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MSX was a standardized range of Z80 based 8 bit computers developed by Microsoft and various (mostly) japanese producers to exploit... Microsoft Softwares.

MSX stands for "Machines with Software eXchangeability".

4 generations of MSX were produced, each with it's own system specs upgrades and retro compatible with past specifications.


It was a serious technical concurrent to the Amstrad CPC range, later specifications being closer to 16bit computers than other 8bit systems. Yet a lot of similarities and differences between the 2 systems.

Despite having the colour attributes logic (MSX1 mostly, the other through retro compatibility), it wasn't as bad as on the Speccy.

  • the MSX1 attributes are 8×1 pixels instead of 8×8 pixels (Speccy).
  • the machine includes proper 1bpp Hardware Sprites, which enable to have no attribute clashes compared to software sprites.
  • The machine has a proper VRAM, sort of proper graphical card as comparable to IBM PC.

As a Z80 based computer, many European Software developers did those awful scrappy Speccy Ports, which Japanese couldn't understand ("why do they have such sloppy graphics ?")

Later MSX standards (MSX2, MSX2+ and turboR) included a large panel of extra video modes without the colours clashes.

The MSX 2 introduced hardware vertical scrolling but it wasn't until the MSX2+ that the MSX could do proper hardware horizontal scrolling; the video card makes software scrolling very difficult, so only as of the MSX2+ and later is smooth scrolling available.

The MSX was perhaps to Japan what the CPC was to France (keeping to the proportions of course). Or what the ZX Speccy was to England or eastern Europe (Speccy clones mostly...)

A "serious" computer mostly used as home computer for gaming purpose by kids.

CPC connections

  • Some games did probably benefit from some sort of cross-dev or ports, having some common assets (music, graphics ?).

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