good as I remember. Well worth the investment, and great for the kids to get into. 

What others have said:

Good value for money
Hours of fun playing retro games from the 80/90's. Unfortunately the joypads are cordless, and unless your actually pointing at the console, you lose contact. There are ports to plug in controllers tho. Also theres a game slot so if theres any sega game you miss playing, its still possible to plug in. Very lightweight and easy to assemble. We took this away with us for the weekend to keep kids entertained. Small and compact.

Katy

Great retro gaming system
Brought this to play with my sons, brings back many a good memory of playing Sega Megadrive with my brother and sister back in the day...good console but the some of the built in games are a bit naff, but then again for £50 and 80 games I cannot grumble really.
Charles

Of the built-in games, below are classics you'll want to play:

– Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
– Alien Storm
– Altered Beast
– Arrow Flash
– Bonanza Bros.
– Chakan: The Forever Man
– Columns
– Columns III
– Comix Zone
– Crack Down
– Decap Attack
– Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
– Ecco
– Ecco 2: The Tides Of Time
– Ecco Jr
– ESWAT: City Under Seige
– Eternal Champions
– Fatal Labyrinth
– Flicky
– Gain Ground
– Golden Axe
– Golden Axe II
– Golden Axe III
– Jewel Master
– Kid Chameleon
– Ristar
– Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
– Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
– StreetsOfRage 1
– StreetsOfRage 2
– StreetsOfRage 3
– Sonic & Knuckles
– Sonic Spinball
– Sonic the Hedgehog
– Sonic the Hedgehog II
– Sonic 3D Blast – Flickie’s Island
– The Ooze
– Vectorman
– Vectorman II

– Virtua Fighter II
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Saturday, 5 March 2016

2016... The year of Nintendo


I’m not the worlds biggest Nintendo fan, but of late, the software being released, has started to massively turn my head. For instance, I’ve spent the last couple of nights, and early hours of the morning, playing the awfully spectacular Bravely Second: End Layer, Stella Glow, Kid Icarus: Uprising and now the all new Demo, Hyrule Warriors Legends… What’s happening within Nintendo?

The latter plays like a bunch of retro games all carefully stitched into one, at times you feel like there’s a bit of Gauntlet going on, a touch of Smash TV and bags of Sword of the Berserk. The rest, including strategy elements, borrowed from the best games of Nintendo's past. It's early days, but the demo has definitely got me excited. 

I’m desperate for more, shame the demo doesn’t last long, I completed it in less than thirty minutes, especially when you consider i’m still playing the demo version of Bravely Second, and already several hours in. Still, I’m really excited about the 3DS, especially as SEGA seem hell bent on releasing nearly every game from their back catalogue of games, a new welcomed arrival being Power Drift! But I have to ask, where's Turbo Outrun???  


2016 could be the year of Nintendo, especially if their trend of diverse software continues to grow, and let's not forget the NX…  
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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A brave new world: the 1980s home computer boom

From iPads to wafer-thin laptops, home computers (in one form or another) are today commonplace. But when did we first embrace this technology? Tom Lean, the author ofElectronic Dreams: How 1980s Britain Learned to Love the Computer, investigates…

In the early 1980s computers invaded British homes for the first time, a wave of cheap and futuristic devices that allowed millions of people to discover for themselves what a computer was. These fantastic machines, like the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Acorn Electron and Commodore 64, promised to make computing user-friendly for the first time. They were expected to reveal the wonders of information technology to the masses, and bring about a revolution in homes, schools, and workplaces. But to what extent did the electronic dreams these machines were sold on actually come true? What impact did home computers have on our lives in the 1980s?

Read the full article here:

http://www.historyextra.com/article/history-1980s-home-computer-boom-brave-new-world
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Dave Needle, Original Amiga Engineer and Creator of the Atari Lynx and 3DO, Dies

Dave Needle, an important figure in the computer and video game industries who designed three different hardware releases, has died.
Needle died last Friday of natural causes according to RJ Mical, a longtime friend and former business partner.
Needle was instrumental in creating the first Amiga personal computer, known as the Amiga 1000. The Amiga first released in July 1985. While Microsoft was developing its new Windows operating system for PCs and Apple was further establishing itself with the first “Macintosh,” Commodore’s original Amiga was considered ahead of its time because of its almost unrivaled and ground-breaking multitasking abilities along with advanced sound, video graphics and multimedia features.
Read more here:

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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Ground Zero Amstrad CPC

Ground Zero is a game that has kept me captivated since its release, it's taken me years to complete, of which I am highly embarrassed. So, after decades of trying, I've finally beaten it. It wasn't easy either, take too much time and you die of radiation poising, go too quickly, and you run out of energy. Everything is against you, and you only have thirty minutes to diffuse a nuclear bomb! One of Tynesoft's finest games, shame more didn't exist like this.




