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When the humans were young and the dragons were already old, Microsoft created an 8 bit computer system. Called the MSX, it plugged on your TV and used it as a monitor.

The MSX had a 256x192x16 colors maximum resolution and a 40x25 text mode, just so you'll have an idea of its proportions. Peripherals included tape drive, 5 1/4 disk drive, dot matrix printer and such other wonderfully old things. The free memory was usually the range of 25k, although programs could use up to 64k. Being a Microsoft product, it came with a built-in Basic.

Using the Z80 chip as the main, with an additional chip for sound, the MSX was a wonderful system for games, equaling the Nintendo and Master System in that field. However, as all computer systems went or eventually will go, it eventually faded into obsolescence.

MSX was a very MS-DOS-like operating system. It was designed by Microsoft at the request of a number of Japanese and Korean electronics giants who wanted a single software standard. They had seen the VHS/Beta wars and did not want an expensive battle in the realm of Operating Systems. The point man for the project was Kazuhiko Nishi. He was on the original IBM PC design team (he also designed the innovative TRS-80 Model 100) and saw that a home computer would likely be popular in Japan. Hence a standard was needed, and unlike IBM's DOS, this standard had to support color and sound since it would be a home computer used mostly for entertainment.

There's some debate as to what MSX actually stood for. Microsoft claimed for a long time it stood for MicroSoft eXtended, a reference to the extended MS BASIC contained on ROM. On the Japanese side of the pond, Japanese hardware manufacturers were told that MSX stood for "Matsushita Sony X-machine" or "Matsushita, Sony, and X" where X is the name of your company.

Another theory entirely, put forward by Kazuhiko Nishi, that it stood for Machines with Software eXchangeability. And that originally they wanted to call it NSX (Nishi, Sony, X) but Honda had already trademarked NSX.

Whatever MSX stood for, it's curious Microsoft stopped claiming MS stood for Microsoft when the standard utterly failed introduction into the North American market.

The main Asian adopters of the MSX standard were Sony, Yamaha, Panasonic, Toshiba, and Daewoo. In Europe Philips released a line of MSX computers and for a time MSX computers were not unknown in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe (not to mention the Soviet Union).

Nishi himself pushed for an early form of networking capability to be included in MSX. He was speaking with his grandmother, trying to sell her on the idea of a home computer. He felt if he could make his grandmother see the need for a home computer, he could then sell the computer to anyone. Every way he tried to sell the computer to his grandmother, his grandmother would answer back that either the TV or the phone served her needs. What was it about the TV/phone, he wondered. Ah, they were networked! He began realizing a computer without a network was like a car without a road system. Without a network of roads, all you have is an expensive karaoke machine in your driveway.

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