Liwaco’s Casio Clones

Liwaco LW-630

The Liwaco LW-630, a Casio PT-30 clone

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-60E

Liwaco LW-60E

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-80

Liwaco LW-80

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-600

Liwaco LW-600

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-610

Liwaco LW-610

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-630

Liwaco LW-630

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.

Liwaco LW-640

Liwaco LW-640

Today, there is a Hong Kong company called Liwaco, but I don’t know if there are any connections to this French manufacturer.

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  • Tim  On 2010/08/17 at 16:33

    *Very* interesting! I had no idea this company existed. Looks like even the ROM Packs themselves are rebranded as “Liwaco ROM” :-) Lovely case colours too!

    Incidentally, the Realistic Concertmate range were also sold in the UK through Tandy shops. As far as I know, they didn’t bother to re-brand the actual ROM Packs.

  • Alex Andersson  On 2010/09/02 at 14:48

    Liwaco also manufactured a lot of their own ‘game-and-watch’ style handhelds back in the 1980’s and you still see them pop up on eBay every few weeks. I’ve only ever seen two Liwaco keyboards on eBay over the last 3 years, so they must be quite rare.

  • Tim  On 2010/12/20 at 22:53

    There is also a Russian clone of the Casio VL-1, called the Electronica IM-46. I’ve never seen one, but someone once told me that it was black!

  • generror  On 2010/12/21 at 08:00

    Yes, I know about it, but not much more that it exists. Apparently there was a white version (see here), but also a super-cool black version (see here). Lovely!

  • nicolas  On 2011/04/22 at 11:28

    Liwaco is not a french company but a Swiss company.

  • Conan3D  On 2011/05/22 at 11:46

    I’ve just bought the Liwaco LW610 for pretty cheap (8€, ~11$). It works very well and is pretty looking.

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