Everybody knows about those licensed Casio clones built by Radio Shack in the US, but few people know that there’s another cloner. Liwaco was a French electronics gadget manufacturer of the 1980s, and besides many LCD games, they also released quite a few (licensed?) rebuilds of Casio mini keyboards. Some of them come in a pretty cool, or at least unique, bordeaux-red case.
Here’s a list of the Liwaco’s I could dig up. All of these keyboards are very rare and obscure, and I haven’t got any reliable information about any additional or left-out features, but everything I read (mostly small ads etc.) indicates that Liwaco just put the original hardware into a differently colored case — with French writing, of course.
Liwaco LW-60E: This is the Casiotone MT-11 (1982/83) in an ugly greyish-brownish case.
Liwaco LW-80: This is a clone of either the Casio PT-82 (1985) or PT-87 (1987); both only differ in that the PT-87 is missing the headphone jack, so… It’d be interesting to know if Liwaco also offered their own ROM-Packs?
Liwaco LW-600: This must be the most obscure Liwaco, I only found one image where half of it is displayed. Judging from it, it is probably a clone of the Casio PT-1 (c. 1984).
Liwaco LW-610: Now it gets interesting: This is the venerable VL-1 (1981), of course — ever seen a mini-synthesizer in a bordeaux case? I’d love to get my hands on one of these, to complete my collection of VL-1 clones (I already got the Radio Shack Concertmate 200).
Liwaco LW-630: This is the great PT-30 (c. 1982), one of my favorite keyboards and definitively underrated. It was an early successor of the VL-1, and doesn’t feature the synth, but it has an incredibly complex editable sequencer that stores several short patterns and allow them to be played back in any order… Also, I love the separate chord keys.
Liwaco LW-640: The last one is a clone of the PT-80 (c. 1984), again with ROM-Pack. Actually, this came before the PT-82/PT-87, and it’s still got the chord keys of the PT-30/PT-50 — I don’t quite understand Liwaco’s numbering scheme.
Today, there is a Hong Kong company called Liwaco, but I don’t know if there are any connections to this French manufacturer.