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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