MSX (1983 – 1993)

MSX was a home computer architecture, first announced by Microsoft in 1983 and popular in Japan, Brazil, the Middle East, the Soviet Union and some European Countries. 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 and any MSX expansion or game cartridge would work in any MSX computer.

Before the appearance of Nintendo’s Family Computer, MSX was the platform for which major Japanese game studios produced video game titles.

MSX spawned four generations: MSX, MSX2 (1986), MSX2+ (1988) and the and MSX TurboR (1990). The first three were 8-bit computers based on the Z80 microprocessor, while the MSX TurboR was based on an enhanced Zilog Z800 known as the R800. The MSX TurboR was unsuccessful due to a lack of support and the rise in popularity of the IBM PC Compatible market. Production of the TurboR ended in 1993 when Panasonic decided to focus on release of 3DO.

The MSX standard requires at least one cartridge slot, and most MSX models have 2. These slots 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) pitch edge connector and ROM cartridges are about the size of a compact cassette. Despite their higher cost, this was a popular format due to its reliability and ease of use.

For a short time, there was also a ROM card format available called the Bee Card that used an adaptor plugged into the cartridge slot.

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