Video available here, just click play...






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1983: The Year Video Games Died

I'm sitting here, searching through Youtube, and stumbled across a great little movie, about the video game industry crash of 1983. I really think it paints an accurate picture, and explores the mismanagement from Atari, lacklustre 3rd party titles, and the blame game that ensued upon ET. I didn't know this, but apparently Atari nearly formed a distribution partnership with Nintendo for the whole of America, until Nintendo decided they would go it alone. It also talks about how the European computer games market didn't even notice the crash, and how we happily continued playing Manic Miner and Jetpac. 

Give the documentary a watch by clicking on the video below...  


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C4CPC 3D Cartridge Quick Guide


My #‎C4CPC Blank Cartridge cover arrived today, on my Birthday. Total cost £10, but that's because postage is really high. I had to file a few things down to get it to fit, but on the whole, it's a worthwhile project, and to say i'm happy with it, is an understatement. None of this would have been possible, without the help of the guys from the CPC Community. 


So, you want a 3D Cartridge to house your C4CPC, well, the best place to get started, is head over to CPCwiki, there you will find a page with a complete list of games and applications that are available, and any new developments on the design, or update for the C4CPC cart. 

Games available, can be found at: 
http://cpcwiki.eu/index.php/Converted_GX4000_games  

Information on the 3D Design of the cart can be found here:

http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/amstrad-cpc-hardware/c4c4c-3d-printed-cartridge/msg120726/#msg120726

The above links will help to get you started, and the second link, at the beginning of the topic, provides details for the 3D design download you'll need to submit to the 3D Printer. 

These are the files you'll need, two separate files need submitting for top and bottom design. 

C4CPC2_bot.stl
C4CPC2_top.stl

This is the direct download link, but not sure it will work from here: 


another link here:


Once you've got everything you need, here's a special offer below, so your first print is free:  

Word of warning! Not all 3D printers are the same, quality and accuracy of the printer can cause problems.

I love 3D Hubs. Use my referral link to get $10 for your first 3D print!http://3dhubs.refr.cc/RQR86JT via @3dhubs
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Friday, 19 February 2016

Sam's Journey, new C64 game

About The Game

Sam's Journey is a brand-new original scrolling platform game developed for the Commodore 64 home computer. It's about a cute little hero called Sam who finds himself on an unexpected journey in a strange world.

Guide Sam through many different locations such as deep forests, hot deserts or frozen mountains! Find hidden gems and discover secret passages, but beware of the creatures!

Sam can run, jump, climb and swim. He can pick up items, carry them around and throw them at enemies. And with the power of special costumes, Sam completely changes his appearance and gains additional skills! 


See game in action here! 


Information taken from 
http://www.knights-of-bytes.com/sams-journey

Genre: Scrolling Platform Game
Platform: Commodore 64, PAL Version
Media: 5.25" Disk or Cartridge 
Status: In Development 
Estimated Release: First Half 2016 
Where To Buy: To Be Announced
Website: http://www.knights-of-bytes.com/sams-journey


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Thursday, 18 February 2016

The Last UFO - Amstrad Game WIP

Amstrad PIXELS: The Last UFO - Amstrad Game WIP http://amstrad-pixels.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-last-ufo-amstrad-game-wip.html?spref=tw

Apparently, things are progressing nicely, and the programmer is looking to program this game for the C64 and ZX Spectrum as well. 




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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Free Monster Maze T-shirt

Can you think of the best caption for this image? The best caption get's it printed on a T-Shirt and sent to them for free! Competition ends midnight, Saturday the 20th...


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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

ULTIMA - Amstrad CPC

It's a beautiful, but simple game! Moving through the dungeons, whilst keeping an eye out for thieves, and more importantly food reserves, really elevates it above all other adventures. I really do love these types of games, because for me, by in large, the Ultima series is similar to reading a book, you have to engage with your surroundings, and really use your imagination. I also like how well the programmer portrayed moving through the Dungeons, it's really convincing, almost a game in its own right, you won't get lost, and there's a genuine feel of exploration and danger around every corner, and behind every door. I prefer this vector style approach, more so than the latter games in the series, that preferred a 2D approach. I wish they'd have continued with the hybrid 2D and 3D look and feel to the game, in a Driller-esque sort of way. Regardless, I love this new addition to the CPC, and more importantly, here's hoping for more Ultima games for the CPC.
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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The new ZX VEGA Review

Processor: ARM SOC 

Memory: 16MB SD RAM
Storage: 64MB Flash Storage
Website: http://retro-computers.co.uk/vega/


What's it all about:

It was originally produced by Retro Computers as part of a crowd funded idea to produce a ZX Spectrum clone, that could connect directly into any TV set. Many people have likened it to the DTV64. The difference being that the Vega includes 1000 games and a hardware specific interface, built into the circuit board that allows for future software upgrades. Chris Smith developed the Vega, a former Speccy developer, for his sins. 

