PC-8801 ruled 8bit computer scene in Japan. The reasons ware
fairly good graphics ability and excellent sound quality. In fact
it is said that its sound surpassed even SHARP X68000's which is 16bit/32bit
computer. Sound related topics will be mentioned again later.
This computer's CPU is 8bit standard chip Zilog Z80 4MHz
(later models have 8Mhz), and has also a co-processor for control
of FDD, the main ram is 64kbytes; those are very ordinary equipment
for 8bit machine. Although the early models have only TAPE for data
saving, next model PC-8801mkII have single or double 5 inch drive.
The unusual feature for 8bit computers is its graphics. The computer
which had high-resolution with colour graphics (640x200, digital(=fixed)
8 colours) was rare at that time. When further next model PC-8801mkIISR
was released, this computer occupy a position. This model has finally
FM music and better graphics (640x200 with 8 colours of 512 colours).
So 'SR' had produced many masterpieces, such as THEXDER (Gamearts),
YS series (Falcom), HYDLIDE series (T&E soft), and so many others.
Most of them were translated to also other platforms - MSX, PC-9801,
X68000, or game consoles etc. Even SQUARE was making some games
for this computer at first before they worked for Nintendo's.
As I mentioned above the noticeable point is its sound capacity.
The earlier models have 3ch of SSG and 3ch of FM (both are monaural).
This was enough to be surprised at that time, since other 8bit systems
have only BEEP or only SSG at best. When PC-8801FA was released,
this computer had stereo 6ch of FM (with a drum kit) besides SSG,
and even ADPCM (16khz) along with 256kb memory for sampling, in
spite of 8bit computer! Those features made other computer users
The heyday of PC-8801 series had been until late 80's. NEC
released also CD-ROM attached models and 16bit(!) models but the
stream could not be changed. Now we can revive the renowned sounds
with some emulators. Don't miss it.