MSX history

by MSX Resource Center on 21-04-2001, 00:00

What does MSX stand for?

Nishi says that he is well aware of the fact that MSX is interpreted differently by many people. Some say it is MicroSoft eXtended, but others say it is Matsushita, Sony and (X)others. But Nishi tells the audience it really stands for Machines(hardware) with Software eXchangeability. Sony and Matsushita took notice of Nishi's MSX designs at the time and contacted eachother to try this new system of Nishi (who was 26 at the time).

The MSX 2

Along the project the question raise how to optimize graphics and audio for the MSX system. The answer lie in a advanced graphics instruction set according to Nishi. So again Yamaha got convinced by Nishi to create a FM synthesizer subset for MSX, which is today called MSX Audio. But they discover that just a new sound system was not enough to create the MSX 2. They wanted to implement digital video and audio, in other words: motion picture. In 1983 CD was announced by Philips and Sony. In a later stadium the plans for digital audio and video evolved in the standards mpeg1 and mp3. Now Nishi points out he does realize a lot of people will probably think he is saying he created mpeg, but he did not actually. But, he says, our plans for digital video and audio on MSX helped creating mpeg, although it never got implemented for MSX.

Nishi's goal to realize the single-chip MSX were still on, and he contacted Toshiba to create the chip. They accepted and made a chip which only integrated sound, but not video. Nishi got very angry about that and got a fight with Toshiba. (Now Nishi jokes around again, cursing Toshiba and putting up an act in which he plays an angry Nishi cursing at Toshiba) But Toshiba got angry with Nishi too, and stopped the production of the chip. Nishi now knows he was mistaken at the time, because the chip should never have been given up.

Nishi now opens a door and makes fun of the heat in the room, and warns us not to fall asleep in the moisy heat.

The popularity contest (that wasn't one)

Nishi and his team were very disappointed because the MSX never got as popular as television or telephone. But, he says, when you've got success you always want more. So, soon Philips and Sony started complaining why MSX wasn't as popular as television. Nishi seeked for the reason and started thinking it was the price of the MSX. He asked his grandmother if she wanted to use one of the computers he designed. She replied with the question: "What can I do with it?". Nishi replied: "You can write letters". His grandmother said she already had pen and paper. "What about stock prices then?", Nishi asked. "I have a calculator", he grandmother replied. "So, how about playing games?" His grandmother said she had television. Finally Nishi tried to convince her by telling she could send email with the MSX, but his grandmother replied she had a telephone for communicating.
Nishi felt he could never compete with all that, and started asking himself what he could do to get it into people's homes. "So", Nishi asked himself, "what have television and telephone in common?" A NETWORK! (this was in 1986) "What is a car without a highway?", Nishi askes the audience. "A very expensive karaoke machine!", he says. Nishi thinks networking possibilities for MSX could be the way to get MSX in every home. But it never worked out. Nishi says, many succesful computer engineers never became succsesful in internet.

Integrating MSX with communication media (which ended up with a story on Nishi's career and Windows Wink

In 1990 the debate about launching the MSX 3 was also about integrating CD-ROM into MSX, so the system would be like the SEGA. (games and apps on cd-rom). But they decided not to because a better solution would come up soon (which was DVD).

Now Nishi jumps to a totally different topic, being Tilburg 1996.

"5 years ago I heard about Tilburg", Nishi says. It's a shame today's fair is not a big as it was back then. Nishi says he has a lot of friends who tell him he would never be in the computer business if it wasn't for MSX. Nishi jumps to another topic again. "Today's computers boot in 2 and a half minutes!" If Windows was used for a car- navigation system, we would all crash, because it is 2 and a half minutes slow! "Maybe we still need MSX?", Nishi says.