"MSX BASIC is an extended version of Microsoft Standard BASIC Version 4.5, and includes support for graphic, music, and various peripherials attached to MSX Personal Computers. Generally, MSX-BASIC is designed to follow GW-BASIC, which is one of the standard BASICs running on 16-bit computers. During the creation of MSX-BASIC, a major effort was made to make the system as flexible and expandable as possible." (1985)
Some MSX1 computers were sold together with a disk-drive interface and a 360kB (single sided) floppy drive, mostly 3,5" but also 5,25" (mostly used in Brazil, but in the beginning also in the Netherlands) and so called Quick-disk drive with 2,8" disks. The latter is also used on other homecomputers, like the Sharp MZ-700. It's not capable of Random access, but it's a kind of tape-stream on a disk (in a spiral). A 3" (Amstrad) drive was probably also available but never was widely used by MSX users. Since Sony's intoduction of the 3,5" floppy drive, micro floppy disks became more or less the standard on MSX machines, especially in Europe and Japan.
|0||40/(80)×24 characters||2||Text mode|
|1||32×24 characters||2||Text mode|
|2||256×192 pixels||16||Hi-Res mode|
|3||64×48 (4×4 pixel blocks)||16||Multi colour mode|
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.
with builtin joystick
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:
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
One of the completest MSX1 computers
Spectravideo 738 X´press was released in 1985.
_COMHELP: Command overview
_COMINI: Initialise the RS232 to BAUD rate etc.
LOAD"COM0:": Load BASIC program from RS232
SAVE"COM0:": Save BASIC program to RS232
OPEN"COM0:": Open a channel to RS232
_COMTERM: Simple terminal program, typed text will be sent and received written on the screen
_COMSTOP: ? (Henrik Gilvad says that this command contains a bug)
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
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
|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
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:
|YK01||Yamaha Music Keyboard (???, 44 keys)|
|YK10||Yamaha Music Keyboard (Small, 49 keys)|
|YK20||Yamaha Music Keyboard (Big, 49 keys)|
Some of the cartridges:
|YRM-101/YRM-01||FM Music Composer|
|YRM-102/YRM-12||FM Voicing Program|
|YRM-103||DX7 Voicing Program|
|YRM-105||DX9 Voicing Program|
|YRM-303||MIDI Macro & Monitor|
|YRM-304/YRM-34||DX7 Voicing Program II|
|YRM-304||TX7 Voicing Program|
|YRM-305||DX21 Voicing Program|
|YRM-306||DX7II Voicing Program|
|YRM-501/YRM-55||FM Music Composer II|
|YRM-51||FM Music Macro II|
|YRM-502/YRM-52||FM Voicing Program II|
|YRM-504||FM Music Macro II|
|YRM-506||FB-01 Voicing Program|
|CMP-01||FM Auto Arranger|
|CMP-03||FM Auto Arranger Utility|
|Produced by||Code||RAM||Remark (built-in)|
|Sakhr (Yamaha)||AX-170||64kB||5 builtin softwares|
|Sakhr (Yamaha)||AX-230||64kB||1MB builtin softwares|
|Sakhr (Yamaha)||AX-330||64kB||Famiclone (Clone of Famicom) board|
|Sakhr (Yamaha)||AX-990||64kB||SEGA MEGADRIVE + 50 softwares|
|Sony||HB-75||64kB||Built-in software (Personal Databank: address, schedule, memo)|
|Sony||HB-501||64kB||Built-in BitCorder (datarecorder)|
|Yamaha||CX5M||48kB||SFG01 synth module|
|Yamaha||CX5M II||64kB||SFG01 synth module|
|Yamaha||CX5M II/128||128kB||SFG05 synth module|
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:
Games available on this CD:
|747 499b Flightsimulator||Discovery||Playhouse Strippoker|
|Bankbuster MSX2 (*)||Frog||Red Dawn|
|Booty||Jet Fighter||Space Rescue|
|Chessplayer MSX1||Penguin||Time Rider|
|Chessplayer MSX2 (*)||Pharaoh's Revenge||Vortex Raider|
|Chopper One||Pinball Blaster||Winterhawk|
If you want software:
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.
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!