THE MSX1 COMPUTER


1.1 MSX1 Standard definition and remarks


1.2 Graphic capabilities

ModeResolutionColoursDescription
040/(80)×24 characters2Text mode
132×24 characters2Text mode
2256×192 pixels16Hi-Res mode
364×48 (4×4 pixel blocks)16Multi colour mode

1.3 Some examples of MSX1 machines

Spectravideo 318 & 328

Before SVI-728 and SVI-738 X'press, two other computers from Spectravideo were released. They can be described as beta versions of an MSX1 machine.

[SPECTRAVIDEO 318]
SPECTRAVIDEO 318
with builtin joystick

SVI-318's features:

An expander box was available for SVI-318. It allowed to plug in expansion cartridges, such as disk controllers, 80 characters video card, RS232 interface and so on. Only 5,25" (single or double ? sided) drives were available for this system. Later came SVI-318/s big brother SVI-328.

Differences between SVI-318 and 328:

For SVI-328 there was also an expander box available.

[Spectravideo 328 with 605B super expander box]
SVI 328 connected to the SVI 605B super expander box

SVI-605B Super Expander Box contains:

Some available cards were:

It was possible to get a harddisk for this system too (10MB/20MB).

An interface which could be plugged in the expansion port of SVI-328, made possible to run Coleco cartridge games on SVI-328 (SVI-603 Coleco game adapter)

Due to MSX's appearance, an MSX1 emulator was available. It emulated MSX BASIC version 1.0 and cassete tapes could be read in SVI's tape recorder. But... only games that required 32kB of RAM could run, due to the emulator code which resided in RAM.

-->More info about SVI-328 by T. Carlson

-->Go to the Spectravideo fans club Hmm, are they alive??

-->Go to the Unofficial Spectravideo Homepage by Tomas Karlsson. Here, also a link to a SVI-328 emulator for PC can be found.

SVI-738 X'press from Spectravideo

[Spectravideo 738 X'press]
One of the completest MSX1 computers

Spectravideo 738 X´press was released in 1985.

Clock IC in an MSX1 computer?

Once, when I (The Red Devil) looked inside my SVI-738 I could see on the circuit board (under the diskdrive) place for a battery and the CLOCK_IC. I do not know if I remember correctly, but I think it had also space for 128kB VRAM. It was probably meant to become an MSX2 but it never did. As far as I know on newer series of SVI-738 X'press (read: them with RGB output) the mainboard is a bit different (the Clock IC stuff is removed). There are 3 versions of the SVI-738. I don't know exactly what is the difference between version 2 and 3 (?).

MSX2 V9938 VDP in an MSX1 computer?

The SVI-738 is not the only MSX1 machine with the V9938 Video Display Processor. Yamaha CX5M/128 also has the V9938 built in. The extra capabilities of V9938 were only used (on SVI-738) to display text in 80 column mode. It was quite useful for MSX-DOS and CP/M-80 V2.20 software which required the 80 column display. Due to this capability the SVI-738 was also sold as a package containing WordStar/MailMerge/DataStar and other CP/M 2.20 programmes.

There is made little software which can take advantage of the built in V9938 VDP (in the SVI-738):

For other MSX1 computers there was an 80 column card available (also) from Spectravideo.

Due to minor difference between MSX2 and SVI-738 MSX1, Henrik Gilvad decided once to upgrade it to MSX2 and later to MSX2+. He succeded and lots of SVI-738 users from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland could get relatively cheap MSX2/2+ computers.

SVI-738 could be upgraded with/to (note that if you put enough effort to it this counts for all MSX computers...):

It could run almost all software for MSX2/2+. Few games/programs did not work properly due to the lack of the aforementioned clock-chip or other unknown reasons. E.g. some Quasar Magazines, Ease, new games from Sunrise (due to bug(?) in the copy protection routine) and the GHQ disks (the BGM replayer) and Soundtracker 2.0 replayer.

Lots of info on the 738 can be found here, on Nyrikki's X'Press corner. Certainly look there if you want to upgrade your 738!

The copy of (SVI-738) diagrams can be obtained from The Red Devil, if you fully cover the copying/mailing costs.

Pioneer Palcom PX-7

[Pioneer Palcom PX-7]
The PX-7 with sparate keyboard and a video effects pad!

