Amstrad PC2086/30

After success of PC1512/1640 line, Amstrad decided to continue their line of PC-compatible computers. The next iteration of Amstrad XTs was released in 1988 as PC 2086, and later 2286 and 2386 with better CPUs and bigger RAM. As in 1512, PC2086 has 8086 processor, but it has full 640kB of memory and VGA graphics chip on board. 5.25" floppy disk drive has been replaced with 3.5" drive with enhanced controller which could support even high-density disks. Some units have XTA interface on ISA board to connect hard drive. Most units have hard disks, the popular model 2086/30 has a drive formatted to 30MB using RLL controller.
The computer still has custom keyboard and mouse interface, preserved from PC1xxx line, but the connector is different and keyboards have more keys. The case has been re-vamped to be similar to all-in-one PCs popular in some business sectors. However it is still a modular PC with monitor going nicely to protrusions in casing. Power supply unit is in the computer and this time engineers decided to include a fan inside. The machine was sold both in UK and in the Europe, mostly in Germany.

Manufacturer Amstrad

Origin UK
Year of unit 1988
Year of introduction 1988
Class XT
CPU 8086
Speed 8MHz
RAM 640kB
ROM Amstrad's BIOS
Graphics Paradise VGA
Max 640x480x256
Sound PC Speaker
System expansion bus 8-bit ISA
(3 slots + 1 for HDD controller)


Floppy/removable media drives Internal: one 3.5" floppy disk drive, 720kB
External drive and power connector,
Possible to install high-density drives?

Hard disk: 30MB RLL (ST412 interface)

Peripherals in collection:
 - None

Other boards:


Non-standard expansions:  -
Operating system(s): MS-DOS

My unit comes from e-waste and I don't know about its history as I dont have a keyboard for it. It seems to pass the POST except hard disk, detect lack of keyboard, then it halts. Theoretically it may be possible to use, in a limited degree, Model PC1512 keyboard with some adapter.
The only thing I know is that someone tried to remove the "30" mark from the casing.

Contents: Starting, usage Configuration Pinouts Links


The computer boots from floppy disk drive. By using a switch on the side you can switch the external drive or use internal one. If there is no floppy to boot from, it boots from hard disk, the controller board, sometimes RLL, sometimes XT-Attachment, is in the fourth ISA slot, not accessible from the rear of casing.






According to this site (1 - ON (pressed down), 0 - OFF):
SW1,2 - External graphics card type:
00 - EGA/VGA
01 - CGA, 40-column mode
10 - CGA, 80-column mode
11 - MDA, 80-column mode.

SW3 - 1 disables built-in serial port. Useful when you have external serial port card or modem.

SW4 - 1 disables on-board VGA chip

SW5 - 1 to modify video output to display better picture on multisync-type monitor

SW6 - 1 turns on automatic monochrome/color switching based on program requirements.

SW7,8 - Reserved, 00 by default.

Near CPU there are jumpers for memory size, they are labeled on mainboard. There are also jumpers for BIOS size.

The hard disk installed in my unit, Western Digital WD383R, is especially designed for RLL formatting. Its geometry is 615/4/26 (C/H/S). The controller is WD1004A-27X which can be configured with other geometries for disks.




Important Pinouts:

Keyboard according to this site:
2 - DATA
3 - M1
4 - GND
5 - +5V
6 - M2
7 - LOCK?
M1 and M2 are mouse buttons, passed from mouse connector. Mouse buttons are interpreted as keyboard scancodes. Mouse pinout can be seen in Amstrad PC1512 page, it is probably the same or similar. Check Vcc/GND before trying.




Links: - Windows driver do download, unfortunately may require replacing CPU with V30 - Another GEM and Windows drivers, worth trying - DIP Switch / option links configuration - In collection - Keyboard pinout and keycodes diagram