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Sony HitBit HB-10P (White Background).jpg
Sony MSX, Model HitBit 10-P
DeveloperASCII Corporation, Microsoft
ManufacturerNational, Sony, Pioneer, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Philips, Canon, Yamaha, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Sanyo, JVC, Fujitsu, Spectravideo, GoldStar, Hitachi, Kyocera, Yashica, Daewoo, Dragon MSX, Casio
TypeHome computer
Release date10/21/1983 (MSX)
Discontinued1993 (MSX turboR)
Operating systemMSX-DOS / MSX BASIC
CPUZilog Z80 Hitachi HD64180 R800
Memory8~512 KB

MSX is a standardized home computer architecture, announced by Microsoft and ASCII Corporation on June 16, 1983.[1][2] It was initially conceived by Microsoft as a product for the Eastern sector, and jointly marketed by Kazuhiko Nishi, then vice-president at Microsoft and director at ASCII Corporation.[3] Microsoft and Nishi conceived the project as an attempt to create unified standards among various home computing system manufacturers of the period, in the same fashion as the VHS standard for home video tape machines.[4][5]

MSX systems were popular in Japan and several other countries. Sony was the primary manufacturer of MSX systems at the time of release, and throughout most of the products’ lifespan, producing more units than any other manufacturer. Eventually 5 million MSX-based units were sold in Japan alone. Despite Microsoft’s involvement, few MSX-based machines were released in the United States.[6] The very first commercial MSX to the public was a Mitsubishi ML-8000, released in October 21, 1983, and thus marks the "release date".[7]

The meaning of the acronym MSX remains a matter of debate. In 2001, Kazuhiko Nishi recalled that many assumed that it was derived from “Microsoft Extended”, referring to the built-in Microsoft Extended BASIC (MSX BASIC). Others believed that it stood for "Matsushita-Sony". Nishi said that the team’s original definition was "Machines with Software eXchangeability",[8] although in 1985 he said it was named after the MX missile.[9] According to his book in 2020, he considered the name of the new standard should consist of three letters like VHS. He felt "MSX" was fit because it means "the next of Microsoft", and it also contains first letters of Matsushita (Panasonic) and Sony.[10]

Before the success of Nintendo’s Family Computer, MSX was the platform for which major Japanese game studios such as Konami and Hudson Soft produced video games. The Metal Gear series, for example, was first written for MSX hardware.[11]


The Spectravideo SV-328 is the predecessor of the MSX standard. Many MSX programs were unofficially ported to the SV-328 by home programmers.

In the early 1980s, most home computers manufactured in Japan such as the NEC PC-6001 and PC-8000 series, Fujitsu's FM-7 and FM-8, and Hitachi's Basic Master featured a variant of the Microsoft BASIC interpreter integrated into their on-board ROMs. The hardware design of these computers and the various dialects of their BASICs were incompatible.[12] Other Japanese consumer electronics firms such as Panasonic, Canon, Casio, Yamaha, Pioneer, and Sanyo were searching for ways to enter the new home computer market.

Major Japanese electronics companies entered the computer market in the 1960s, and Panasonic (Matsushita Electric Industrial) was also developing mainframe computers. However, during the Japanese economy faced a recession after the 1964 Summer Olympics, Panasonic decided to exit the computer business, and focused on home appliances. The decision brought a huge success, and Panasonic grew to become one of the largest electronics companies. In the late 1970s, the company intended to open new business other than home appliances. Also, the microcomputer revolution let Panasonic interest in its potential. One of Panasonic's distributers, Yamagata National, told Panasonic's president, Toshihiko Yamashita, that "Recently, NEC's personal computers sell well in Yamagata too, and our dealers also request merchandise. However, we must purchase not only personal computers but also home appliances from NEC. I think Matsushita also need develop personal computers". Yamashita ordered the vice president, Shunkichi Kisaka, to develop a personal computer, and Kisaka called on Kazuyasu Maeda of Matsushita R&D Center.[13]

Maeda requested Nishi to cooperate on the development. They were already close each other. When they met at a seminar held by NEC, they noticed both were from Kobe, and had graduated the same university. They often talked to each other about home computers. At the same time, Spectravideo contacted Microsoft in order to obtain a software for their new home computer. Nishi went to Hong Kong to meet with Spectravideo, and suggested some improvements to its prototype. Spectravideo's president, Harry Fox, was willing to accept Nishi's proposals. Nishi conceived to create a unified standard based on its machine, and Maeda agreed with his idea.[10] Nishi wanted to involve Panasonic and Sony in the development of home computers. They were competing for videotape formats, but Nobuyuki Idei of Sony accepted his proposal. Idei thought Sony should cooperate with Panasonic on its development because the SMC-70, Sony's first personal computer, faced difficulty in the market when Sony started the computer business. Maeda also wanted to invite NEC, but NEC chose to go its own way.[13]