This picture is taken from the [MSX BANZAI!] site.

If you have such machine for sale (reasonable price), then please contact me! Also more info about the games for MSX on Laser disks is welcome!

Pioneer's purpose of adding the Laser Vision interface to this MSX computer was obviously to create a multimedia machine which could be used for adding pictures and texts to video movies (superimposing) and mainly to contol the Laser Disc player in several ways. Some special games were available on Laser Discs for MSX, in which laser disk video is used for backgrounds of games, the MSX1 graphics superimposed on them. The "multimedia" MSX1 was already available since 1984!

Here is an exerpt of an article about the expansion cartridge for every MSX:

"Until now the laser linking of Laser Vision with MSX has only been available on Pioneer equipment but this has changed now that Pioneer have put the ER-101 interface unit into general release. The ER-101 allows any MSX computer to be used with laser discs."

"The ER-101 Expansion processor unit looks like a slim-line video recorder and it can be easily placed on top of the Laser Vision player. It expands your ordinary MSX by adding an extra video processor chip called a TMS9928/A and an extra 2kB of RAM and further 16kB of video memory. An 8kB ROM provides extra commands called P-BASIC."
"Some of the space games are really sensational. You can guide a spaceship generated by the MSX graphics through a meteor storm generated by the very high resolution pictures recorded on the laser disc."

MSX User, June 1985
MSX Link, January 1995

Pioneer ER-101 MSX Expansion Processor

[Pioneer ER-101]
The ER-101 is almost an MSX computer on itself! It sort of makes your MSX a Pioneer PX-7. It includes "Laser Vision Player Control", "Superimpose" and "P-Basic (extended MSX-Basic)", just like is built in in the PX-7. For more pics check the MSX Hardwarelist.

(Probably incomplete) list of laserdisc games for the Palcom:

Yamaha CX5M series

[Yamaha CX5M WITH KEYBOARD]
The Yamaha CX5M series consist of 3 machines (CX5M/CX5M II and CX-5M II/128, the latter being almost an MSX2, only lacking the right amount of VRAM and a clock chip). At the picture above you can see an Yamaha CX5M machine with a keyboard connected to the SFG music module.

These computers had built in (or rather plugged in) a quite good music module (4 operator FM-Synthesizer, MIDI interface and connector for optional keyboard). All original software for this music module was available as ROM cartridges. The SFG01 music module could only save/load data to/from tape and SFG-05 could use disk drive. This sound module could not be connected directly to every MSX computer. Due to Yamaha made a special connector in their Yamaha CX5M computers an adaptor was needed to plug it in normal MSX machine. The SFG never (as far I know) became an important piece of hardware in MSX-world, however it was used by musicans and there even existed special user groups in The Netherlands e.g. It was also one of the few MSX computers that were actually sold in the USA, but rather like a musical instrument than as a computer.

More info is here.
Also have a look at Eirik Lie's CX5M FAQ!

Keyboards available for SFG01/05:

CodeDescription
YK01Yamaha Music Keyboard (???, 44 keys)
YK10Yamaha Music Keyboard (Small, 49 keys)
YK20 Yamaha Music Keyboard (Big, 49 keys)

Some of the cartridges:

Code Description
YRM-101/YRM-01FM Music Composer
YRM-102/YRM-12FM Voicing Program
YRM-103DX7 Voicing Program
YRM-104/YRM-11Music Macro
YRM-105DX9 Voicing Program
YRM-301/YRM-31MIDI Recorder
YRM-302/YRM-32RX Editor
YRM-303MIDI Macro & Monitor
YRM-304/YRM-34DX7 Voicing Program II
YRM-304TX7 Voicing Program
YRM-305DX21 Voicing Program
YRM-501/YRM-55FM Music Composer II
YRM-51FM Music Macro II
YRM-502/YRM-52FM Voicing Program II
YRM-503DX7 Voicing Program II (is this correct?)
YRM-504FM Music Macro II
YRM-506FB-01 Voicing Program
YRM-34DX7 Voicing Program II
CMP-01FM Auto Arranger
CMP-02PS Editor
CMP-03FM Auto Arranger Utility
Please mail me your additions

