Sam Coupe - 1989

In a way, we have completed the picture of machines from Clive Sinclair but there is one more that fits here better than anywhere else. As mentioned earlier, Beta BASIC was an alternative BASIC for the Spectrum. It was excellent in every respect bar one - it lived on top of Spectrum BASIC so used up a lot of the precious memory (about 11KB). In 1988, a company called MGT approached the writer of Beta BASIC with the aim of producing the final and best-ever Spectrum. This saw the light of day as the SAM Coupe.

The SAM Coupe was the pinnacle of 8 bit computing. It came with a proper keyboard, two standard floppy disks and 256KB of memory upgradeable to 512KB internally and with up to a MASSIVE 4MB externally. It had a six-channel sound chip and a full-colour graphics display. It could even be started in Spectrum mode to run Spectrum software.

Despite all of this, the SAM Coupe was a flop. The initial computers had bugs in their ROM (just like a Sinclair!) and it was sold just when everyone was looking at 16 bit and even 32 bit computers. It is sad as had this computer been sold 4 years earlier then it might have been a winner.