The SAM Coupé was an 8-bit British home computer that was first released in late 1989. A popular misconception is that it is a clone of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer, it has a compatible screen mode and features that allows for emulation since it was marketed as a logical upgrade to the Spectrum. Originally manufactured by Miles Gordon Technology, plc. (MGT) based in Swansea in the United Kingdom.
Emulation of the ZX Spectrum was extremely limited, only to the 48K model could me emulated by loading in a copy of the ZX Spectrum ROM. The 128K model's conveluted memory map was incompatible with the Coupé's memory model although it was possible to convert games by hacking the 128K code. Another problem of emulating the Spectrum was the fact that tape storage loaders made to prevent thr rife piracy on the Spectrum were not emulatable on the Coupé hardware. This lead to the development by MGT of a special hardware interface called The Messenger to connect the two machines together and transfer the code.
The machine was based around a Z80B CPU clocked at 6 MHz, and contained an ASIC that is comparable to the Spectrum's ULA. The basic model had 256KB of RAM, (upgradable internally to 512KB and externally to 4.5MB), and used tapes for storage. It had 4 graphical modes - including a Spectrum-compatible mode, a 512×192×4 mode, and a 256×192×16 mode. Unfortunately the machine was underpowered and simply couldn't blit the screen around fast enough for multicolour scrolling graphics.
MGT went into receivership in June 1990, and the assets were mainly bought by a new company founded by Miles and Gordon called Sam Computers Ltd. The price of the SAM with floppy disk drive was brought down to under £200 and new games and hardware were released. SamCo survived until 1992, and the remaining assets then were purchased by West Coast Computers.
Several famous computer games were ported to the Sam, notably Manic Miner, Prince of Persia, and Lemmings.