Loki (computer)

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Loki (computer)
Type Home computer
Release date Never
Operating system SuperBASIC variant
CPU Z80 @ 7 MHz and equivalent
Memory 128 KB

Loki was the codename for a home computer under development at Sinclair Research during the mid-1980s. The name came from the Norse god Loki, god of mischief and thieves. Loki was based on the ZX Spectrum, but intended to rival the Commodore Amiga as a games platform.

Loki is sometimes confused with two earlier aborted Sinclair Research projects: the LC3 games console (cancelled in 1983) and the SuperSpectrum (cancelled in 1982),[1] a 68008-based home computer very similar to the Sinclair QL.

Design[edit]

According to an article published in Sinclair User magazine, Loki was to have a 7 MHz Z80H CPU, a minimum of 128 KiB of RAM and two custom chips providing much enhanced video and audio capabilities compared to the ZX Spectrum, but with a compatibility mode. The video chip, referred to as the "Rasterop" chip, would have blitter-type functionality and three different modes: 512×256 pixels with 16 colours, 256×212 with 256 colours, or 256×212 with 64 colours and two bits per pixel used for "blitter objects". Comprehensive peripheral support was also claimed, including MIDI, lightpen, joystick and floppy disk. A version of the SuperBASIC language from the Sinclair QL was to be provided in place of the old ZX Spectrum BASIC and support for the CP/M operating system was also intended. On top of this, the computer would cost as little as ₤200.[2]

Another Spectrum magazine, Crash, poured scorn on the report in Sinclair User, dismissing the design as "dreamware" in the opinion of an ex-Sinclair designer they consulted, analysing the implied components and costs, and adding, "It may be fun to dream about Loki, but the fact is that it won't appear, and nor will anything like it." This was the rationale, according to Crash Technical Editor Simon Goodwin:

Being blessed with lots of headed typing paper and very little money, the Thinkers at Sinclair were invited to make a big list of trendy computer features. That list, embellished with a few charts and tables but a noticeable lack of circuit diagrams and real detail, finally escaped into the hands of the computer press. Despite six years of agonising experience of the difference between Sinclair specifications and reality they swallowed it whole. Technical know-how has never been a strong point in magazines that still—indeed, the same month—print Commodore 64 screen shots in their Spectrum software preview section.

— [3]

History[edit]

When Amstrad bought out Sinclair's computer business in 1986, the project was cancelled.

Martin Brennan and John Mathieson, two Sinclair engineers, took the Loki technology with them and founded Flare Technology. There they worked on an abortive games console project on the Konix Multisystem, later working with Atari on the Panther and Jaguar systems. According to Jaguar developer Andrew Whittaker, two other Sinclair employees, Bruce Gordon and Alan Miles, who went on to form Miles Gordon Technology, also used some of the designs in the SAM Coupé.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Adamson, Ian; Richard Kennedy. "The Quantum Leap — to where?". Sinclair and the 'Sunrise' Technology. Retrieved 2007-06-03. 
  2. ^ "SuperSpectrum!". Sinclair User (51): 24–25. June 1986. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  3. ^ "Loki the Joki". Crash (31). August 1986. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  4. ^ Owen, Chris. "Loki, Janus, Pandora — The Unreleased Sinclair Computers". Planet Sinclair. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 

External links[edit]