Author Topic: Amstrad CPC "Mini"  (Read 12915 times)

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Offline Amstradan

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Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« on: 16:30, 21 December 19 »
Hello


I am new here, so please forgive if this post is in the wrong place!


Recently I was impressed by the wave of "mini" versions of old consoles and systems being re-released either with Raspberry Pi internals or something similar. I have a RetroPi running and enjoy emulation in general (I also have owned several vintage CPC systems and sold them again). I think they're so popular because they're retro content, packaged up in a modern, easy to use "plug n play" interface.


I'm interested in why no one has produced an Amstrad CPC "Mini" version. Lately the C64 Mini (with working keyboard and HDMI output/side-loadable ROMs via USB) was released and I got one, and it's ace.


I saw a thread on here ([size=78%]http://www.cpcwiki.eu/forum/other-retro/amstrad-cpc-mini/[/size]) but I don't think that user got a decent answer as to what's blocking someone from making one of these machines. I'd really like to have a stab at putting together a plan to do this.


By a lucky fluke, I think I may know and be able to get access to the person who would be able to permit use of the Amstrad brand, and some of the software/games that people would want to see on the thing.


Having taken the C64 mini to bits and put it back together I think I know roughly what would be required to produce such a thing but I'm not deeply technical - I'm a Product Manager by trade, and launching new ventures is my thing.


I think there's clearly a market for such a product, and marketing and distribution channels ready to go to bring it to customers. 


Does anyone know of any roadblocking issues (Technical, Legal, Operational) why producing such a thing would be impossible?


What does the community think?


Cheers!
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Offline zeropolis79

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #1 on: 16:47, 21 December 19 »
Can't see any technical reason why it couldn't happen.

However, the rights holder Sky have been bitten by the Sinclair Vega Plus and withdrew permission for any of the Sinclair properties to be used, so having so many problems with that, they might not want to licence the CPC for such a project.
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Online TotO

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #2 on: 17:19, 21 December 19 »
Sky own the Amstrad name, but not sure they own any right about the CPC.
I have ear that Alan Sugar wanted to recover his brand... May be for that...
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Offline Gryzor

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #3 on: 17:51, 21 December 19 »
Name is one thing; you can call it something else if need be, but what about its looks? Can you have something looking like a CPC if you're not Chinese?
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Offline dragon

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #4 on: 21:29, 21 December 19 »
Why a company that only make pay tv decoders should want manufacture a computer where they no are in the game market?.


Null interest that's all.
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Offline asertus

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #5 on: 22:02, 21 December 19 »
Name is one thing; you can call it something else if need be, but what about its looks? Can you have something looking like a CPC if you're not Chinese?


If people of MSXVR can do it, with minor tweaking it should be possible, shouldn't it?
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Offline robcfg

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #6 on: 22:36, 21 December 19 »
Because MSX is just a specification, or a standard, not a product per se.


You can see that the MSXVR does not mimic a known MSX model.


If Sky holds the rights for the CPC designs, then you’ll have to ask permission to use or mimic them.
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Offline Gryzor

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #7 on: 23:28, 21 December 19 »
Oh look! An Oric Atmos with inverted colors! 😄
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Offline reidrac

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #8 on: 23:43, 21 December 19 »
I'm not sure I would like anything that "looks" like a CPC but is just a SoC running an emulator. I don't get the C64 mini and I don't get the The C64 (although is a full keyboard; still an emulator with a more or less fancy UI frontend).

If it is a SoC (call it a Raspberry Pi if you want), does it really matter that looks like a CPC?
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Offline Gryzor

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #9 on: 23:48, 21 December 19 »
I tend to agree with the logic, and it's certainly sound. But here's the thing (and I can't explain it) - my MiST was one of the best buys I ever did! Something about the FPGA...I really don't know!
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Offline reidrac

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #10 on: 00:20, 22 December 19 »
I tend to agree with the logic, and it's certainly sound. But here's the thing (and I can't explain it) - my MiST was one of the best buys I ever did! Something about the FPGA...I really don't know!

But the "mini" concept, as far as I know, is not FPGA.

I've been running VICE bare metal on a Raspberry Pi plugged to my CRT with composite video and it feels different than emulating on my regular PC. I'm not too familiar with the C64, but it feels like that thing when I test one of my CPC games on my 464 first time after months of development using an emulator: it plays better, like more fluid!

I don't have a lot of time to tinker with the real hardware, but then I don't think I would use a mini CPC either. That doesn't mean is not a brilliant idea, just not for me :)


EDIT: may be I lost my point :D What I tried to say with my reference to running VICE bare metal is that the emulation has latency and delay, FPGA improves that and I don't know if can be close to zero (but the emulation can be more accurate). VICE bare metal has ~90ms audio delay compared with ~360ms of the C64 mini, and 0 in a real C64 ;)
« Last Edit: 00:36, 22 December 19 by reidrac »
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Offline Amstradan

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #11 on: 15:37, 22 December 19 »
Can't see any technical reason why it couldn't happen.

However, the rights holder Sky have been bitten by the Sinclair Vega Plus and withdrew permission for any of the Sinclair properties to be used, so having so many problems with that, they might not want to licence the CPC for such a project.


Yeh good point. I think RCL tried to bite off more than they could chew with the vega (new handheld form factor) and their supply chain let them down from what I can tell but perhaps you're right Sky may be soured to the whole concept of licensing. They DID state they weren't expecting royalties from the usage rights though, and quality was the issue...