Nishi proposed MSX as an attempt to create a single industry standard for home computers. Inspired by the success of VHS as a standard for video cassette recorders, many Japanese electronic manufacturers along with GoldStar, Philips and Spectravideo built and promoted MSX computers. Any piece of hardware or software with the MSX logo on it was compatible with MSX products of other manufacturers. In particular, the expansion cartridge form and function were part of the standard; any MSX expansion or game cartridge would work in any MSX computer.

Nishi's standard was built around the Spectravideo SV-328 computer.[14] The standard consisted primarily of several off-the-shelf parts; the main CPU was a 3.58 MHz Zilog Z80,[15] the Texas Instruments TMS9918 graphics chip with 16 KB of dedicated VRAM, the sound and partial I/O support was provided by the AY-3-8910 chip manufactured by General Instrument (GI), and an Intel 8255 Programmable Peripheral Interface chip was used for the parallel I/O such as the keyboard. This was a choice of components that was shared by many other home computers and games consoles of the period, such as the ColecoVision and Sega SG-1000 video game systems. To reduce overall system cost, many MSX models used a custom IC known as "MSX-Engine", which integrated glue logic, 8255 PPI, YM2149 compatible soundchip and more, sometimes even the Z80 CPU. However, almost all MSX systems used a professional keyboard instead of a chiclet keyboard, driving the price up compared to the original SV-328. Consequently, these components alongside Microsoft's MSX BASIC made the MSX a competitive, though somewhat expensive, home computer package.


Yamaha YIS503II MSX Personal Computer designed for Soviet schools—the abbreviature "КУВТ" means "Class of Teaching Computing Equipment)"
The Canon V-20 has 64 KB of RAM while its little brother, the V-10, has 16 KB.

On 27 June 1983,[16] the MSX was formally announced during a press conference, and a slew of big Japanese firms declared their plans to introduce machines. 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.


MSX spawned four generations. The first three, MSX (1983), MSX2 (1985),[17] and MSX2+ (1988), were all 8-bit computers based on the Z80 microprocessor. The MSX2+ was exclusively released in Japan.

A new MSX3 was originally scheduled to be released in 1990, but delays in the development of its Yamaha-designed VDP caused it to miss its time to market deadline.[18] In its place, the MSX TurboR was released, which used the new custom 16-bit R800 microprocessor developed by ASCII Corporation intended for the MSX3, but features such as DMA and 24-bit addressing were disabled. Like the MSX2+, the MSX TurboR was exclusively released in Japan. By the time the MSX TurboR standard was announced in 1990, only Panasonic was manufacturing MSX computers. Its initial model FS-A1ST met with moderate success, but the upgraded model FS-A1GT introduced in 1991 sold poorly due to its high retail cost of 99800 yen. Production of the TurboR ended in 1993 when Panasonic decided to focus on the release of 3DO.[citation needed] The VDP was eventually delivered in 1992, two years after its planned deadline, by which time the market had moved on. In an attempt to reduce its financial loss, Yamaha stripped nearly all V9958 compatibility and marketed the resulting V9990 E-VDP III as a video-chipset for PC VGA graphic cards, with moderate success.


The Hotbit, developed by Sharp's Epcom home computer division, was a hit in Brazil.
Talent TPC-310 MSX2 computer, made in Argentina by Telematica (1988), based on a Daewoo design. In Spain they were sold as the "Dynadata" brand in a white case.
MSX Sakhr AX150 (صخر), made in Japan by Yamaha for the Kuwaiti company Al Alamiah, sold in Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council states.

In Japan, South Korea, Argentina, and Brazil, the MSX was the preeminent home computer system of the 1980s. It was also fairly popular in continental Europe, especially in the Netherlands and Spain. Classrooms full of networked Yamaha MSX computers were used for teaching informatics in schools in some Arab countries, the Soviet Union, and Cuba, where they were widely used in public schools,[19][20] which allowed the Cuban government to educate students in computer subjects. In total, 9 million MSX computers were sold in Japan, making it relatively popular. However, the MSX did not become the worldwide standard envisioned because of limited adoption in other markets. Before the MSX's lack of success in these markets became apparent, US manufacturer Commodore Business Machines overhauled its product line in the early 1980s and introduced models such as the Plus/4 and Commodore 16 that were intended to better compete with the features of MSX computers.

