In the last quarter of 1989 M.G.T. launched the Sam Coupé. M.G.T. was already known in the ZX Spectrum world for a range of hardware that they sold. The Sam was their pride and joy, and unfortunately to be their downfall.
This was a time when the 16-bit machines, the Atari ST and the Amiga, were really being to take off. Sales in computers such as the Spectrum was in rapid decline. The Sam was aimed to fill this gap, a powerful 8-bit machine with specs that in cases out performed those of the 16-bit machines, at an 8-bit price. It was hoped that current 8-bit owners, particularly Spectrum owners, would jump on the nicely priced Sam rather than a more expensive 16-bit machine.
Software companies, such as US Gold, threw around comments like the now infamous "Strider in 2 weeks" quote - "If, as with Strider, we've already produced a games across all common formats, all we have to do is simply take the code from the Speccy version and the graphics from the ST and sort of mix them together. This should take one bloke around two weeks at most." - needless to say, Strider never appeared.
Unfortunately the Sam arrived too late. Some initial problems, and lack of software meant that the interest just never took off. Some commercial games were initially converted, but the poor sales was enough to put most companies off. The bulk of Sam's software catalogue comes from small companies, set up specifically to support the Sam. Although these managed to gain some impressive licenses, such as Prince of Persia and Lemmings, it just wasn't enough.
M.G.T. went bankrupt, Alan Miles and Bruce Gordon set up a new company "SamCo" to continue producing Sams. Some magazines started giving the Sam negative press. SamCo struggled on for 2 years, and just as things were starting to look hopeful, they too went in liquidation. Westcoast appeared as a Saviour, with grand plans, but then after a couple of mailshots went quiet.
Through all this, a small dedicated userbase stuck with the Sam, producing and selling new software and hardware. Only recently have things started to go really quiet. Ten years is a lot longer than some people predicted.