"Sky did not receive royalties for the use of the brand - any royalties due were payable to charity - and allowed its use in good faith. Due to the consistently substandard build quality of the units tested, and the continued failure of RCL to deliver on its promises, we have unfortunately been forced to withdraw the licence."
[/size][/color]
[/size]I wonder if you walked in there with a working prototype, a manufacturing plan and costed BOM, a distributor, and some software license agreements they'd go for it?[/color]
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Offline Amstradan

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #12 on: 15:42, 22 December 19 »
Sky own the Amstrad name, but not sure they own any right about the CPC.
I have ear that Alan Sugar wanted to recover his brand... May be for that...


That's interesting, I wonder what Lord Sugar wants from it, other than it's his name!?


I think Sky own the whole of Amstrad's IP but I don't see any patent protection on the design of the system that're in operation now. I'd need a legal view of course... 
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Offline Amstradan

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #13 on: 15:43, 22 December 19 »
Name is one thing; you can call it something else if need be, but what about its looks? Can you have something looking like a CPC if you're not Chinese?


Yeh good question - I searched for patents from Amstrad still in operation and didn't find anything. I wonder if any protection still exists?
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Offline Amstradan

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #14 on: 15:45, 22 December 19 »
Because MSX is just a specification, or a standard, not a product per se.


You can see that the MSXVR does not mimic a known MSX model.


If Sky holds the rights for the CPC designs, then you’ll have to ask permission to use or mimic them.


I think you're right about Sky's ownership. Kind of the hardest thing here (and I think I have an "in"!) is finding the relevant people and dusty documentation within Sky to unlock the answers to some of this stuff...
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Offline Amstradan

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #15 on: 15:54, 22 December 19 »
I'm not sure I would like anything that "looks" like a CPC but is just a SoC running an emulator. I don't get the C64 mini and I don't get the The C64 (although is a full keyboard; still an emulator with a more or less fancy UI frontend).

If it is a SoC (call it a Raspberry Pi if you want), does it really matter that looks like a CPC?


Totally fair point, and I also agree that my RetroPi does a great job of scratching my personal retro gaming itch but here's thing thing: the CPC was a mass market consumer electronics product and its simplicity and "plug n play" nature indicates that folks like us are the minority.


My working hypothesis is that of the approx 2.5M CPC customers worldwide, there's a bunch of folks who would like to revisit their youth but can't be arsed with all the tinkering / are time-poor and want something that "just works".


And as to looking like a CPC I would say that design and the "feel" of something absolutely does matter to a lot of people. Most folks in fact wouldn't know a SOC from a Sock and don't give a monkeys what's on the inside or wouldn't understand or care if you tried to explain it. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...and quite right too why should they care?


Retro content, but modern simplicity of accessible interface - C64 and SNES Mini prove there's a market for that, I guess the only question is "Why not Amstrad CPCs yet?" :)



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Offline zeropolis79

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #16 on: 08:33, 23 December 19 »
From what've heard, Amstrad sold up to Sky for in 2007 for£125 million. Apparently, Amstrad were responsible for selling BSkyB 75% of the set-top decoders.
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Offline GUNHED

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #17 on: 13:41, 23 December 19 »
Well, what would be a great thing? Easy to explain:

- Something you buy in a case and you switch it on and it works
- Emulates the CPC6128 (and maybe other CPC/Plus models)
- Has at least 512 KB expansion RAM (Dobbertin / dk'tronics / Revaldhino compatible)
- At least 512 KB expansion ROM
- Some kind of mass storage device, usable with the native OS (HxC like thingy maybe)
- Keyboard of course
- Joystick port of course


Such kind of thing would sell like crazy, in addition PDT and me could add SymbOS and FutureOS from the beginning. Also other often used ROMs could be added. Then this option would be great:

- Being able to start in different configurations
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Offline SkulleateR

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #18 on: 00:28, 24 December 19 »
@GUNHED


On the point ! I also would love to see some kind of simple interface so you can adapt existing hardware extensions or create new ones  8)
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Offline GUNHED

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #19 on: 00:39, 24 December 19 »
Thanks! Also it would be nice to have the expansion port, but one can think about a "all in one box" solution. But - really - it would be great to get it cased and not just some kind of PCB which need lot's of work to get it startet.  :)
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Offline SkulleateR

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #20 on: 13:24, 24 December 19 »
Yes, it definitely should be "ready-to-use" like :


open box -> connect PSU and HDMI -> turn on TV and "CPC-Mini" -> GO !


That is what would sell such a beauty, other people who love to fiddle around with technics/PCB/anything already got a Rasp Pi I guess  :P
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Offline Gryzor

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #21 on: 13:28, 24 December 19 »
So, with "ROMs" included? Amsoft?😄
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Offline SkulleateR

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #22 on: 13:39, 24 December 19 »
So, with "ROMs" included? Amsoft?😄


Should be the goal, yes ! I don't think it would sell very good without them ...
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Offline Amstradan

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #23 on: 15:56, 24 December 19 »
Thanks! Also it would be nice to have the expansion port, but one can think about a "all in one box" solution. But - really - it would be great to get it cased and not just some kind of PCB which need lot's of work to get it startet.  :)


Yes that's exactly what I had in mind :)


Kind of similar to Alan Sugar's approach if we're honest!
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Offline Amstradan

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Re: Amstrad CPC "Mini"
« Reply #24 on: 15:59, 24 December 19 »

Should be the goal, yes ! I don't think it would sell very good without them ...


@SkulleateR Agreed, this should be the goal. I have a hypothesis that you could bundle the Amsoft games (licensing may still be available from Sky) and a selection of others that were possible to get / abandonware-state or made commercial sense to reward via royalties in extreme cases.


I guess I'd start with a list like this one, and work through it one at a time looking for bundling opportunities!


What do you think?


https://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/Top_games
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