Funkausstellung Berlin 1985 with MSX conference: the report

By Manuel

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11-03-2018, 15:29

I'm reading Radio Amateur Magazine issue 61 (October 1985), where there's a report of the Funkausstellung in Berlin. There's a nice article titled "MSX conquers Europe" of which I wanted to share some highlights:
Introduction:
- On Sunday September 1st in Berlin there is a big MSX conference
- Kay Nishi, Bill Gates and Masao Morita (Sony) attended
- the purpose was the kick off of MSX in Germany and to give an update on the latest developments
- MSX computers are sold well in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Norway and Finland
- UK is problematic due to the strong presence of Sinclair and Commodore, but still they did sell 35000 machines
- Germany is so far also problematic, as 70% of the market is Commodore
- During the fair (Funkausstellung) there was a first presentation of the "MSX Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutschland", who included the MSX conference

Long term idea for home computers:
- Gates presented that MSX computers will be integrated in all home electronics in the future (TV, video, telecom, home equipment control). That's why in the long run the home computers will be more important than the business computers
- Gates reported that in the USA 30000 Yamaha CX5M machines were sold, mostly because of the sound capabilities
- Everyone was waiting for MSX2 (earlier the magazine reports that several MSX2 machines were shown on the fair, although there was a decision to postpone that)
- Gates reports that they were a bit reluctant to promote MSX, as they didn't want to connect their name to it if it wasn't certain it would be successful. At this point they are convinced and will start to promote it strongly.
- One thing is that they attracted a consultant for MSX in Europe, Tom Sato, who will be seated in the UK. He will provide information to software houses that want to develop MSX software
- Microsoft will join several fairs with their own booth to promote MSX

Reduction of amount of chips:
- The first MSX computers had about 35 chips, but new VLSI applications will reduce it. Four super chips have been developed: "MSX Engine", "MSX Systems", "MSX Audio" and "MSX Video".
- The Engine chip contains for example Z80, pPI, ROM slot controller, key controller, I/O selector, interrupt controller
- MSX System is also an integration of several chips, like memory logic controller, keyboard controller, printer interface, port controller and PSG
- MSX Audio is a chip with a complete sound synthesizer according to the Yamaha FM synthesizing system and can also digitize sound
- Then the new MSX Video (basically the V9938 description follows)
- Mentions of software: C compiler and basic compiler

MSX has 60% market share in Japan:
- Morita sated that Sony believes in the universal setup of MSX, especially as interactive controller of audio, video, laser discs, compact disc, TV and communication applications
- MSX was introduced 2.5 years ago in Japan and it now has 60% market share. They hope to sell the millionth MSX in Japan this year

Philips makes a statement:
- Philips names the integration of computers in the home "New Media Systems"
- It's working on integrating TV, video, telephone, audio, interactive laser discs, compact discs with data (CD-ROM) into one
- Frank Lech of Philips Eindhoven made a public statement that Philips sees MSX as the corner stone of new media and that it will strongly support MSX now and in the future

MSX as a link between home and office:
- One of the speakers was G.A. Kok, Technical Director of Aackosoft
- They support MSX because it's the system of the future and very suitable for serious applications. For the latter they introduced the IDS system which are already more common on professional business applications like Lotus 1-2-3, Jazz and Symphony. With MSX the home computer is powerful enough for this.

MSX working groups:
- Finally an MSX Working Group has been started in the Netherlands. Several other European countries already had one at this point (Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Belgium, England, Norway and Finland says the preface of the magazine. It also says that 45 companies joined the Dutch MSX Working Group)
- The purpose of the working groups is to promote MSX by sharing information and supporting the MSX system
- In some countries only the manufacturers work together, but in other countries the hard- and software companies work together. And the 3rd category is that all MSX related companies work together. The latter applies in the Netherlands.
- At the conference they agreed that the different working groups should also cooperate more, e.g. by releasing low cost MSX promotional software, software lists and other things.

MSX2 visible everywhere:
- One reason that MSX1 is not very successful in Germany, UK and USA is that it doesn't offer that much more compared to popular computers in these countries like the Commodore 64, the Schneider/Amstrad and the Atari.
- This is probably the reason that many manufacturers already showed the MSX2 which is supposed to become available next year
- There are mentions and photographs of the Sony HB-G900P with videotizer and at the Spectravideo stand there was a ASCII/Microsoft demo in which a crocodile plays piano with true cartoon quality. (Note of Manuel: Spectravideo MSX2??? The photo shows a SVI-738, perhaps they first planned to make it a full MSX2?)
- MSX Audio is mentioned as the optional standard for audio on MSX2
- Philips showed the CD-ROM for MSX
- MSX2 models were shown by Toshiba (including photo of HX-23F), SOny, Philips, Daewoo, Mitsubishi and Spectravideo, but none were already available for the market
- Expectations of everyone was that the first European PAL machines would be available end of spring 1986
- No one expected prices higher than 2000 NLG for these machines
- Nishi expected that once chip integration would take off fully and large amounts of MSX2 computers would be produced, the price of an MSX2 in the simplest configuration (without digitizer and audio synthesizer) would be at the level of current MSX1 computers

That's all folks! If you have more questions about this article, let me know and I can look things up.

