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Posted Sat May 18, 2019 12:25 pm

Hello all,

during my eBay Research Quest for C64 and Amiga Hardware components, I stumbled over a guy selling a Commodore C65 aka. C64DX Prototype (which got sold today for the "affordable" price of 20,550.00 Euros by the way).
Since I've been always been fascinated by the idea of how an 8-bit successor to the legendary C64 would have looked and would have been like, I recently got contact to the Museum of Electronic Games & Art e.V. (aka. MEGA) here in Germany while visiting a local Retro-GamesCon and I learned about their mission to completely re-engineer and develop the C65. The Project is called MEGA65.
I follow the progress of the development on their Forum and Blog I find it fascinating how much energy, dedication and manpower they put into the project, without the goal of being commercial (till now). As a graphic artist with the knwledge of doing pixel graphics, I actually think about contributing my talents.

I wonder if you guys knew about this project and I'd like to hear/read your thoughts about it. Is it a seasonable approach to develop a brand new 8-bit machine in the 21st century? Is this still RETRO? Would you actually purchase a brand new 8-bit computer and if yes, how much would you pay for such a machine? Or would you donate to the project, or not?

Cheers, Marc

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Sat May 18, 2019 4:17 pm

I have been following that project, too, but not extremely closely. At the current pace, I wonder if it will make it to market (ever?) before 2022. The costs involved are not trivial.

On top of that, as cool as the machine could potentially be, I could see it experiencing the same fate as the 128. Since it is compatible with C64 software, most will probably want to just run with that. But then to improve compatibility and the open source nature of the machine, development could focus on continuously improving the 64 side - similar to how the Ultimate64 is currently supported.

I'd think the C65 development community would be passionate, but very small indeed.

From a risk perspective, I think many that have the talent will stick with either the C64 or move into newer realms like the Pico-8. If Mega65 ever actually ship a real product for less than $400 (not sure that's possible today), I bet they could sell several hundred at least.

I do lust for their keycaps, though (which I assume are C64 compatible).

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Posted Sun May 19, 2019 4:56 am

I question how the developers can assure compatibility considering the original platform was in such early stages of development that no software was really released for it?

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Posted Tue May 21, 2019 10:41 am

The creator of the Mega 65 is a fantastic guy, but he is also an academic. I have nothing against academics, but his approach is very academically driven, not market driven. He seems to love implementing features and so more and more new features get added to the Mega65 and it gets further and further away on the horizon.

Did you see he started a side project for a phone sized version? That months were spent optimizing SD card access? If you scroll through his blog, there are tons of features that nobody ever asked for or needs.

This is all super frustrating for anyone actually interested in purchasing one. It is also a bit against the spirit of the original machine, which took the simplest route to achieve an end, not the most elegant and optimized solution.

But as his passion project it is super impressive. I just hope he eventually releases it!

I asked if they would release the STL files for the C65 case to the public (they released the CPU core on GITHUB so I figured they might do the same with the case). Alas they said no.

There goes my dream of a cool C65 case too!

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Posted Wed May 22, 2019 1:55 pm

rpiguy9907 wrote:Did you see he started a side project for a phone sized version? That months were spent optimizing SD card access? If you scroll through his blog, there are tons of features that nobody ever asked for or needs.
Yeah, I recently read it on his blog. I am not sure what to think about that phone project, too. It looks intersting, design-wise, though.

To be honest, I'd be up for purchasing a MEGA65, so I'll continue to follow the development progress for sure. ;)

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Roseville, CA

Posted Thu Jul 04, 2019 12:03 pm

There's been a bunch of really interesting uploads from the MEGA65 project team worth checking out:

Check out this video

I was a bit on the fence on the 65. After seeing this in action, I'm all-in MEGAexcited! I really hope the project achieves market and am eager to put my name on the waitlist.

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Posted Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:48 am

Mr.Toast wrote:After seeing this in action, I'm all-in MEGAexcited! I really hope the project achieves market and am eager to put my name on the waitlist.
Me too, man, me too. I've donated some bucks to the guys and I think I'll offer my retro graphics skills for some of their initial projects, if they are still in need of support and contribution.

Thanks for the video links. They seemed to have slipped by me, so it was really intersting to see those. :)

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Zippy Zapp

Posted Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:08 pm

Awesome. I am very happy to see it progressing. I am in when they go on sale.

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Posted Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:06 pm

I am very excited about the C65. I saw the GEOS video they did the other day, and it was very nice! I have plenty of things to run C64 stuff on, so I will use this mainly in C65 mode. Probably just to have fun with.
My C128 spends about 3/4 of the time in C128 mode - often in GEOS, but sometimes just playing with BASIC.
There are a lot of bugs to work out, bit as long as it is easy to update the firmware, I think this has a real chance to become a fine product.

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:27 pm

The real question is, "How much would you all be willing to pay?"

Let's pretend the keycaps alone cost about $40 (retail price), and the case another $60. We're already up to $100, and we haven't even included any actual hardware yet. So let's add, say, $300 for the motherboard and built-in floppy drive, which might be low-balling it (see: Ultimate64 Elite).

We're up to $400, plus shipping and potentially tax. So for fun let's round it to $450 per unit.

Do we think that's where this price might land? Higher? Lower?

And if it is $450 for a product to land on your door, what kind of interest/market do you think it will find? I think that's kind of the high end for a niche product like this to take full root, personally. But then what if I'm completely wrong and it's closer to $700, or well beyond? I mean, the original C64 cost $595. Adjusted for inflation in 2019, that's $1,545. Would you pay $1,545 for the Mega65?

Has anyone heard a peep about how much an actual Mega65 will cost? I'm not sure the team could even tell us today if they wanted to, but I do wonder what their ballpark figure might be off the tops of their heads. That'd be interesting to know.

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