SAM Coupé Pro-Dos [CP/M 2.2] Resource Pages
What is a SAM Coupé?
SAM Coupè Computer
In the last quarter of 1989 M.G.T. launched the SAM Coupé. M.G.T. was already known in the ZX
Spectrum world for a range of hardware that they sold. The SAM was their pride and joy, and
unfortunately to be their downfall. This was a time when the 16-bit machines, the Atari ST and
the Amiga, were really being to take off. Sales in computers such as the Spectrum was in rapid
decline. The SAM was aimed to fill this gap, a powerful 8-bit machine with specs that in cases
out performed those of the 16-bit machines, at an 8-bit price. It was hoped that current 8-bit
owners, particularly Spectrum owners, would jump on the nicely priced Sam rather than a more
expensive 16-bit machine.
Software companies, such as US Gold, threw around comments like the now infamous "Strider in 2
weeks" quote - "If, as with Strider, we have already produced a games across all common
formats, all we have to do is simply take the code from the Spectrum version and the graphics
from the ST and sort of mix them together. This should take one bloke around two weeks at
most." - needless to say, Strider never appeared.
Unfortunately the Sam arrived too late. Some initial problems, and lack of software meant that
the interest just never took off. Some commercial games were initially converted, but the poor
sales was enough to put most companies off. The bulk of Sam's software catalogue comes from
small companies, set up specifically to support the SAM. Although these managed to gain some
impressive licenses, such as Prince of Persia and Lemmings, it just was not enough.
M.G.T. went bankrupt, Alan Miles and Bruce Gordon set up a new company "SAMCo" to continue
producing SAMs. Some magazines started giving the Sam negative press. SAMCo struggled on for 2
years, and just as things were starting to look hopeful, they too went in liquidation.
Westcoast appeared as a Saviour, with grand plans, but then after a couple of mail shots went
Through all this, a small dedicated user base stuck with the SAM, producing and selling new
software and hardware. Only recently have things started to go really quiet. Ten years is a lot
longer than some people predicted.
MGTs SAM Coupé - General Specificatons
Z80b microprocessor running at 6MHz.
Customised VLSI 10,000-gate ASIC chip.
32K including SAM BASIC, disk bootstrap, BIOS.
512k (256Kx4 100ns DRAM), Further 4Meg externally.
Phillips SAA1099 Synthesizer: 6 Channel, 8 Octave, Stereo.
Motorola MC 1377P Video Chip. ASIC Serves as graphic processor. All modes allow 128 colours on
screen by use of line interrupts
MODE 1 : 32x24 character cells per screen, each cell with 2 colour
MODE 2 : 32x192 cells, each cell 2 colour capability.
MODE 3 : 512x192 pixels (85 column mode), reduced colour capability per
MODE 4 : 256x192 graphics screen.
UHF TV Channel 36.
Joystick (Atari standard - dual capability with splitter)
Mouse (requires additional interface)
Light Pen (not available)
Light Gun (not available)
MIDI in/out (through via software switch)
64pin Euro connector for expansion cards (ie Parallel interface)
1 or 2 internally mounted 3.5" ultra slim Citizen Double Density Drives (no longer
Format 800k, 20k used for directory information = 80 files. More with MasterDOS
72 full travel keys (Qwerty) - membrane type.
Programs may be up to 217K long on a standard 256K Coupe. Line numbers up to 61439 are allowed,
with each line containing up to 127 statements. Strings and arrays can have names up to 10
characters long. The names of user-defined functions and numeric variables can have up to 32
characters. Strings can be up to 64K long; arrays can fill all available memory. SAM Basic is
fully structured and includes procedures with local variables and parameter-passing by value
and reference. Long and short IF and ELSE are implemented, as are DO, LOOP, REPEAT, UNTIL, a
CASE equivalent, ON, ON ERROR and GO TO label.
Graphics are well catered for, with very fast DRAW, CIRCLE, PLOT and pattern FILL. RECORD and
BLITZ allow complex graphics sequences to he stored and replayed at high speed. Any part of the
screen can be moved in any direction with ROLL and SCROLL, and sections can be GRABbed and PUT
back elsewhere. PALETTE allows instant changes to the screen colours; all 128 colours can be
displayed at once. The displayed screen can be instantly switched for another. The character
set includes block graphics and a wide range of foreign characters. Character size can be
altered to give 32, 64, or 85 columns. Double height characters can also be used. Text and
graphics screen copies can be made to a suitable printer in a variety of sizes.
Sound commands include BEEP, SOUND, and a range of pre-programmed sound effects. There are 56
built-in functions, which provide a full range of mathematical and string-handling functions as
well as mouse and light-pen handling, string searching. hex and binary conversion, and other
The tape system can handle program, data, binary and screen files at a wide range of speeds.
The keyboard can be completely re-programmed; predefined strings can be generated by any key.
Programs can be automatically indented to reflect structure and renumbered.