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By Manuel

Ascended (14791)

Manuel's picture

11-03-2018, 23:54

Regarding MSX2: the first machines for review (Philips VG 8230 and Sony HB-F500P) were received by RAM end of November 1985 as is published in the January 1986 edition. In that pre-review they said that their Sony HB-F500P still had only 64kB VRAM, but that the final machine would have 128kB...
And again it is mentioned that the Spectra Video MSX2 is about to come up soon as well. At this point the SVI-738 was already released, so they don't mean that one!

By hamlet

Scribe (1869)

hamlet's picture

12-03-2018, 10:31

Thank you Manuel for this nice conclusion of the article! That pushed me back in the year 1985 this morning.
That time I already owned a Sony 79P and as written, I was nearly alone.

By Grauw

Enlighted (7549)

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12-03-2018, 10:41

Real, real nice to read such a report from back then.

By NYYRIKKI

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NYYRIKKI's picture

12-03-2018, 12:32

Manuel wrote:

And again it is mentioned that the Spectra Video MSX2 is about to come up soon as well. At this point the SVI-738 was already released, so they don't mean that one!

SVI-738 PCB is so close to MSX2 that it is very clear that MSX2 was in a plan. (There is updated VDP and a place for RTC, battery and all.) So why it didn't happen? Hard to say, but probably the reason is something really stupid... like license costs or something like that. Hard work was done already...

By mars2000you

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12-03-2018, 13:27

NYYRIKKI wrote:
Manuel wrote:

And again it is mentioned that the Spectra Video MSX2 is about to come up soon as well. At this point the SVI-738 was already released, so they don't mean that one!

SVI-738 PCB is so close to MSX2 that it is very clear that MSX2 was in a plan. (There is updated VDP and a place for RTC, battery and all.) So why it didn't happen? Hard to say, but probably the reason is something really stupid... like license costs or something like that. Hard work was done already...

What I don't understand is the fact that the SVI-838 is somewhat bridled: the MSX2 features are well present, but can only be used in the PC environment with the enhanced GW-BASIC while the SVI-811 is limited to MSX1 cartridges and the PC drive can't be used for MSX floppy disks (contrary to the PTC MSX PC).

The SVI-838 could have been a real double computer, fully MSX2 and fully PC. It's a shame!

Btw, it seems that no-one has yet checked if MSX-BASIC can be reached on the SVI-838 when inserting a non-executable cartridge in the SVI-811. Still curious to know the answer!

By NYYRIKKI

Enlighted (5045)

NYYRIKKI's picture

12-03-2018, 13:48

mars2000you wrote:

Btw, it seems that no-one has yet checked if MSX-BASIC can be reached on the SVI-838 when inserting a non-executable cartridge in the SVI-811. Still curious to know the answer!

I agree... I've played a bit with 838 weird version of GW-BASIC, but I've not ever seen an 838 equipped with 811. It would be really interesting to test it. Unfortunately I don't believe that even 811 ROM-dumps exist Sad

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5382)

mars2000you's picture

12-03-2018, 14:03

I have the SVI-811 ROM, I had received it from Tomas Karlsson who sent me the Swedish version, it's almost the same ROM as on the SVI-738.

Quote:

Rechercher différences

1. C:\blueMSX 2\Machines\MSX - Spectravideo SVI-738 Swedish\738sebios.rom: 32.768 octets
2. C:\blueMSX 2\Machines\MSX - Spectravideo SVI-838 Swedish\838sebios.rom: 32.768 octets (actually the SVI-811 ROM)
Offsets: hexadéc.

0: F3 3F
2: 5C 5F
15C: 3E 00
15D: 02 00
15E: D3 00
15F: 99 3E
160: 3E 02
161: 89 D3
162: D3 99
163: 99 3E
164: C3 89
165: D7 D3
166: 02 99
167: 00 3E
168: 00 65
169: 00 D3
16A: 00 B5
16B: 00 3E
16C: 00 08
16D: 00 D3
16E: 00 B6
16F: 00 C3
170: 00 D7
171: 00 02

24 différence(s) trouvé.

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