Clone (information technology)

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In information technology , a clone (or English clone ) - or a so-called reimplementation (or re-implementation ; from Latin - English re-implementation for new implementation ) - is a hardware or software system that was developed for another system replicate exactly.


A clone is typically used when it is still in direct competition with the model product on the commercial market. If, however, it is a question of a replica of an obsolete or discontinued product (without market presence), the English speak of a remake , as a special case of a clone .


Clones and “remakes” are created for different reasons: competition, standardization , availability and also as a tribute . Compatibility with the exemplary system is usually the purpose of cloned hardware or low-level software such as operating systems (e.g. AROS and MorphOS , which should be compatible with the AmigaOS ). Application software can often be cloned so that it provides the same user functionality (all word processors have the same basic scope of functionality), but they can also be developed in such a way that they achieve technical compatibility, e.g. B. by supporting specific file formats of the original (e.g. is intended to be a replacement for Microsoft Office in both respects ).


“Supercom famiclone” was designed in such a way that it looks like a Super Famicom and is compatible with all NES modules at the same time.

Hardware clones

When IBM announced the IBM PC in 1981, other companies such as Compaq decided to create clones based on the IBM specification or through reverse engineering . Since most of the components, with the exception of the PC BIOS , were freely available, Compaq only had to reverse engineer the BIOS. The term "PC clone" to describe IBM PC-compatible computers originated at this time. However, this class of computers has simply been called PCs since the 1990s . There were also replicas of the Apple II .

In the console space, the Nintendo Entertainment System was one of the most commonly cloned systems because of its long-lasting popularity.

Hardware remakes

Hardware remakes are later replicas of old, expired systems. For old video game consoles or home computers, this often happens as part of retrogaming . A special but frequently encountered type of hardware remake are emulators , which emulate the hardware functionality in software. One example is the UAE emulator software, which tries to reproduce the behavior of a physical Amiga exactly.


Software clones

Software can be cloned by reverse engineering or as a legal re-implementation based on freely available documentation or specifications or by observing the program behavior. The motivation for cloning can be to avoid license fees. The Lotus v. Borland in the United States has given programmers the right to clone the publicly available functionality of a program without infringing its copyright . An example of cloning software is the ReactOS project, which tries to create a clone of Windows .

Computer games

Since the existence of computer games , successful concepts and games have often been cloned. As an example, the genre-building first-person shooter Doom led to a wave of so-called Doom clones (later referred to as first-person shooters) in the 1990s . In the 2000s, the action game Grand Theft Auto led to the creation of many Grand Theft Auto clones.

The open source software community also has an extensive tradition of creating clones of commercial proprietary game titles, see List of Open Source Computer Games . Examples are SuperTuxKart , a Mario Kart clone, or the Anno clone Unknown Horizons .

Software remakes

Software remakes are re-editions of old, obsolete or abandoned software (e.g. abandonware ).

Some of these remakes are fan games of computer games that come from the user community as part of retrogaming , also to counter the compatibility problem or simply the unavailability of the originals. Examples are the Siedler 1 remake “ Widelands ” or “ Maniac Mansion Deluxe” by the Lucasfan Games fan group . Such unauthorized, but non-commercially motivated fan works are in a legal gray area and are sometimes (benevolently) ignored by the rights holders, sometimes covered with declarations of omission , this happened, for example, in 2004 to a Chrono Trigger remake project as well as a Super Mario 64 remake 2015.

Since the 2000s there has also been an increasing number of commercial remakes of classic games by the developers (or rights holders) of the original, also because investment risks for niche products have also been reduced due to the now available digital distribution option . If the content of these has been upgraded (audio, graphics, etc.) then this is often referred to as “High definition”, “Special edition”, “Remastered” or “Enhanced”, an example is The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition .

Individual evidence

  1. re (English-German) - Pons , 2016; u. a. with "re-cov · he"
  2. implementation (English-German) - Pons , 2016
  3. Chrono Resurrection project ( Memento from May 7, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) “It is with our deepest regret that we have to announce the closure of the Chrono Resurrection project. Square Enix Co., Ltd issued a Cease and Desist letter which means the project is publicly closed indefinitely. " (September 6th, 2004)
  4. Nintendo Pulls the Plug on Fan-Made Super Mario 64 HD Remake Gamnesia, March 31st 2015 by Ben Lamoreux
  5. ( Memento from April 1, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) “an electronic game that makes unauthorized use of copyright-protected features of Nintendo's Super Mario 64 video game. Nintendo requests that CloudFlare, Inc. immediately disable public access to ”- ( Memento from April 1, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  6. John Walker: RPS Exclusive: Gabe Newell Interview . Rock, paper, shotgun . November 22, 2007. Retrieved June 28, 2013: “The worst days [for game development] were the cartridge days for the NES. It was a huge risk - you had all this money tied up in silicon in a warehouse somewhere, and so you'd be conservative in the decisions you felt you could make, very conservative in the IPs you signed, your art direction would not change , and so on. Now it's the opposite extreme: we can put something up on Steam, deliver it to people all around the world, make changes. We can take more interesting risks. [...] Retail doesn't know how to deal with those games. On Steam [a digital distributor] there's no shelf-space restriction. It's great because they're a bunch of old, orphaned games. "
  7. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition Tech Info . GameSpot . Retrieved November 15, 2011.
  8. Charles Onyett: E3 2009: The Secret of Monkey Iceland: Special Edition Preview . IGN . June 2, 2009. Archived from the original on May 27, 2012. Retrieved on November 15, 2011.