The good bits:

It runs nearly every game I've thrown at it, TAP files included. It's an all-in-one solution that plugs nicely into your telly, using composite or SCART (additional SCART connector needed). The build quality isn't as bad as what others have made out, it looks and feels alright to me. The menu system looks basic in design, but it actually works really well, and there's really cool music playing in the background. There's one thousand games to sift through, and the vast majority of games I've tried thus far, work just as good as the real thing, in some cases better. There's a Micro-SD slot, where you can easily upload thousands more. The Vega also automatically maps additional games to the Kempston setup, It can sometimes be a bit hit and miss, but for the most part, helps to make the whole experience that little bit less cumbersome. Games can also be saved, allowing you to pop out and resume from where you left off. The ZX Vega experience is powered by USB, so you'll need a USB power source if playing on an old CRT.  

The bad bits:


It's really difficult to play classics such as Skool Daze, or any adventure game for that matter, as the console device lacks a true Qwerty keyboard. The built in keyboard just isn't appropriate for this type of game. The other issue comes with the selection of games preloaded, these aren't the games that used to set our pulses racing, don't get me wrong, there's a few classics in there, but unfortunately there's a heck of a lot that ain't. There's also two big ugly wires, falling out the back of the Vega, and get this, they've omitted an HDMI connector.
     

Alternatives:

You can play ZX Spectrum games on nearly every device out there, PSP, NDS, and on the PC for free. There's also the really good 'Spectaculator' http://www.spectaculator.com/ available for PC, iPAD and Android. 


Should I get one?

I've had it a while now, but delayed my review, as I wanted to fully test it. The emulation is spot on, and it's great for taking away on holiday. I've played some classic Speccy games, I didn't even know existed, games I definitely wouldn't have played if not for the Vega. Classics such as Jetpac, Death Chase (Download) and R-type (Download) have never felt so good. But because of the high price of £99, and cumbersome control issue's when trying to play adventure games, unfortunately I can't recommend it. 


Personally, for me, I think it's great, and hopefully they'll make similar devices for the C64 or Amstrad CPC in the future. You can see a full list of pre-loaded games by clicking on the web address above.    

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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

SEGA MEGADRIVE - Arcade Ultimate Portable


Company: ATGames 

Model: Sega Megadrive Arcade Portable 

I’m just gonna go ahead and say it, I really like this portable, it's brilliant, I love it! 

But despite what I’ve just said, I can’t really recommended it retro fans, for several key reasons:

Is it any good? 

If this was a review based solely on the device and twenty bundled games, I’d maybe have no issue with recommending it to everyone. But unfortunately, it’s never as simple as that, and it would be unfair of me to recommend something without exposing some of the terrible issues, I’ve bumped into along the way. 

For one, I’m unable to save my game progress on any game I’ve come across, which tells me that compatibility isn’t up to the standard I’d expect for a paid product in 2016. And, unfortunately, I’ve now played several of my favourite games, including Contra 3, Outrunners and Lotus Turbo Challenge, only to find all of them highly unplayable, for many different reasons. I’d say for every ten games I’ve played thus far, one refuses to work, despite everything I try.

State of play? 

That said, there’s some real positives, it plays every region, the screen is really good, but only works at one brightness, ‘very bright’. There’s a headphone jack, essential, and an AV port, allowing you to plug directly into your TV, it works really well, once you’ve purchased the cable. A big plus is that batteries are not included, because you don’t need ‘em, it’s a rechargeable device, that last’s a few good hours before needing a charge. Don’t leave it too long though, as once the battery runs out, so does your game progress. 

I would still really like one?  

One of the game’s I looked forward to playing, was Outrun, and for the most part it plays like a demon, but there’s a massive problem with the music, it just sounds completely out of step, which is a shame, as the music in Outrun is a big puller for me. There’s also problems with many of my favourite Megadrive games, Stargate for instance, the game doesn’t allow me to run and jump, absolutely necessary in this type of game, believe me! The button just doesn’t appear to be configured, and I can’t find a way to configure it. The internal speaker sounds more like a buzzer, head phones improve things a little, but it might just put most folk off.   

How does it control? 

