Following the success of IndieGoGo campaigns for new versions of the Spectrum, someone's launched a crowdfunding campaign that taps into nostalgia for another retro home computer: the Commodore 64.

But unlike the officially-licensed new Spectrum computers, this new Commodore 64 is an unofficial reimagining that isn't allowed to use the Commodore name - or its famous Chicken Head logo.

The 64 is a "homage" to the Commodore 64 that comes in both home computer and handheld console flavours.

Darren Melbourne, who produced the C64 Direct-to-TV, launched the IndieGoGo campaign to raise money for The 64.

The 64 and the Commodore 64 compared.

The campaign asks for $150,000. At the time of publication, $36,000 had been raised from 151 backers, with a month left to go. (It's worth noting that the campaign gets all the money raised even if it doesn't reach its goal.)

The IndieoGoGo pitch is light on detail. We don't know who, exactly, is working on the project, or what, exactly, will be "under the hood". The specifications are not yet fixed, Melbourne said. But he did offer the following:

  • HDMI video and audio output.
  • We are considering composite video in addition to HDMI, for use on classic televisions.
  • Multiple SIDs for stereo sound (6581 or 8580).
  • New high-capacity (512MB+) writable cartridge support, with an adapter interface available later to provide classic cartridge compatibility.
  • Support for current storage media (for example SD cards), with emulation of the 1541.
  • Multiple joystick support for multiplayer games.
  • Support for many of the popular emulator game file formats.
  • Firmware upgradable to support additional features and machines in the future (DTV64 features, etc.).
  • Hopefully the possibility to connect original peripherals.

The intention is The 64 will come bundled with a joystick and a selection of games as well as new games that will be exclusive to the computer.

Melbourne said he's talking with rights holders to arrange for their games to be included on The 64.

The cartridge slot, meanwhile, will not play actual Commodore 64 carts. "The cartridge port on The 64 is configured differently to the original C64 and as such it won't directly work with older games cartridges," Melbourne explained.

"We are however creating a small piece of hardware that will be readily available that will allow original cartridge based games to be used on the machine."

The 64 does not officially license the Commodore name from the rights holders, despite the homage, clearly, trading off of the original. However, Retro Games Ltd, the company behind The 64, has officially licensed the Commodore Roms, BIOS and The 64 form factor from a company called Cloanto Inc.

Melbourne told Eurogamer he isn't worried about any potential licensing issues.

"I don't think that we've been in any way disrespectful to Commodore Holdings B.V and we've been very careful to ensure that we don't utilise any of their marks," he said.

"It's inevitable that people will use the word Commodore but this is only right as we are creating a homage to the greatest home computer of all time.

"Commodore Holdings B.V own the rights to the Commodore trademark and also the world famous Chicken Head logo. On the other hand the ROMS, BIOS, technology core and form factor for the original Commodore 64 are owned by Cloanto Corp and this is what we have officially licensed from Cloanto.

"We are obviously calling on people to 'Bring Back The Legend' as we have the rights to recreate the original machine, except for the trademarks that are owned by Commodore Holdings B.V."

According to the campaign page, the $150,000 will fund the manufacture of the first production units of The 64. If it's successful, the home computer version of The 64 ships in December 2016, with the handheld set to launch in April 2017.

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Wesley Yin-Poole

Wesley Yin-Poole

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