Machines with Software eXchangeability (MSX1)
Machines with Software eXchangeability (MSX) is the name of the standard for consumer computers in the 1980s. It was an attempt to create uniform standards for hardware developers, initiated by the Japanese branch of Microsoft and Kazuhiko Nishi, who headed it at that time. Also involved in the development of the standard is the now well-known Japanese company ASCII Corporation, founded by Nishi together with Kazuya Watanabe specifically for this purpose. MSX computers gained great popularity in Japan and a number of other countries, however, despite the support of Microsoft, they almost did not gain popularity in the USA and Europe. In total, more than 7.5 million copies of MSX-compatible computers have been sold worldwide, 5 million of them in Japan.
Nishi proposed the MSX standard as an attempt to create a single industry standard for consumer computers. Inspired by the success of standardization in video recording (the VHS standard), many electronics manufacturers, including Goldstar, Philips, and Spectravideo, developed and promoted MSX computers. Any device or software bearing the MSX logo was compatible with other manufacturers' MSX products. Specifically, the standard described the format and functionality of expansion cartridges, allowing any expansion device or game cartridge to run on any MSX computer.
Nishi's standard consisted mainly of a few knots already available. These are a Zilog Z80 processor operating at a frequency of 3.58 MHz, a TMS9918 video controller from Texas Instruments with 16 KB of video memory, and an AY-3-8910 sound generator chip from General Instrument (GI). These components, together with Microsoft's MSX BASIC interpreter, made MSX a competitive standard, but also made the cost of corresponding computers quite high. The MSX standard closely resembled Spectravideo's then-existing SV-328 consumer computer, but this computer did not fully comply with the MSX standard. Spectravideo subsequently released the SV-728, which was already the standard MSX computer.
Until the advent and subsequent great success of Nintendo's Famicom game console, MSX computers were the main home platform for the most famous Japanese video game companies such as Konami and Hudson Soft. Game series such as Metal Gear, Bomberman and Valis began with games that were first released on MSX computers.
- Philips MSX 1 Computer Model VG-8020
- Processor: Zilog Z80A, clocked at 3.58 MHz
- ROM: 32 KB
- BIOS (16 KB)
- MSX BASIC v1.0 (16 KB)
- RAM: 8 KB to 64 KB
- Video controller: Texas Instruments TMS9918 family
- Video RAM: 16 KB
- Text modes: 40 x 24 and 32 x 24 characters
- Graphics mode: 256 x 192 (16 colors)
- Sprites: 32, 1 color, up to 4 sprites per image line
- Sound generator chip: General Instrument AY-3-8910 (PSG)
- 3 channels + noise