The D-Pad feels really responsive, as do the six buttons you’ll probably never use. But they’re really noisy. And if like me, you like to play games in bed, whilst the wife or girlfriend nods off, this will really piss ‘em off, as it wakes her up every time, worst still, our baby in no time at all. 

Final thoughts? 


The games bundled with the portable device work amazingly well, and for the most part, so do the games I’ve downloaded, but what I find acceptable, unfortunately other people might not. This is purely for the gaming enthusiast on the go, who just wants to experience the past, in a massive back catalogue, from his back pocket, without spending a small fortune.  

What other people have noticed:

Non-Working
--------------
Eternal Champions – Works for about a minute then freezes
Nba Jam TE – *Certain builds work perfectly*
Power Instinct – Crashes after the first round.
Vectorman 2 – Works briefly, then freezes
Virtua Racing – Doesn’t work
VR Troopers – Boots, then character sprites disappear, and then the game just crashes.
Zool - Works briefly, then freezes

Myths
-------
Comix Zone doesn’t work? False. It works
Earthworm Jim 2 doesn’t work? False. It works.
Ghouls And Ghosts doesn’t work? False. It works
Mega Man: The Wily Wars doesn’t work? False. Certain builds work perfectly.
Super Street Fighter 2 doesn’t work? False. It works.
Streets Of Rage 3 doesn’t work? False. It works.
PAL titles don’t work? False. They work.

Partially Working
----------------
Adventures Of Batman & Robin – Works fine, but occasionally the sound will stop. It will go back to normal after a game over or going to the next level though.
Clay Fighter - Works, but will not let you control it unless using TV-Out. Works normally through TV-Out.
Contra Hard Corps – Works, but glitchy. You might die without knowing why
Double Dragon 3 – Works, but 1st player sprite is slightly garbled.
Fatal Fury 2 - Works, but will not let you control it unless using TV-Out. Works normally through TV-Out.
Lion King – Works, but glitchy graphics. Sprites often slightly garbled or you see double.
Mortal Kombat 3 – Works, but doesn’t let you do special moves. Works normally through TV-Out, however.
Ms. Pac Man – Unplayable unless using TV-Out.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 – Same as MK3
Virtua Fighter 2 - Works, but ground flickers. Does not affect gameplay
Zombies Ate My Neighbors - Works, but will not let you control it unless using TV-Out. Works normally through TV-Out.

Other Notes
-------------
-As you can see above, some builds/versions of games work, while some games have no chance of working. For example, NBA Jam TE will work on a certain build, but no version of Eternal Champions will.
-Let me know if you want anymore games tested or if you know of some that do not work!
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Friday, 25 December 2015

Turbo Outrun Arcade - Play-through


Classic Replay takes one of the finest racers of all time... For a spin, in HD!





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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Goodbye to the Cast - Amstrad CPC


It's official, the Amstrad is still alive! Don't believe me, well, here's the proof, a new platformer from '4MHZ'.

Our protagonist looks miffed, but in a take no prisoners sort of way. Skyscrapers tower the skyline, as you watch well detailed animated sprites play out before you. The inhabitant of this sparsely coloured world seems to be a happy chappy, despite being short, with a big head, pony tail and a sometimes blue appearance.

Relax, it's not a kids game, and you'd be making a big mistake if you didn't at least give it a try. You see, if you can handle the horrific Speccy looking graphics, you're in for a treat. As this game is a cracking little platforming adventure.

I've no idea what the plot involves, something along the lines of getting revenge, but it seems to me that you need to travel around, kill and collect things in order to progress. All you really need to know, is that you run and jump around a fabulously detailed 128K world, collecting shiny things and killing evil people. The basic running around stuff feels so smooth, and the jumping and running can be controlled with amazing accuracy.

As a platform game, there's plenty here to keep you going for several hours. It feels like Donkey Kong, but set free in a flip scroll adventure. There's Donkey Kong like moments where you barrel jump over the enemy and climb ladders to the next enticing collectable, cleverly placed to test your lightening fast reactions. The only real problems I've found, is that the game doesn't scroll, and for some ghastly reason, they've used the Amstrad's 'shite' resolution instead of the sixteen colour mode.

Highly enjoyable, with good staying power, I just need one more go!      












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Monday, 21 December 2015

Acorn Archimedes - Classic Computer

Company: Acorn 

Model: Archimedes 

Was it any good? 