In comparison with rival 8-bit computers, the Commodore 64 sold 22-30 million units[21] worldwide by 1985,[22] and continued being sold for another decade. The Apple II sold 6 million units,[23] the ZX Spectrum over 5 million units, the Atari 8-bit sold at least 4 million units, the Amstrad CPC sold 3 million units, and the Tandy TRS-80 Model 1 sold 250,000 units.[citation needed]

A Sony MSX2 machine was launched into space to the Russian Mir space station.[24]

Similar systems

The system MSX most closely resembled was the Spectravideo SV-328 home computer (Spectravideo even claimed to be "MSX compatible" in advertisements before the actual launch of MSX systems, but it was in fact not completely compatible with it). This led to a new and short-lived kind of software cracking: converting. Since the MSX games were unplayable on the SV-328 computer, SV-328 crackers developed a method of modifying the (MSX) games to make them work on the SV-328. In most cases this included downloading the MSX BIOS to the SV-328 from tape or floppy disk. Spectravideo later launched the SVI-728 which completely adhered to the MSX standard.

The Sega SG-1000, the Memotech MTX and the ColecoVision all have many similarities with the MSX1 standard, but none are really compatible with it. Porting games between those systems is somewhat easy. It was also very common to port games from the ZX Spectrum to the MSX, since both have the same CPU, the Spectrum 128 had the same soundchip, and the ZX Spectrum's graphic mode could be easily emulated on the MSX's screen-2 mode.


By default MSX machines have a hardcoded character set and keyboard scan code handling algorithm. While MSX has full application software compatibility at the firmware (BIOS) level, due to minor hardware differences, replacement of the BIOS with another from different PC may render incorrect scan code translations and thus incorrect behaviour of the keyboard subsystem for the application software.

In 2011 AGE Labs introduced Language Pack firmware, aiming to make each model support several localizations. By default installed into GR8BIT instead of the Kanji-ROM, it allows changing the character set and keyboard layout of the machine at startup. This allowed changing between Japanese, Russian, International and Portuguese locales, and the ability to change locales during machine operation using newly introduced BASIC command LANG.[25] Selected locale setting is stored into the unused RTC NVRAM memory space.


Several popular video game franchises were established on the MSX:

  • Antarctic Adventure and Penguin Adventure
  • Aleste and Zanac (the latter developed and released alongside the original FDS version)
  • Bomberman
  • Eggerland
  • Metal Gear
  • Parodius
  • Puyo Puyo

Others received various installments on the MSX, including several titles unique to the system or largely reworked versions of games on other formats:

  • Castlevania (as Vampire Killer)
  • Contra
  • Dragon Quest
  • Dragon Slayer
  • Final Fantasy
  • Gradius (Nemesis)
  • R-Type
  • Wizardry
  • Xak
  • Xevious: Fardraut Saga
  • Ys


Spectravideo, Philips, Al Alamiah, Sony, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Hitachi, National/Panasonic, Canon, Casio, Pioneer, Fujitsu General, Yamaha, JVC, Yashica-Kyocera, GoldStar, Samsung/Fenner, Daewoo/Yeno, Gradiente, Sharp/Epcom, Talent.
Philips, Sony, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, Victor (a.k.a. JVC), Toshiba, National/Panasonic, Canon, Yamaha, ACVS/CIEL*, DDX*, Daewoo/Yeno, NTT, Talent.
Sony, Sanyo, Panasonic, ACVS/CIEL*, DDX*.
MSX TurboR
Do-it-yourself MSX
AGE Labs

Note *: Clones or Unlicensed equipment.


