I am hoping that these just might be a real thing!
There have been other Indigogo campaigns that haven’t come to see the production light of day and some of which, I had really hoped to see be a real thing. When I saw this campaign for the Commodore 64 keycaps, I was already skeptical and ready to back it all at once but I see that the campaign is fully funded and closed.
As much as I love the original beige, I always wanted a blacked out Commodore 64 in the C64C style, more sleek case. I don’t know if these will be compatible with the work on a replacement keyboard but in my mind, I am thinking of something very similar to one Perifractic did with assembling a completely new Commodore 64 with modern parts. He did something incredibly clever by using Lego as key caps and printing the characters directly on the plates.
It is shocking yet maybe not really, that the Commodore 64 key caps will fit perfectly onto the Lego Technic axle pieces. It was really quite remarkable how well this Lego keyboard worked as a viable replacement.
Like Perifractic, I too want to have a modern Commodore 64 but an actual Commodore 64, not the C64 Impostor I built myself that is actually a openSUSE Tumbleweed Linux machine, but a real Commodore 64 that has all the original I/O like the cartridge ports, joystick ports, the ability to directly plug in the C1541 disk drives and the like. This is also not a knock on TheC64 which is a fantastic device that is essentially a gaming Commodore 64 as it only provides USB ports and an HDMI (which is FANTASTIC). This has its place too, mostly as a gaming device that you can also use for programming quite nicely. Having a modern Commodore 64 with modern components that can do everything of the original but without the encumberments of the original hardware that is destined to fail.
What I would do is start with the Ultimate 64 Elite main board. This board has everything you could possibly want from a Commodore 64 motherboard. Not only do you have complete reimplementation of the custom chips with access to the original ports but you also have the ability to plug in original SID chips and are giving access to modern USB ports as well as networking through Wifi and Ethernet. To me, this is absolutely excellent. I get the old tech combined with new tech to make the experience more modern and removing the annoying bits that were a part of the C64 experience.
I would take this board and place it in an SX-64 colored slimline style of case because this is perhaps the coolest color combination for this style of case. The SX-64 was a very innovative machine that didn’t take off like it should have but still stands as a remarkable machine today.
I would then source a new MechBoard64, somehow, and place it in this case with the Ultimate 64. Finally, I would adorn that keyboard with the new keycaps in black and dark grey.
This would the the Ultimate of Ultimate 64s. I have always been a fan of darker color schemes as by the evidence of most of my past computer selections. I would make this my “daily driver” C64 as it would have the comforts and reliability of modern devices, like USB and networking while also enjoying all the retro fun and access to the hardware peripherals that gave the Commodore 64 its enduring charm.
I really enjoy all the work that has been done in keeping the Commodore 64 going. In many ways, it is better cared for by the retro computing community than it ever was by Commodore itself when it was their bread and butter. Looking at all of these projects that exist today, we can actually be happy about Commodore’s mismanagement of their intellectual property. Too bad those at the top never really knew what they had. The good thing is, the heart of the community keeps this platform alive. It will likely be the study of anthropologists in the future.
I am very excited for RetroKeyCaps.com to deliver these keycaps to us. My fingers are crossed and I am hopefully they will be available soon. I will be watching and preparing to build my own, new, specially tailored, unique to me Commodore 64.
MechBoard64 | Replacement Commodore 64 Keyboard
Retro Recipes, World’s First All New Commodore 64