This has been a week of surprises for the retro computing community, not least of which has been the exciting and unheralded arrival of both a brand new retro computer together with a matching handheld console, both emulating the spirit of a phenomenally popular and much-loved games computer of the 1980s.
And yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, that computer really does look like a Commodore 64!
Little and large
Which is the idea really, because although the splitting up of intellectual property and brand name licensing after the fall of Commodore has presumably not permitted UK-based makers Retro Games Limited to actually brand the new kid on the retro block as a Commodore 64, they have managed to officially license the original 64’s BIOS and ROMs from IP rights holders Cloanto Inc. Which means ‘THE 64™’, as the makers have dubbed and trademarked it, is actually a somewhat more compact modern technology version of the C64 by any other name.
Not a problem really, as it is an, apparently highly-compatible, re-imagining of the world’s best-selling home computer rather than an out-and-out clone, with similar but slimmer looks to the original ‘breadbin’ C64 plus hdmi video out, modern SD card removable storage and built-in games as well as USB ports – rather than having to use old-fashioned TV sets and obsolete (albeit nostalgic) and slow, expensive floppy disk drives. We’ll hopefully be able to take a closer look at the technology in THE 64™ at a later date, but for the moment check out the pictures shown here.
There’s also a mini version of THE 64™ packaged as a small, hand-held games console, a popular concept these days. That should give the competition something to think about as well…
Equally popular in many quarters is the mode of launching and funding this latest retro project – on Indiegogo – and THE C64™ and it’s miniaturised sidekick appeared there earlier this week. The company are inviting Commodore 64 fans from across the world to back the campaign to bring to life THE 64 ™ computer. Interestingly, despite being a British company, they are quoting prices in US Dollars, apparently to make costing easier to understand world-wide, which makes sense as they’re looking for a wide market.
Homage to a classic
The company’s PR team told Retro Computing News: “The 64 ™ is a homage to the greatest selling home computer of all time, the Commodore 64 ™. Retro Games Ltd brings together a team of highly experienced and passionate industry professionals who have collectively been in the games industry for many decades. The team have been united by their passion for all things retro but specifically their love of the Commodore 64 ™. With the experiences of creating and shipping both AAA console titles and physical retro inspired consoles and computers to market, the team have worked tirelessly to bring THE 64 ™ to the world.
“THE 64 ™ project is being designed, built and marketed by a team of people who are utterly passionate about the Commodore 64 ™ and retro gaming. The team were previously involved in bringing to market consoles and products such as the C64DTV ™, and the Nintendo Wii ™ C64 ™ games.”
The company has produced a short introductory video:
THE 64 ™ computer will come bundled with a joystick, a selection of classic games and also some brand new content which will be exclusive to the launch version. It is being designed and developed by a team led by a’ world class software and hardware engineer’. He is aided by a technical team from around the world.
Who’s doing it for Retro Games Ltd?
THE 64 ™ project is headed up by video game industry veteran Darren Melbourne who conceptualized and bought to market the C64DTV ™ console as well as dozens of other game related products during a video games career that has spanned over thirty years.
THE 64 ™ gaming team is apparently built around a group of people with many years of games creation and intellectual property licensing experience, say the makers. The foundation of the team is ‘…their love of the Commodore 64 ™ and it is this passion that shines through with the creation of the games software for THE 64 ™. Key team members are also integral parts of the C64 ™ community, working tirelessly to preserve and maintain the C64 ™, keeping the scene vibrant and alive.’
The Indiegogo campaign is intended to raise the necessary funds to manufacture the first production units of THE 64 ™ which will be shipped to the backers of the campaign., The campaign will also enable the company to prepare for the global retail production launch of THE 64 ™
As well as a chance to get their hands on THE 64 ™ computer or handheld version, the crowdfunding campaign also offers a range of other THE 64 ™ Indigogo campaign backers perks, including: signed limited edition concept art, originals, posters, limited edition chrome computers, and even getting your name on the PCB alongside the team! All the fun of the Indiego crowdfunding fair, in fact.
We’ll certainly be watching the campaign with interest and not a little excitement, and hope to get our hands on the new THE 64™ dynamic duo for review in due course!
For more information, why not head over to the campaign page on Indiegogo:
or the company website: www.the64.computer
There’s also a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/The64computer/