2001 Revival


In 2001, Kazuhiko Nishi initiated a 'MSX Revival' around an official MSX emulator called MSXPLAYer. This is the only official MSX emulator as all MSX copyrights are maintained by the MSX Association. In 2004, a Dutch company Bazix announced they had become the representatives of MSX Association in Europe, being the English contact for any questions regarding the MSX trademarks, copyrights, and licensing. On October 17, 2006, Bazix launched WOOMB.Net, a website selling MSX games in English and other languages, with a selection of 14 games. In Japan, game sales began earlier, through Project EGG. WOOMB.Net was the English counterpart of this and other Japanese services offered by D4 Enterprise, which also announced in August 2006 the launch of a new MSX2 compatible system called the "one chip-MSX", a system based on an Altera Cyclone EP1C12Q240C8 FPGA.[26] The one chip-MSX" is similar in concept to the C-One, a Commodore 64 clone also built on the basis of a single FPGA chip. The new MSX system is housed in a box made out of transparent blue plastic, and can be used with a standard monitor (or TV) and a PC keyboard. It has two MSX cartridge slots and supports the audio extensions MSX-MUSIC and SCC+. A SD/MMC-flashcard can be used as an external storage medium, emulating a disk drive and can be used to boot MSX-DOS. Due to its VHDL programmable hardware, it is possible to give the device new hardware extensions simply by running a reconfiguration program under MSX-DOS. The "one chip-MSX" also has two USB connectors that can be used after adding some supporting VHDL code.

On June 7, 2008, the MSX Resource Center Foundation reported that the MSX trademark had moved from MSX Association to the MSX Licensing Corporation,[27] referring to a Benelux trademark register page of MSX, which names the MSX Licensing Corporation as entitled entity till 28-10-2013.[28] At that time, the website of the MSX Licensing Corporation that they linked to as source, had a text saying 'We are planning to revitalize MSX, the innovative computer platform.' on it. However, the website was later changed to contain only the logo of ITNY & Partners, and a link to ITNY & Partners' English and Japanese websites and has no mention of the MSX Licensing Corporation at all. On June 26, 2008, Bazix reported on their website's front page that they are no longer the representative of MSX Association, due to being unable to achieve their goals of "bringing about the commercial MSX Revival beyond the Japanese borders" and "the transfer of the MSX trademark from MSX Association to MSX Licensing Corporation" and "no outlook on any progress in the Western One Chip MSX project any time soon". As a result of this, WOOMB.Net is taken offline as well, with its website redirecting to the Bazix website, until "a solution free of MSX Association's contributions has been completed". According to their post, they will cooperate with D4 Enterprise and the MSX Licensing Corporation "in one or more retro gaming related projects".

On July 4, 2008, MSX Association's European contact website, which states to be the "only official contact place for MSX Association in Europe", reports that the MSX trademark and copyright has been under the MSX Licensing Corporation holding ever since 1983. It explains that MSX Association, chaired by Dr. Kazuhiko Nishi is the operational division of MSX Licensing Corporation which manages the trademarks, logo and copyrights for MSX. According to the same article, D4 Enterprise "refuse to pay royalties to MSX Association for the use of ESE Artists' Factory's work in 1chipMSX and the software licenses in Project Egg", thus they deal with Kazuhiko Nishi 'directly' through the MSX Licensing Corporation. The article mentions as well the ESE MSX System 3, on which the 1chipMSX (also known as One Chip MSX or OCM) is based.

On July 5, 2008, the MSX Association's Europe website posted an announcement reporting that D4 Enterprise was selling the 1chipMSX illegally.[29] In the same post it is stated that Bazix no longer is their representative in Europe, due to Bazix cutting off their relationship.

2011 Revival

Assembled GR8BIT kit

In 2011, AGE Labs announced[30] the launch of a MSX kit called GR8BIT[31] - the do-it-yourself computer for learning purposes, which was licensed by the MSX Licensing Corporation. The kit is priced at $499 and includes all necessary components to assemble a working MSX2 compatible computer, except for an ATX chassis, power supply, floppy drive, hard disk, PS/2 keyboard and monitor. It also comes with assembly and operational manuals and a supplement compiled from vendor and community support (from the "GR8BIT Engineering Community").

2014 Revival

SymbOS, an alternative operating system

Some of the Korean forum members who made Zemmix Neo created a new version of MSX called Mini IQ3000 Cutie, which has similar features to the IQ-2000 (MSX2. Made in Korea. Daewoo Electronics ) It is based on 1ChipMSX but has some special features like 'Scan Line Generator' and 'Multi Language Support'. The scan line generator generates scan lines to show the MSX screen with better quality. It supports 2 languages at the same time. Normally it shows Korean font and working as Korean version of MSX but when pressing the 'del' key while booting, it changes to Japanese mode. Even though the default mode is Korean, the default font allocation table is Japanese, as it shows Japanese characters when executing Japanese version software.[32]

2019 Revival

MSX Philips VG8020
MSX Philips VG8020

In 2019 a group of fans developed the so-called MSX Mini Replica. It is a 1:2 scale reproduction of the Philips VG-8020 computer compatible with the software of the MSX, MSX2, MSX2 + and Turbo R generations. It incorporates 2 USB ports, an HDMI video output and internally uses the same hardware as the C64 Mini. Connecting am additional peripheral, called MSX Player, can run original games on ROM cartridge.

2020 Revival

Phillips Music Module
Phillips Music Module

The MSXVR is a computer released in 2020 and compatible with the MSX family of computers. Like the latest Zemmix game consoles, it is also based on a Raspberry Pi card with additional circuitry to connect the original MSX peripherals.

System specifications

MSX[33] MSX2 MSX2+ MSX TurboR
Release Worldwide (1983) Worldwide (1985) Only officially in Japan (available in Europe and Brazil via upgrades) (1988) Only Japan (1990)
Processor Zilog Z80A running at 3.58 MHz Zilog Z80A running at 3.58 MHz Zilog Z80-compatible running at 3.58 MHz (the MSX2+ models from Panasonic can be set to run on 5.37 MHz by software, but this is not part of the standard)
  • R800 running at 7.16 MHz (instructions use about 4× less clock ticks than the Z80, so often quoted as 28.6 MHz when comparing with the Z80)
  • Zilog Z80A-compatible (embedded in the T9769C MSX-Engine) running at 3.58 MHz for backward compatibility
ROM 32 kB 48 kB 64 kB 96 kB
  • BIOS (16 kB)
  • MSX BASIC V1.0 (16 kB)
  • BIOS + Extended BIOS (32 kB)
  • MSX BASIC V2.0 or V2.1 (16 kB)
  • DiskROM (16 kB) (optional, common)
  • MSX-Audio BIOS (32 kB) (optional, no machines are known with this BIOS built in)
  • BIOS + extended BIOS (32 kB)
  • MSX BASIC V3.0 (16 kB)
  • DiskROM (16 kB) (optional, very common)
  • Kun-BASIC (16 kB) (optional)
  • Kanji ROM (optional)
  • BIOS + Extended BIOS (48 kB)
  • MSX BASIC V4.0 (16 kB)
  • DiskROM (16 kB)
  • Kun-BASIC (16 kB)
  • Kanji ROM (256 kB)
  • Firmware (4 MB)
RAM 8 kB minimum, most machines provided either 32 or 64 kB; machines with 128 kB exist 64 kB minimum, commonly 128 kB in Europe, 64 kB on Japanese computers, machines with up to 512 kB were made. Normally memory mapped (4 MB per slot maximum) Commonly 64 kB (on Japanese computers), normally memory mapped (4 MB per slot maximum) 256 kB (FS-A1ST) or 512 kB (FS-A1GT)
  • Memory-mapped (4 MB/slot max)
  • Additionally 16 kB (FS-A1ST) or 32 kB (FS-A1GT) of SRAM (battery-powered)
Video display processor Texas Instruments TMS9918 family
  • Video RAM: 16 kB
  • Text modes: 40×24 and 32×24
  • Resolution: 256×192 (16 colours). In reality, there are just 15 colour tints available, because, just like Sinclair Spectrum there are two codes for black. Unlike the Spectrum, however, one of the blacks is actually "transparent", so the MSX video picture could be overlaid on another video signal, for example one from a video disk.
  • Sprites: 32, 1 colour, max 4 per horizontal line
Yamaha V9938 (a.k.a. MSX-Video) Supports all MSX video modes
  • Increased video RAM: 128 KB (sometimes 64 kB)
  • New text mode: 80×24
  • New bitmapped video modes without the attribute clash of MSX 1
  • New resolutions: 512×212 (16 colours out of 512) and 256×212 (256 colours)
  • Increased number of, and more advanced sprites: 32, 16 colours, max 8 per horizontal line
  • Hardware acceleration for copy, line, fill, etc.
  • Interlacing to double vertical resolution
  • A vertical scroll register
  • Vertical and horizontal display offset register
Yamaha V9958
  • The minimal video RAM is now 128 kB. Up to 192 kB is supported.
  • a new 256×212 YJK video mode with 19268 simultaneous colors
  • a new 256×212 mixed-YJK/RGB video mode with 12499 simultaneous colors
  • a horizontal scroll register
Yamaha V9958 (aka MSX-Video), so the same capabilities as MSX2+
Sound chip General Instrument AY-3-8910 (PSG) Yamaha YM2149 (PSG)
  • Yamaha YM2149 (PSG)
  • Optional sound chip: Yamaha YM2413 (OPLL) (MSX-Music)
  • Yamaha YM2149 (PSG)
  • Optional sound chip: Yamaha YM2413 (OPLL) (MSX-Music)
  • PCM
    • 8-bit single channel (no DMA), 16 kHz max using BIOS routines
    • Microphone built-in
  • (FS-A1GT only): MIDI in/out
Clock chip (Not installed.) Ricoh RP5C01 (or compatible)
  • Floppy disk
  • Datasette
  • Cartridge


