MEGA65 – The most expected C64 successor will have a developer kit available for pre-order on June 18

This thing is loaded. :slight_smile: Xilinx FPGA, cherryMX retro keyboard, 4(!) SIDs, support for Commodore drives, etc.

The MEGA – Museum of Electronic Games & Art has announced that the first batch of development kit of the MEGA65 will be ready for pre-orders next week at Trenz-Electronic.

This is a limited run aimed at developers who want to participate in shaping the final machines, which are expected to be released in 2021 or want to start producing software for the MEGA65. The DevKit comes with special developer support.

The MEGA65 is the modern take of what the successor of the Commodore 64 would be. It runs around 50x faster than the C64 while keeping a high level of compatibility

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I like these new-developed “improved” versions of old hardware, except for one thing: The integrated keyboard. For me, that time has passed. I don’t want an integrated, hard-to-type-on keyboard anymore. I want a detached, ergonomic keyboard, preferably of my own choice, not one attached on top of a box at an angle I’m (as a touch-typist) not comfortable with. In other words… I would want the retro hardware to support a modern, standard keyboard. It would be so hard to go back to the old way that I don’t think I can do it.
And even back then… the Basis-108 dual Apple II / CP/M system I used in 1982-83 had a detached flat keyboard.

Interesting! I feel the opposite way: if it’s worth buying retro lookalike gear, then I want the look and feel. Admittedly, the Spectrum Next’s keyboard is relatively unpleasant to use, but it does feel authentic. In that particular case, they included a PS/2 port so you can use an external keyboard instead.

Similarly, one reason I like PiTubeDirect and other modern Beeb upgrades is that I can use the original chassis and keyboard, and get the same feel as back in the day - but with better facilities on the inside.

Clearly, this is all a matter of personal preference!

Then the Cherry MX switches are certainly the worst… :slight_smile:

I think, it depends on the quality of the original machine. The Beeb had an outstanding keyboard for its time. For an example to the contrary, I was playing with the idea of acquiring a C64 Max to engage in a bit of more serious C64 programming, but I was never too fond of the bread-bin form factor (especially for the position and feel of the keyboard) and the idea of going back to this was prohibitive.
Adding a better keyboard but still reminiscent of a quite decent original form factor may be a clever compromise. The integrated form factor has probably become part of the appeal of a ready-to-go ROM-based machine.

I imagine a lot of these projects - like the surviving originals - spend a lot of time on the shelf, so they need to look the part. Adding a PS/2 port is not too difficult, I think, adding a USB keyboard capability not that much more. (Although some small segment of the target audience will not want a powerful microcontroller as an integral part of their retro recreation, because people have many and various reasons for liking retro objects.)

Maybe, there’s a third way, a 80s-style low-level keyboard port for a “clean” retro machine and providing an Apple-style dongle including the USB controller (much like the USB to serial adapters, but the other way round). – Oh no, now I’ve created a clever business idea! :wink: