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Tracing the History of the Computer - Lord Alan Sugar


Lord (Sir) Alan Sugar

Lord (Sir) Alan Sugar

(Lord) Alan Michael Sugar was born on the 24th March 1947 in Hackney, London. He has an estimated fortune of £760 million and was ranked 55th in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2005. He left Brooke House School at the age of sixteen and was briefly a civil service statistician, but it wasn't long before Sugar went into business selling products such as cigarette lighters, intercoms and TV aerials.

Alan Sugar is a donor to the British Labour Party. In 2005 he stepped into the American entrepreneur Donald Trump's shoes in the BBC version of the hit American TV series The Apprentice, with The Apprentice UK.

He was knighted in 2000 for his contributions to business, and made a peer on the 20th July 1009, becoming Lord Sugar of Clapton in the Borough of Hackney.


In 1968, Alan Sugar founded the electronics and computer company Amstrad (the name being taken from his initials - Alan Michael Sugar Trading).

By 1970, his first manufacturing venture was underway. He managed to achieve low production prices by using an injection moulding technique for hi-fi turntable covers, significantly undercutting competitors who were using a vacuum forming process. Manufacturing capacity was soon expanded to include the production of audio amplifiers and tuners.

In 1980, Amstrad was listed on the London Stock Exchange. Amstrad as a company doubled in both profit and market value every year throughout the 1980s. By 1984, realising the oncoming opportunity of the computing era, Amstrad launched an 8-bit machine, the CPC464. Although the CPC range were colourful machines, with CP/M-capability and a good BASIC operating system, they were unable to compete as games machines with the more graphically complex Commodore 64 or the cheaper Sinclair ZX spectrum. In 1985, Sugar had another major breakthrough with the launch of the PCW8256 word processor which, although made of very cheap components, retailed at over £300.


At its peak, Amstrad achieved a stock market value of £1.2 billion, but the 1990s proved to be a difficult time, with more competition appearing in the computer market. In the early-1990s Amstrad began to focus on portable computers rather than desktop computers. In 1990 Amstrad tried to enter the gaming market with the Amstrad GX4000, but it was a commercial failure, because it used 8-bit technology unlike the 16-bit Sega Megadrive and Super Nintendo. In 1993 Amstrad released the PenPad, a PDA, also a commercial failure. Amstrad was the only manufacturer producing receiver boxes and dishes at the launch of Sky, and has continued to manufacture set top boxes, including Sky's Sky+ box.

In 1997 Amstrad bought into Betacom and Viglen, as the company decided to focus more on communications as opposed to computers. Amstrad released the first of its combined telephony and e-mail devices, called the e-m@iler, followed by the e-m@ilerplus in 2002.


Amstrad CPC


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