The effect of attribute clash when using the 256×192 high-resolution mode on MSX-1. To avoid it, the TMS9918 provides up to 32 sprites that can be superimposed over the main graphic screen.
MSX2+ computer: a Panasonic FS-A1WSX


The keyboard is a functionally separate unit which could be connected by non-multiplexed and multiplexed interfaces. Multiplexed keyboard units feature additional data direction line, allowing sending scan line number to the keyboard using same data lines used for return scan code, decreasing overall number of wires between keyboard and machine. Non-multiplexed interface is usually used for internal keyboards (and some external keyboards, like Panasonic CF-3300); multiplexed interface is used for external keyboards (e.g. in Yamaha YIS805 model).

The keyboard is organized as a matrix with maximum 11 input lines and 8 output lines, accounting for maximum 88 keys (including all control, numerical and alphanumerical keys). Each scan line is regularly queried to identify the state of the keys on the line; query speed is identified by the system interrupt frequency. Such organization allows system to sense state of each key, not exhibiting notorious problem with 8042 microcontroller-based keyboards when pressing several keys simultaneously (usually more than 3) generates wrong input characters, or renders inability to sense the press of more keys.

Due to the keyboard scan being controlled by the system interrupts, one of the troubleshooting hints when an MSX machine does not display any image (assuming power is present) is to press the CAPS key to see if the respective LED toggles. If it does not toggle, the system is likely suffering a more serious problem than just lack of image on the screen (i.e. the problem with video cable or video display interface in overall).

In 2009 Kamil Karimov designed the adapter board[34] to connect PS/2 keyboard to the multiplexed MSX keyboard interface. The firmware embedded into its ATTiny chip was tailored for Daewoo CPC machines.

In 2011 AGE Labs embedded a PS/2 keyboard controller unit, based on Microchip microcontroller, into its GR8BIT do-it-yourself machine. Its firmware is developed to directly convert PS/2 scan codes to the MSX keyboard scan codes. Thus it is fully transparent to the applications, allowing use of the controller unit with different MSX-compatible machines and for different localization setups.[25]


MSX standard requires at least 1 cartridge slot, most MSX models have 2. These slots[35] are interchangeable, so in most cases it makes no difference in which slot a cartridge is inserted. The physical connector is a 50 pin (2 x 25 contacts), standard 2.54 mm (0.1 inch) pitch edge connector. Using these cartridge slots, a wide variety of peripherals could be connected.

Regular game cartridges are about the size of an audio cassette (so-called "Konami size"). Despite their higher cost, this was a popular format due to its reliability and ease of use.

Around 1985, Hudson Soft released the credit card-sized Bee Card, which was meant as a cheaper and more convenient alternative to ROM cartridges. But it was a commercial failure, and very few titles were released on the format.

Source files[36] for development of the MSX cartridges are available from AGE Labs for EAGLE.

Floppy disk drives

MSX systems generally did not have a built-in disk drive, so games were published mainly on cartridge and cassette tape.[12] Sony created a battery backed RAM cartridge the HBI-55 "data cartridge" for some computers in their "Hit-Bit" line of MSX systems, that could be used to store programs or data as an alternative to cassette tapes.[37]

Floppy disk drives were available for MSX however, in the form of a cartridge containing the disk interface electronics and a BIOS extension ROM (the floppy disk drive interface), connected to an external case with the drive. In South-America, many of these systems used a 5.25 in (133 mm) floppy disk drive, but in Europe, 3.5 in (89 mm) drives were more popular. In Japan, some MSX1 systems included a built-in 3.5" disk drive, like the Panasonic (previously named Matsushita) CF-3000. In Europe, a range of Philips MSX2 systems NMS 8230, 8235, 8245, 8250 and above featured either 360 or 720 Kb 3.5" floppy drives.

In 1985, the MSX2 was released, and these systems often (but not always) included a built-in 3.5" disk drive too. Consequently the popular media for games and other software shifted to floppy disks.

