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System Lowdown


There was 8 bit computers' rush on early 80's, and MSX was also born at that time, in 1983. This great computer was known well in many countries, such as Japan, Korea, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Brazil, Finland, and many other areas and was called 'The Ultimate 8bit computer'.

The MSX standard
By the way 'MSX' stands for 'MicroSoft Extension". As you know from this, Microsoft standardized and many companies, like Panasonic, Sony, Sanyo, Philips, released them. Actually those companies did not produce computer related at that time. Why did such companies release MSX? Because this is supposed 'home computer'.

The MSX series history
MSX had progressed with the years; MSX1, MSX2, MSX2+, and MSX turboR which is 16bit. The two of latter were sold on only Japan though.
The earliest model MSX1 has Zilog Z80 CPU and 8 ~ 64KB memory (different by each models), 255x191 resolution with 16 colours of 512 colours. The sound capacity is well-known PSG. You can find some great games from Konami, like Gradius (AKA Nemesis) series. Surprisingly some of thier games like Gradius2 were added a sound chip created by Konami called SCC. This sound chip has good quality so that this exceled some arcade game machines at that time. Today you can find out this successor on PC-Engine (NEC), or some arcade game machines.

MSX1 was however weak to be Home computer, so MSX2 followed next to it. Although CPU and Sound chip are not changed, the graphics ability is reformed exceedingly; 128KB of VRAM, 512x212 with 16 colours of 512 colours, or, 256x212 with 256 colours at the same time. And some models have even 3.5 inch of FDD. Because of this good graphics ability, besides hundreds of games, some application softwares such as word processors appeared from some companies. In fact there was even a GUI OS (not just a shell) called 'HAL note' by HAL laboratory.

MSX2+ is not added so many changes from MSX2, and Z80 is still its CPU. The new feature is the expansion of its graphics; 20,000 colours can be shown at the same time. Some models have FM sound (6ch + drum). And all models have FDD. Until this time, 4,000,000 of MSX were sold on the world.

The last one got finally 16bit CPU R800 (28Mhz), MSX turboR, but unfortunately it was too late. There ware few commercial softwares for it so the market got reducing.

They're still developing!?
Now have MSX died? If you visit you'd see such view is wrong. Many active users release new games and even original hardwares for MSX in succession. Yes, MSX will continue to be the ultimate 8bit computer henceforth too.

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