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'Ultimate nerd chick’ prompts C64 clone cancellation

Project Bread Bin... binned

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A damning tweet from one Jeri Ellsworth, described by a Register reader as “the ultimate Commodore 64 nerd chick”, has put the mockers on Project Bread Bin, one retro-tech fan’s dream to build a cut-price Commodore 64-compatible computer in a keyboard case.

Earlier this week, C64 fan Daniel Biehl called out to the crowd to request $150,000 to fund the device’s development.

But following harsh criticism by snooty soldering-iron wielders on electronics forums, which in turn led to Ellsworth’s put-down, Biehl has now cancelled the project.

Pledges made will be refunded, though since the poor lad had only managed to drum up a handful of supporters that won’t be difficult.

But why should one lass’s tweet make such a difference? Ellsworth, it turns out, is something of a celebrity among hardware hackers and of Commodore 64 fans in particular.

In 2002, she co-designed the C-One, a motherboard based on a 6502-compatible CPU and a set of field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chips which can be loaded with code to emulate the Commodore 64’s dedicated logic.

On the back of the C-One, Ellsworth was hired in 2004 to build the C64 Direct-to-TV, a joystick that hooked up to a TV to play 30 pre-loaded C64 games. She’s been tinkering with various kinds of C64-related hardware ever since and now has something of a cult following among makerboys, including Biehl, according to the Project Bread Bin site.

Ellsworth’s tweets damned Biehl’s project first as “naïve” and later as a “scam” - a verdict he says he found “heartbreaking”. No chance of a date now, we fear...

Reflecting on the week’s events, Biehl writes: “In hindsight I can see where I’ve screwed up in putting this project together. I’ve made mistakes and I admit it.” But he denies the project was a swindle.

As other, less disparaging commenters have noted, Biehl asked for $150,000 without any real idea as to how much hiring hardware developers and moulding experts to create protoypes would cost, something he tacitly admitted on the project’s web page. Perhaps, they say, he should have checked all this out before asking for contributors’ cash.

But it’s not at all uncommon for enthusiasm to shoulder past calm reason. Where someone is calling for funding for their dream device, others are responding to the call - rushing to be an emptor and forgetting the caveat - while other folk just hurl invective on forums. ®

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