The MSX-DOS disk operating system had internal software mechanisms much like CP/M (so CP/M software could be ported reasonably easily), but had a file system compatible with MS-DOS. Its user commands were also similar to early MS-DOS versions. In this way, Microsoft could promote MSX for home use while promoting MS-DOS based personal computers in office environments.[38]

The MSX 3.5" floppy disks are directly compatible with MS-DOS (although some details like file undeletion and boot sector code were different). Like MS-DOS 1, MSX disks (formatted) under MSX-DOS 1 have no support for subdirectories.[39]

In September 2012, AGE Labs extended the standard by including support for 1.44Mb 3.5” format. The 1.44Mb diskette size goes in two configurations: Standard (1 sector per cluster, 9 FAT sectors), and Compatible (4 sectors per cluster, 3 FAT sectors).[40]


  • Yamaha Y8950, commercially released as:
    • Panasonic: MSX-Audio FS-CA1 (32Kb of SampleRAM, 32KB of AudioROM)
    • Philips: Music Module NMS-1205 (32KB of SampleRAM, no MSX-Audio BIOS)
    • Toshiba: MSX FM-synthesizer Unit HX-MU900 (no sample RAM, no MSX-Audio BIOS)
  • 9 channels FM or 6 channels FM + 5 drums. YM3526 compatible.
  • ADPCM record and play, with Hardware acceleration
  • Can be upgraded to 256 KB of SampleRAM


  • Yamaha YM2413 (OPLL), also known as:
    • MSX-Music (standard name)
    • Panasonic: FM-PAC
    • Zemina: Music Box
    • Checkmark: FM-Stereo-Pak
    • DDX: FMX
    • Tecnobytes: FM Sound Stereo (contains the compatible U3567 chip)
  • 9 channels FM or 6 channels FM + 5 drums
  • 15 pre-set instruments, 1 custom
  • Built-in on most MSX2+ and as standard on MSX TurboR computers


MSX computers are emulated on many platforms today. Early MSX emulators were often based on the code of the pioneer fMSX, a portable MSX emulator by Marat Fayzullin. Many emulators removed Fayzullin's Z80 emulation code entirely in later versions to avoid legal problems, as at the time fMSX wasn't free software. Somewhat later fMSX source code became free for non-profit use; however a license was still required for commercial use. On December 31 2013, the Windows version of fMSX 3.7 was released, free for anyone to use.[41]

The official MSX emulator MSXPLAYer (in Japanese) is produced by the MSX Association, of which the inventor of the MSX standard, Kazuhiko Nishi, is the president.

As of version 0.146.u, MESS currently supports 90 percent of all MSX Versions.

Virtual Console

In February 2007, Nintendo of Japan announced that MSX games will be available for the Wii's Virtual Console emulator. It was confirmed that the games would cost 700 Wii Points and will become available from the middle of 2007. It also became available for the Wii U on December 25, 2013. Ultimately 13 games, mainly Konami titles, for the Wii plus 1 for the Wii U were released for the service in Japan only.

List of MSX-emulators

Name Current version Date System Platform License Website
blueMSX 2.8.2 14 August 2009 MSX, MSX2, MSX2+, MSX TurboR,

SpectraVideo SVI318/328, ColecoVision, Sega SG-1000

Windows GPL [1]
CocoaMSX 3.5.41 23 October 2013 MSX, MSX2, MSX2+, MSX TurboR OS X GPL [2]
fMSX 6.0 24 February 2021 MSX, MSX2, MSX2+ Multiplatform Commercieel [3]
fMSX PSP 3.5.41 17 March 2010 MSX, MSX2, MSX2+ Sony PSP Open source [4]
jsMSX 0.9.2 19 April 2013 MSX JavaScript GPL [5]
MESS 0.228 26 January 2021 Diverse computers and consoles, is now part of MAME Multiplatform GPL [6]
meisei 1.3.1 09 February 2010 MSX Windows Open source [7]
MSKISS 0.2.4 13 March 2000 MSX, MSX2, MSX2+ DOS, Windows Freeware [8]
MSX Emulator 0.10b 26 October 2006 MSX Atari ST Freeware [9]
MSX Emulator 1.8 16 August 2010 MSX, MSX2 UNIX GPL [10]
msxDS 0.93 01 January 2012 MSX, MSX2, MSX2+ Nintendo DS Freeware [11]
NLMSX 0.48 12 June 2003 MSX, MSX2, MSX2+, MSX TurboR Windows Freeware [12]
NO$MSX 1.5 01 May 2003 MSX, MSX2 Windows, DOS Shareware [13]
openMSX 16.0 25 August 2020 MSX, MSX2, MSX2+, MSX TurboR, SpectraVideo SVI318/328, ColecoVision Multiplatform GPL [14]
paraMSX 0.50b 08 October 2009 MSX, MSX2, MSX2+, MSX TurboR Windows Freeware [15]
RuMSX 0.41 02 July 2008 MSX, MSX2, MSX2+, MSX TurboR Windows Freeware [16]
WebMSX 6.0.3 02 June 2020 MSX, MSX2, MSX2+, MSX turbo R JavaScript ? [Source on Github] [17] [18]

