LK-selectable Brand Names
LK1,LK2,LK3 are optional links on the CPC mainboard, connected to PPI Port B, Bit1-3. The links select the distributor name (which is displayed by the BIOS in the boot message).
|Bit 3 (LK3)||Bit 2 (LK2)||Bit 1 (LK1)||Distributor Name||Usage|
|0 (link installed)||0 (link installed)||0 (link installed)||Isp||None|
|0 (link installed)||0 (link installed)||1 (no link)||Triumph||None|
|0 (link installed)||1 (no link)||0 (link installed)||Saisho||None|
|0 (link installed)||1 (no link)||1 (no link)||Solavox||See below|
|1 (no link)||0 (link installed)||0 (link installed)||Awa||Australian CPCs|
|1 (no link)||0 (link installed)||1 (no link)||Schneider||German CPCs until late 1987|
|1 (no link)||1 (no link)||0 (link installed)||Orion||None|
|1 (no link)||1 (no link)||1 (no link)||Amstrad||Default, used in most countries|
- Note: Some of the brand names seem to include slight mis-spellings: "Awa" and "Orion" are more commonly written all uppercase, "AWA" and "ORION". And, if below speculations are correct, "Isp" and "Triumph" would refer to "ISP KG" and "Triumph-Adler".
- Note: In the CPC Plus schematics, the links are named LK101,LK102,LK103 - although on the actual CPC Plus mainboard the normal names are used: LK1,LK2,LK3.
Used Brand Names
Amstrad, being the company that has developed the CPC, is the default brand name shown in the boot message in most countries.
Mitsubishi Electric AWA Pty Ltd / AWA-Thorn distributed CPC computers in Australia. Externally, these CPCs look identical to English CPCs (with the normal Amstrad logo above the ESC key). Internally, LK1 and LK2 are shorted, so the BIOS displays "Awa" instead of Amstrad in the boot message. Whereas, Amstrad made a small mistake: The correct name would be "AWA", not "Awa".
Schneider Computer Division exclusively distributed the CPC on the german market until their partnership with Amstrad ended around late 1987 or early 1988.
The german models were shipped with custom Schneider logos on the keyboard, displayed Schneider in the boot message, and, in case of the 464/664, they were produced with uncommon grey control keys (the english/french/spanish models all used the Amstrad logo on the keyboard, and colorful control keys on the 464/664; not on 6128).
On the contrary, german CPC keyboards never included support for german umlauts - unlike later french/spanish models which do support some accented letters.
Solavox is a brand name used by the UK based Comet Group. Much similar to Saisho being a brand name by UK based Dixons/Currys. Like Saisho, Solavox wasn't ever used in british CPCs.
However, some US export models from Spain were produced with the Solavox setting. Why this has happened, if those models actually reached the USA, and if Solavox UK was aware of this operation is unknown. For details, see the Solavox page.
ORION Electric Co,. Ltd. is a japanese company, founded 1958 by Shigemasa Otake. In the interview, Cliff Lawson has confirmed that Amstrad planned to export CPCs to "far east", using Orion as a partner.
At least one "Orion" branded CPC is known to exist and has been found in China. We don't know yet if it was just a demonstration unit for a trade show, or if it was effectively distributed there in confidential quantities. Two manuals and catalogs in Chinese were also found.
However, Amstrads CTM640/CTM644 and GT64/GT65 monitors contain cathode ray tubes from ORION. Some webpages also mention that the CPC computer itself was manufactured by Orion (in Korea).
Unused Brand Names
Isp might refer to ISP KG Dieter Lather, which operates (from 1975 until today, 2010) as european distributor for ORION products. The interview doesn't confirm whether or not Amstrad was referring to ISP KG. However, there is no other big electronics company known to use "ISP" or "Isp" as brand name and being active back in 1983.
Considering that Amstrad did have some relations with ORION, it doesn't seem too unlikely that they also planned to work with ISP KG. Although, as far as known, ISP never rebadged the ORION products as ISP products, so there would have been no real requirement for the Isp boot message.
Saisho is a japanese-sounding brand name used by the UK based retailer Dixons (Currys). According to http://www.audiotools.com, the Saisho brand is [possibly among others] used "for low budget, Asian sourced products".
The interview confirms that Amstrad was referring to this company.
Triumph isn't a unique trademarked brand name, making it difficult to tell which company Amstrad had in mind. There are various companies using Triumph as brand name (most of them being rather unlikely for an Amstrad partnership).
The most serious candidate might be the english/german bicycle and typewriter manucfacturer Triumph, originally founded 1886 in england. In 1958, Triumph fusioned with Adler, so, if Amstrad was referring to this company, the correct boot message would have been "Triumph-Adler"; this company did actually produce computer hardware from 1971 up to today (2010).
Other than that it's also possibly that Triumph was an insider joke (like the Arnold dummy-entry in the brand name list). So Amstrad could have as well meant a less serious candidate, like the canadian Triumph rock band. The interview doesn't reveal any details here.
Arnold is some sort of an internal codename for the CPC series. It's also included as (non-selectable) dummy-entry in the brand name list in the BIOS ROM. The way how the BIOS is programmed makes it necessary to include a leading dummy-entry in that list, basically, this could have been an empty string (a single 00h byte), but for some reason, Amstrad put Arnold in there.
Indescomp is the official spanish CPC distributor. Indescomp joined the marked a bit later than AWA and Schneider, and so, it didn't get a LK-selectable brand name in the BIOS. Even later localized models (with spanish character set & keyboard translation) displayed Amstrad in the boot message.
Patisonic is the manufacturer of an unlicensed russian CPC clone, the Aleste 520EX. It uses an EPROM with english CPC 6128 BIOS, with some modifactions (among others, replacing the LK-selectable brand names by hardcoded boot message).
VEB Mikroelektronik "Wilhelm Pieck" Muehlhausen is the manufacturer of an unlicensed east german CPC clone, the KC Compact. It uses an EPROM with english CPC 6128 BIOS (although it contains only 64K RAM), with some modifactions (among others, replacing the LK-selectable brand names by hardcoded boot message).
- It was a marketing exercise with a view to being able to sell it under different brand names in different territories. For example Saisho may sound Far Eastern (Japanese?) but it's actually a brand name used by the UK's largest electrical retailer (Dixons) and a lot of their "own brand" product goes under the Saisho name. By having links, if Dixons had wanted some sort of exclusivity deal on the product but badged under their own name (OEM effectively) then this would allow for it. Orion were the name of the Far Eastern manuacturer and opened the possibility of it being sold in that market. As far as I know the only ones ever really used were Amstrad and Schneider (I think the Aussies just got "Amstrad" too).
Note: The part about australia is correct in so far that the australian CPCs have normal Amstrad logos on the keyboard, however, several people confirmed that they do display "Awa" in the boot message.