Acorn first released the 300 and 400 series of 32bit RISC technology in 1987. These early models used what’s known as the ’Arthur OS’, but was later replaced and renamed to the newer developed RISC OS 2. The 8MHz ARM 2 was about 25x faster than the BBC B, 15x faster than an original PC and 6x faster than a PC AT on benchmarks. On performance alone, Archie had the Atari ST, and even the mighty Amiga well beaten. The CPU uses the wonderful ARM chip, which is still in use today. What’s that? It only has one hardware sprite? Who cares! Especially when you have this much processing power! Resolutions available range from 320 x 256 or 640 x 256 with normal monitors, but higher resolutions are possible. There’s a colour palette of 4096 available, with 256 available on screen, depending upon resolution. Models such as the 310 included (1MB), 3000 (512K), 410 (1MB), 420 (2MB) and 440 (Includes 4mb Ram and H.D.D.        

How’s it sound?

16 channels (eight left and eight right). Six-Octave (a bit weak, narrow range). Two built in speakers (average quality), but output can be played through the monitor. When used to its full potential, sound quality was probably the best of any home computer. Unfortunately; it can take massive amounts of effort for the programmer to get anything sounding half decent, this is down to the high amount of processing time needed to realise its full capabilities. 

Should I still get one? 

If you can find one, at a reasonable price, why not. But it lacked a seriously good commercial presence and there’s no joystick support unless you buy an external add-on. The Archie’s best games really stood out, Starfighter 3000, PacMania, Time Zone, E-Type, Iron Lord, Super 8-ball, SWIV,  Revolver, Chocks away, Power Band, Sensi Soccer, Chaos, Saloon Cars Deluxe, Zarch and Conqueror. The 'best' version of Elite was made for the 32bit Acorns.     

What to look for? 

Warning for all models, although a leaky battery is perfectly normal, leaky battery acid will destroy everything in its path, if left unattended! I’d personally look out for the 400 series, as the A305 in my opinion doesn’t have enough memory. But if you can find one, and space and money are no object, go for the the well kitted out higher end RISC series. The A3000, A3010, A3020 are shaped similar to the Amiga, and replaced the 300 series, but make sure you go for one with a HDD. The latter A3000 is surprisingly more upgradeable due to a larger case and clever board design. They are also much tidier and can live on almost any desk or table. In comparison, the A400 series was considered the more serious computer. You had H.D.D’s as standard. I don’t know much about the A540, but although superficially similar, it was marketed as a much more serious computer and capable of 16mb of ram. The A5000 is much speedier, shinier, with a higher density FDD, HDD. Giving the best compatibility with 3.5” software, I’m talking games, and the A5000 can take 8mb of ram.  

Homebrew / Emulation?

There’s quite a good demo scene, emulation is near compatible with ‘RPCEmu’ and a stable favourite, but my choice would be Arculator, a much more accurate emulation, but you’ll need the appropriate Acorn Risc bios files. 

These sites will help you out:

http://www.old-computers.com/news/default.asp 
http://www.mcmordie.co.uk/acornhistory/index.shtml 
http://www.iconbar.com/ 
http://www.acornarcade.com/ 

http://acorn.chriswhy.co.uk/

More Specs: 

The ARCHIMEDES range includes the 300 Series and the more sophisticated 400 Series. All machines have features in common: • 32 bit RISC technology; • ergonomically styled in a 3 box presentation; • 'IBM enhanced' style keyboard with 3 button mouse; • British Broadcasting Corporation Micro style operating system (ARTHUR); • BBC BASIC V; • interfaces: printer, serial, monitor, stereo sound; • ECONET plug-in option; • a variety of modules can be fitted. THE 300 SERIES The 300 Series, identified by its red function keys, consists of two models, ARCHIMEDES 305 with 0.5 Mbyte of RAM and ARCHIMEDES 310 with 1 Mbyte of RAM. These machines are the latest generation of British Broadcasting Corporation Micros. They offer, at low cost, all the basic features with expansion capabilities. Both machines have a 512 Kbyte ROM and a 1 Mbyte (unformatted) 3½" disc drive. THE 400 SERIES The more powerful 400 Series offers considerably increased expansion capabilities. These machines are the new range of Acorn Computers. The ARCHIMEDES 410 has 1 Mbyte of RAM; I Mbyte (unformatted) 3½” disc drive; a hardware floating point unit option; a co-processor bus; a hard disc controller; a four socket back plane; 512 Kbytes of ROM. At the top of the range is ARCHIMEDES 440. This machine possesses all the features of the 410 as standard, with the adoption of 4 Mbytes of RAM and a 20 Mbyte hard disc. ARCHIMEDES is an open system and its flexibility is achieved by fitting any of the following modules (peripheral modules) via a back plane: • hard disc controller (300 Series only); • ROM extension board; • MIDI music interface; • SCSI; • hardware floating point unit; • Ethernet module. Third party suppliers will be meeting other user requirements. 


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