MSX

In the 1980s Japan was in the midst of an economic awakening. Large Japanese electronics firms might have been successful in the early computer market had they made a concerted effort in the late 1970s. Their combined design and manufacturing power could have allowed them to produce competitive machines, but they initially ignored the home computer market and appear to have been hesitant to do business in a market where no industry standard existed.

The MSX was formally announced during a press-conference in June 27, 1983 (a date that is considered the birthday of the MSX standard) and a slew of big Japanese firms declared their plans to introduce machines. This set off a wave of panic in the U.S. and UK industry resulting in instant animosity toward MSX. However, the Japanese companies avoided the intensely competitive U.S. home computer market, which was in the throes of a Commodore-led price war. Only Spectravideo and Yamaha briefly marketed MSX machines in the U.S. Spectravideo's MSX enjoyed very little success, and Yamaha's CX5M model, built to interface with various types of MIDI equipment, was billed more as a digital music tool than a standard personal computer.

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During the 1980s Europe became the largest computer games (as opposed to console games) market in the world, and the extremely popular Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum computers dominated. By the time the MSX launched in Europe several more popular 8-bit home computers had also arrived, and it was far too late to capture the extremely crowded European 8-bit computer market.

A problem for some game software developers was that the method by which MSX-1 computers addressed their video ram (to draw a picture on the screen) could be quite slow compared to systems that gave direct access to the video memory. This, and the fact that the completely different features the MSX-1's video chip had to compensate for the slower video access were not efficiently used while porting (mostly Spectrum) software, made the MSX-1 to appear slower when running ported games. see: MSX Video access method

There were also some minor compatibility issues which plagued ported Spectrum games. Such as the Toshiba HX-10 machine being unable to read certain key combinations at the same time, (preventing the Spectrum-'standard' of Q,A, O,P steering) whereas machines by other manufacturers worked fine. Later (ported) games tended to use the MSX-1 joystick port or used MSX's official arrow keys and space bar, (or offered the option to choose other keys to control the program with) which solved the problem.

A larger problem was that the designers of the MSX standard bank switching protocol did not prescribe to hardware manufacturers in which banks the cartridges, but more important the RAM, should be found. And the MSX's BIOS did not provide this information either, thus requiring programmers to implement the complex routines to "find" these resources that were published in the official documentation from Microsoft. Often programmers did not bother, (or know) and just assumed that the RAM and cartridges would be available at an (imagined) "default" bank switch location. Which then lead to problems, because such "default" locations did not really exist, and in reality some systems had their RAM or cartridge slot(s) not at the "default" location, but on another bank switch location (which was completely allowed by the MSX specification). In those cases these sloppy written programs failed to run because they only "saw" 32K of the available memory, instead of the full 64K that almost all MSX-1 machines offered.

Consequently, partly due to all these perceived problems, MSX never became the worldwide standard that its makers had envisioned, mainly because it never took off in the United States and the UK. In Japan, South Korea and Brazil, MSX was the paramount home computer system in the 1980s. It was also quite popular in Europe (except in the UK). Especially in the Netherlands and Spain. Some Arab countries and in the Soviet Union there where classes of networked Yamaha MSX2 which were used for teaching informatics in school.

The Hotbit, developed by Sharp and marketed by Epcom, was a hit in Brazil.The exact meaning of the 'MSX' abbreviation remains a matter of debate. At the time, most people seemed to agree it meant 'MicroSoft eXtended', referring to the built-in 'MicroSoft eXtended BASIC' (MSX-BASIC), specifically adapted by Microsoft for the MSX system. However, according to Kazuhiko Nishi during a visit to Tilburg in the Netherlands on the 21st of April 2001, MSX could also stand for 'Machines with Software eXchangeability'. Maybe because of aversives against the global player Microsoft, this version was welcomed by the MSX community. The MSX-DOS disk operating system had file system compatibility with CP/M and was similar to MS-DOS. In this way, Microsoft could promote MSX for home use while promoting MS-DOS based personal computers in office environments.

MSX spawned four generations: MSX (1983), MSX2 (1986), MSX2+ (1988) and MSXturboR (1990). The first three were 8-bit computers based on the Z80 microprocessor, while the MSXturboR was based on an enhanced Zilog Z800 known as the R800. The MSXturboR was introduced in 1990 but was unsuccessful due to a lack of support and the rise in popularity of the by then well-established IBM PC Compatible market. Production of the Turbo R ended in 1995.

In total, 5 million MSX computers were sold, which made it relatively popular but not the global standard it was intended to be. For a comparison with rival 8-bit computers, the Commodore 64 sold 17 million units worldwide in its lifetime, the Apple II sold 6 million units, the Amstrad CPC sold 3 million units, and the Tandy TRS-80 sold 250,000 units.

In the 80's, Sakhr (ÕÎÑ) Computers (Developed by Al Alamyyeh a Kuwaiti company), started the production line of the first Arabian version of MSX computers. They started with a Yamaha AX100, but produced a few more models including an MSX2 and MSX2+ models. One of the most popular and affordable models was Sakhr MSX AX170. They were also the first to Arabize BASIC and LOGO for MSX.

Many MSX computers were used during 80's in Eastern European (former communist block) countries as a perfect tool for subtitling pirated films on VHS, or BETAMAX cassettes. The MSX computers were used for their simplicity and its ability to display prepared titles in real time as superimpose text on mastering tapes.

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Konamis Ping Pong

Box: 
yes
£20.00
Manual: 
yes
£20.00

Speed and timing! Spectacular shots! Exciting rallies! test your reflexes in a challenging simulation of Ping-Pong!

Yie Ar Kung Fu

Box: 
yes
£30.00
Manual: 
yes
£30.00

Although this is a Japanese game, MSX Games are not region locked and will play on any console.

Super Billiards

Box: 
yes
£20.00
Manual: 
yes
£20.00

Although this is a Japanese game, MSX Games are not region locked and will play on any console.

Sky Jaguar

Notes: 
This game is missing its manual
Box: 
yes
£15.00
Manual: 
no
£15.00

Although this is a Japanese game, MSX Games are not region locked and will play on any console.

Rollerball

Box: 
yes
£20.00
Manual: 
yes
£20.00

Although this is a Japanese game, MSX Games are not region locked and will play on any console.

Road Fighter

Box: 
yes
£15.00
Manual: 
yes
£15.00

Although this is a Japanese game, MSX Games are not region locked and will play on any console.

Konami Soccer

Box: 
yes
£25.00
Manual: 
yes
£25.00

Although this is a Japanese game, MSX Games are not region locked and will play on any console.

Konami Golf

Box: 
yes
£25.00
Manual: 
yes
£25.00

Although this is a Japanese game, MSX Games are not region locked and will play on any console.

Konami Baseball

Box: 
yes
£0.00
Manual: 
yes
£0.00

Although this is a Japanese game, MSX Games are not region locked and will play on any console.

Hyper Olympic 2

Notes: 
This game is brand new and sealed.
Box: 
yes
£0.00
Manual: 
yes
£0.00

Although this is a Japanese game, MSX Games are not region locked and will play on any console.

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