Other examples of special MSX1 machines

Produced byCodeRAMRemark (built-in)
DaewooDPC-?64kBOpening demo
Hitachi MB-H2 64kB Tape recorder
MitsubishiMLF-X264kBSoftware
Sakhr (Yamaha)AX-17064kB5 builtin softwares
Sakhr (Yamaha)AX-23064kB1MB builtin softwares
Sakhr (Yamaha)AX-33064kBFamiclone (Clone of Famicom) board
Sakhr (Yamaha)AX-99064kBSEGA MEGADRIVE + 50 softwares
SanyoPHC-30??kBTape recorder
SanyoMPC-1032kBLight pen
SonyHB-7564kBBuilt-in software (Personal Databank: address, schedule, memo)
SonyHB-50164kBBuilt-in BitCorder (datarecorder)
SVI72864kBNum. keypad
ToshibaHX-2064kBWord processor
ToshibaHX-10DPN64kBSoftware
YamahaCX5M48kBSFG01 synth module
YamahaCX5M II64kBSFG01 synth module
YamahaCX5M II/128128kBSFG05 synth module
For more special MSX1 machines (to your own judgement) check out The MSX Hardwarelist.

1.4 Software

MSX1 software was available mostly on tapes and later on disks too (360kB - 3,5"). There are hundreds of games produced in 80'ies for MSX1. Now mostly available on disks, converted from tapes by MSX-freaks.

The software was also supplied on so called cartridges. The cartridges were very popular due to no loading time - Plug 'n play ;-). For long time ago software was also available on soft cards. A kind of credit cards with metal connectors which could be plugged in an adapter especially made for MSX machines. It was available in England, France and the Netherlands once as far I know. It was made by Electric software and quite some games from Electric were sold on these soft cards, e.g. Shark Hunter. Pictures can be found in the Hardware list section.

Hudson soft made a similar device: the BeePack. The software cards were called BeeCards. Pictures can be found in the Hardware list section.

Since the cartridges contain a ROM they could be saved to a disk. A lot of cartridge images are available on different MSX FTP sites. The [.ROM] files are mentioned to be used with MSX emulators, but they can alo be executed on real MSX computers. For more info look here.

A very special medium is the following:

[The GC-BOX]
[THE GAMES COLLECTION CD-ROM]
CD SEQUENTIAL

Made by Eurosoft. A normal CD-player is required to load the games, through the cassette recorder connector of an MSX computer, so it is not especially for MSX2, but there are some MSX2 games on it. The right photograph shows the Games Collecton CD.

Games available on this CD:

747 499b Flightsimulator Discovery Playhouse Strippoker
Astroblaster Eagle Control Quebert
Bankbuster MSX2 (*) Frog Red Dawn
Blow-Up Guttblaster SAR
Boom Haunted House Scentipede
Booty Jet Fighter Space Rescue
Breaker-Breaker Kong Starbite
Burgerkill Missile Command Starbuggy
Chessplayer MSX1 Penguin Time Rider
Chessplayer MSX2 (*) Pharaoh's Revenge Vortex Raider
Chopper One Pinball Blaster Winterhawk

The MSX2 games need 128kB RAM/128kB VRAM, and the rest runs on MSX1 with 64kB RAM.

If you want software:

Check out the links database of The MSX Resource Center (and Manuel Bilderbeek's Bookmarks) and visit the MSX-FTP sites!

Still hungry for more MSX computer images/infos?

Then click on this button [MSX BANZAI!]

Even more pictures can be found on The FUNet FTP MSX hardware-pictures directory! Most of these pictures are linked to from The MSX Hardwarelist by the way.


 1.5 Companies which produced MSX1 computers.

Sony, Panasonic, Sanyo, JVC (Victor), CE-TEC, Daewoo, Spectravideo, Toshiba, Canon, Casio, Dragon, Dyndata, Fujitsu, Goldstar Gradiente, Hitachi, Hotbit (Sharp), Pioneer, Mitsubishi, NEC, Philips, Radiola, Sakhr (Yamaha), Schneider, Talent, Telematica, Yamaha, Yashica, Aster International, General, Samsung, Hyosung, Limco, Oric, Radofin, ...

Again, for more info, check the MSX hardware list!


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