MSX was developed by ASCII in 1982. The MSX was not a specific piece of hard- or software. ASCII made a blueprint with defined specifications and frameworks, which hardware and software developers could use to develop their own versions of the MSX. This made MSX an industry standard that was supposed to end the jumble of different operating systems at the time. Major computer manufacturers such as Philips, Sanyo, Panasonic and Sony conformed to the standard. Typical gaming brands such as Atari and Commodore however chosed their own path.
The principle was that MSX software could run on any computer that had the MSX logo on it. This revolutionary idea at the time caught on, partly because of Microsoft, which wrote the BIOS, BASIC and operating system for the machines. Major brands such as Philips and Sony released several MSX home computers. In America and England it was not a success; partly because of this, the production of MSX computers came to an end in 1992. Ultimately, more than five million were sold worldwide.
The MSX computers were predominantly popular in Asain contries as Japan and South Korea, bus also latin america (Argentina, and Brazil) and in continental Europe (Netherlands and Spain). In communist contries like Cuba and the Soviet Union, sponsored by the state who loved the idea the the MSX was not an American computer, classrooms full of networked Yamaha MSX computers were used for teaching informatics in schools.
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 worldwide by 1985, and continued being sold for another decade. The Apple II sold 6 million units, 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. A Sony MSX2 machine was launched into space to the Russian Mir space station.
Philips NMS 8280 MSX2
In 1985 the successor of the MSX was introduced by the name of MSX2. Philips was an early adopter of the standard and launched several versions of the MSX2, including the NMS 8250 and 8255. In 1987 the company introduced its flagship model; the NMS 8280. The appearance of the machine resembles the NMS 8250 and NMS 8255, but there are major differences internally.
The machine was intended to be a video editing system. To make this possible, the 8280 had, in contrast to its predecessors, a video digitizer and super impose functionality. A color data bus, a control register and an independent CPU clock had been added for these functions. The computer had in-front-sliders to control the video, audio mix and digitise levels and an extra button to select the input source. The beating heart of the 8280 was formed by the Yamaha S3527 chipset. Somewhat misleading is that the Philips advertised that the 8280 had 256kB of RAM when in reality it only had 128kB of RAM. This was the result of Philips adding the RAM to the 128 kb VRAM.
The 8280 used floppy disks for startup programs. Most examples of the 8280 had 2 floppy drives, but the first batch was provided with only 1 drive. The floppy’s were limited to only 750kb each.
|MSX2 NMS 8280
|Philips Videopac G7401
|128kb + 128kb Vram
|GB output (SCART)
RF output (UHF)
Analog sound & Composite video
2 audio in connectors
2 audio out connectors
Video in connector
Video out connector with luminance switch
Data Recorder connector
Centronics compatible Parallel port for a printer
2 general connectors (Joysticks, Mice, Paddle controllers, etc)
2 cartridge slots (on the right side)