PCW-series Technical Details and Trivia


  • (different for each model)


Technical Facts

  • Although the Z80 could only access a maximum of 64K of memory, a total of 256K, or even 512K could be installed on a PCW, and using bank switching the PCW could access the extended physical memory.
  • The first PCWs circuit boards came with just 11 devices plus 8 memory chips. This was because the disk controllers, video logic, and everything else needed were integrated into a single gate array chip.



  • The codename of "Joyce" for the PCW series was named after Alan Sugar's secretary at the time.
  • The choice of using the then outdated Zilog Z80 chip was simple economics. The cost per unit had dropped to around $1 for the Z80, whereas the more popular 16-bit Intel 8086 CPU still cost $10 per unit. The other side-effect against using the 8086 was that the entire circuitry needed to support 16-bit architecture. Since there was little need for the extra processing power in the design of the PCW, the decision to go with the Z80 was obvious.
  • Locomotive Software, commissioned to write the word processing software for the PCW, requested royalties in the form of a one-off payment of £75,000 for writing LocoScript. This was their second mistake - when writing the BASIC interpreter for the CPC machines, they did not realise the potential of their work, and had opted for a one-off payment for that also!
  • Alan Sugar planned for a first-month production run of 40,000 units of the PCW8256. It met with hot demand!