Amstrad PCW8256 circa 1990 ("Joyce")

  bertiecharlie 18:47 05 Jul 2004

I've lost the manual which came with this and haven't used the machine for years. After switching on I get a bright green screen and then put the Locoscript Disk in. I couldn't remember what to do next so pressed the space bar. The screen goes a darker green for a second or two, and then returns to bright green. I can hear some disk drive activity but after a while it gives up with three bleeps.

I've checked the disk drive and the drive belt, or should I say rubber band, and everything seems okay as I've read that, after ten years or so, the rubber can begin to perish.

After putting the Locoscript disk in, should I be typing something to get it to run? (Mmm, yes, I've tried "run").

It would be fine if I could get it working again, I must admit.

  VoG II 18:54 05 Jul 2004

Not sure if click here will help.

  bertiecharlie 19:01 05 Jul 2004

Thanks, Vog, I've had a look at a few sites, one of which mentioned the potential problem with the drive belt, but none of them seems to give an online guide of how to use it.

I used the machine until 1997 so you would think I would remember how to get it started!

  pj123 19:19 05 Jul 2004

From what I remember (which isn't very much now) I think you have to put a "Start" disk in before you put the Locoscript disk in. I had a YT student (a long time ago)who had a PCW9516 with two disk drives. The start disk was always kept in the main drive and Locoscript in the other. Saved keep swapping disks. If I can contact him in the next couple of days I will ask him, but don't hold me to this. Will let you know either way.

  bertiecharlie 19:33 05 Jul 2004

Thanks, pj123. The 8256 has only one disk drive and, if I remember correctly, I used to put the Locoscript disk in first in order to load the machine up with the Locoscript word processing programme. What I can't remember is the actual prompt I should use after putting the disk in the drive.

(They recommended that you copy the original Locoscript disk to another disk and use the copy on a daily basis. I remember they referred to this copy as your "Start of Day" disk).

Maybe your former student will know so, if you get the chance of speaking to him or her, that would be very helpful but I won't hold you to it.

Thanks again.

  Newuser38 19:38 05 Jul 2004

I think pj123 is right about the start disc. I dug my PCW out of the loft last year and had to replace the drive bands before it would work. I printed off some old stuff I wanted and OCR'd it into my PC I think everything is back in the loft will have a look in the next day or 2 and if I find I will come back. It might be worth looking at click here or click here who has spares including 2nd hand manuals on occasion. If you do need drive bands he can supply.

  justme 19:57 05 Jul 2004

I have never actually used a pcw8256 but from what I can remember of computers from that era you had to load the operating system first (no hard drives).

pj123 is probably right in that you would need a start disk (the operating system) before you load Locoscriot or any other program.

It all brings back many happy memories of swapping disks to get any program to work.

  bertiecharlie 20:21 05 Jul 2004


Thanks for your links and I'm going to order a drive belt and a manual. (What's your bets I find the original manual a day after I order a new one).


Thanks also. Perhaps this is where I'm going wrong.The manual will tell me all, I hope!

  Salinger 21:01 05 Jul 2004

Plug the Monitor Unit into the mains supply, then turn the machine on by means of the power switch on the monitor. The monitor screen will come up bright green.

Select the system disc with sides 1 and 2 on it.

Hold the disc by its labelled end with Side 1 to the left. Now insert the disc into the drive until it clicks home.

This should require no more than gentle pressure: if the drive appears to be resisting th disc, stop. Whatever you do, don't force it.

If you have problems, first check that you are putting the disc in the right way round.Then check that there isn't a disc already in the drive ( press the Eject button), If you still have problems, consult your dealer.

The disc drive motor should now turn on. This is indicated both by activity on the screen and a gentle whirring noise. If it doesn't, PRESS THE SPACE BAR. The computer then starts to read your disc.

(If it is working you will see a pattern of green and black horizontal lines for a short while - then the Amstrad info for a short while- after the Amstrad info the screen should change to the Locoscript screen. Then you're on your own!!! I've forgotten all I learned!)

  Salinger 21:04 05 Jul 2004

The Locoscript screen tells you which keys to press to do what you want it to.

  bertiecharlie 21:24 05 Jul 2004

Thanks, Salinger, that has clarified that it should work after pressing the space bar. I'm getting the "gentle whirring sound" when I put the disk in and press the space bar, but no activity on the screen.

I think it could well be the drive belt. It looked okay when I took the drive out but if I put a new one in it might just do the trick. It won't do any harm, anyway.

The disk has Locosript on side one, and CP/M Plus, (various utilities), on side two, so I'll have another go when I get the drive belt fitted.

Thanks again all.

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