computer business

Loki (computer)

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. When Amstrad bought out Sinclair's computer business in 1986, the project was cancelled. Loki is sometimes confused with two earlier aborted Sinclair Research projects; the LC3 games console (cancelled in 1983) and the SuperSpectrum, a 68008-based home computer very similar to the Sinclair QL (cancelled in 1982).

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.

According to an article published in Sinclair User magazine (which is likely to have been, at least in part, speculative), 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 provide a number of different resolutions up to 768×212, up to 256 colours, and blitter-type functionality. 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.

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