See also

  • MSX character sets
  • List of MSX games
  • History of computing hardware
  • Moonsound
  • SymbOS
  • Zemmix
  • Canon V-20
  • file-hunter, website with many MSX games(100+) playable online. The site uses the online MSX-emulator WebMSX. This site also hosts an online Amiga emulator with various games.


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  2. ^ "ASCII Express : 新しいホームパーソナルコンピュータ仕様 MSX". ASCII (in Japanese). ASCII. 7 (8). 1983. ISSN 0287-9506.
  3. ^ Wood, Robert (1983). "Japanese seek to dominate home market". InfoWorld. 5 (49): 158. Retrieved 2019-09-16 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "MSX: The Japanese are coming! The Japanese are coming!". The Register. June 27, 2013.
  5. ^ Kazuhiko Nishi - Reference.
  6. ^ Faceoff: will MSX be a success in the United States.
  7. ^ - The First MSX.
  8. ^ Mr. Kazuhiko Nishi (21 April 2001). MSX Fair Tilburg 2001 - by Totally Chaos (video). Event occurs at 14:40. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
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  11. ^ "Kojima Productions". Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  12. ^ a b "Dvorak, John C. (2006-11-28). Whatever Happened to MSX Computers?. Dvorak Uncensored, 28 November 2006". 2006-11-28. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  13. ^ a b Sekiguchi, Waichi (2000). パソコン革命の旗手たち (in Japanese). Nihon Keizai Shimbun. pp. 186–190. ISBN 4-532-16331-5.
  14. ^ The history of Spectravideo, retrieved 2012-12-20
  15. ^ Dvorak, John C. (7–14 January 1985). "MSX: The pong of the 1980s". InfoWorld. InfoWorld Media Group (Vol. 7, Num. 1–2): 88. ISSN 0199-6649.
  16. ^ "The Toshiba MSX (HX-10) 64K".
  17. ^ "OLD-COMPUTERS.COM : The Museum".
  18. ^ MSX-FAN Magazine (1995 February issue, p. 90)
  19. ^ "Joven Club de Computación y Electrónica - EcuRed".
  20. ^ "Distance education in the Cuban context". 22 July 2012. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012.
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  22. ^
  23. ^ "Mac Daily News 5 to 6 million Apple IIs sold". Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  25. ^ a b Brychkov, Eugeny (2012). KB0004: Using GR8BIT Language Pack and PS2 Keyboard (PDF). AGE Labs.
  26. ^ MSX Resource Center. "One Chip MSX MKII". Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  27. ^ MSX Resource Center. "MSX Resource Center Foundation about MSX trademark". Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  28. ^ "Benelux trademark registration for the MSX trademark" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  29. ^[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "The birth of a GR8BIT - The do it yourself MSX 2". MSX Resource Center. 2012-01-18. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  31. ^ "GR8BIT Platform: The Real Engineering Experience". AGE Labs. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  32. ^ Center, MSX Resource. "Mini IQ3000 (Temporarily name for small project) - MSX Resource Center (페이지 1/9)".
  33. ^ "Portar MSX Tech Doc".
  34. ^ Karimov, Kamil (2010-02-14). "Контроллер PS/2 клавиатуры для MSX (Russian)". MSX Resource Center. Retrieved 2013-09-20.
  35. ^ "2 standard MSX cartridge slots". Archived from the original on 2012-04-26.
  36. ^ "MSX breadboard schematic, board and library". AGE Labs. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  37. ^ picture of HBI-55 data cartridge Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ MSX Technical Data Book
  39. ^ "MSX-DOS 2 section". The Ultimate MSX FAQ. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
  40. ^ "Storage subsystem v.3.0 Manual" (PDF). AGE Labs. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  41. ^ "fMSX: Portable MSX Emulator". 2013-12-31. Retrieved 2014-03-31.

External links

Edited: 2021-06-18 19:36:34