Newbie: How to start with MSX2 computer (Philips VG 8235)?

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By Creep

Supporter (6)

Creep's picture

19-01-2010, 12:19

First of all: Hello to the forum!

Some years ago, I bought a Philips VG 8235 at Ebay. Very good condition but no manuals or software included. I connected it to the TV where it worked. But, since I was fully busy with ATARI and Commodore, I did not touch it for a long time...

Next weekend, I will go to a "retro party" for many different home computers and plan to take the MSX2 computer and hope to find some contacts and start exploring this "new" system. But first, I would like to get some minimal knowledge on how to activate the computer, what minimal software equipment I should have and how to get familiar with the system.

I tried to find an operation manual for the 8235 but did not succeed. So I downloaded a MSX2 reference for a Sony computer and hope this will not differ too much. I also found some information about MSX DOS and MSX DOS2 and how to connect the computer etc.

But, would you please give me some clues what I can do now, only having the computer?

- Can I download free software from the internet that runs on the hardware? Do I need/Can I get MSX DOS?
- Can I write software on 3 1/2 disks on a Windows/DOS system that the MSX2 can read the disks (I still have DD disks)?
- What software should I get first to have some results that encourage me to continue with the system?
- Any suggestions for a guy who already has a lot of experience with other systems but is completely new to MSX/MSX2?

If there is already some kind of "Beginner's thread" or some tutorial, please excuse me for opening an new one. Any link is welcome!

Thanks for your support!

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By FiXato

Scribe (1642)

FiXato's picture

19-01-2010, 13:10

First of all, welcome to the world of MSX Smile
Secondly, you might find some useful information at the MSX F.A.Q..
Also, I'm quite interested in which retro party you'll be attending. :)

Regarding free software, you might find some interesting demos at the MSX Archive's Demo section, or check out the Downloads Section here at MRC.
MSX DOS is only needed for some applications.

As for DD disks, as far as I know you can only write to them if they have been formatted on an MSX.
Insert a floppy in your MSX and type:
_FORMAT
It should guide you from there :)

What would you like to use the MSX for? Playing games? Watching demos? Drawing art? Making music? Creating games/applications?

have fun :)
:RNFF:

By Skyblasc

Resident (61)

Skyblasc's picture

19-01-2010, 13:11

Welcome to the MSX world Creep


I tried to find an operation manual for the 8235 but did not succeed. So I downloaded a MSX2 reference for a Sony computer and hope this will not differ too much.

MSX is a STANDARD so regardless the manufacturer all msx systems works the same and use the same commands ( little differences could arise for specific models with specific functions or add ons)

That meens that everything from the Sony manual related to BASIC language commands to use the MSX will work on your Phillips one ( read, save to disk, format, load from tape, screen modes, BASIC programming, etc...)

Anyway, if you want manuals for Phillips MSX you can try if your model is here:
http://msx.retro8bits.com/msxmanuals.html


- Can I download free software from the internet that runs on the hardware? Do I need/Can I get MSX DOS?

Yes you can download software in ROM or DSK or single files and run them on your MSX2 copying them to a DD. In case of sotware as ROM images, you need in the same disk rom loaders for MSX as LoadROM. DSK images from internet is better to convert them first to real disk in your PC. Some expansions as Padial SD/MMC card adapter have disk emulation so you can use dsk directly.

Some software needs MSX-DOS and some other don't. MSX-DOS can also be downloaded becouse is software based ( software that needs MSX-DOS sometimes have it included in their disk). But to use MSX-DOS2 you also need the hardware part ( a cartridge as well as the software part on disk). You can use original MSX-DOS cartridge if you find it, or some nowadays expansion carts as IDE interfaces from Sunrise have it included inside its ROM.


- Can I write software on 3 1/2 disks on a Windows/DOS system that the MSX2 can read the disks (I still have DD disks)?

Yes you can ( again) but with some precaution. Any system that can use FAT12 couls read/write MSX disk. So you can download from Internet software, write on disk with your PC ( and some nice util like DSKManager), and rerad it from a MSX.


- What software should I get first to have some results that encourage me to continue with the system?
- Any suggestions for a guy who already has a lot of experience with other systems but is completely new to MSX/MSX2?

Quote:
If there is already some kind of "Beginner's thread" or some tutorial, please excuse me for opening an new one. Any link is welcome!

I would recommend you the Ultimate MSX FAQ here:
http://www.faq.msxnet.org/

And a final remark. VG8235 is MSX2 with 128Kb RAM/VRAM and that is good for nearly all the sotware and nowaday games. But IF your disk drive is original one, then is SingleSide. That means just 360Kb and not 720Kb ( as a normal DD disc). And that could be troublesome. I would recommend upgrading your MSX-DISK BIOS to support 720Kb and change the diskdrive for a PC one. If not, the other way to move info from your PC to your MSX easily would be with a SD/MMC reader expander cartridge.

Enjoy your new machine
:)

By Creep

Supporter (6)

Creep's picture

19-01-2010, 13:32

Many thanks for the very prompt reaction!

I guess, your information is already a good basis to start some first experiments this evening! I already visited the MSX FAQ and the manual site was the one where I found the Sony manual. So at least, I was already looking at the right spots :-)

I will surely be back here when I have the first results and more questions. Don't worry, I usually don't ask for information that I can easily find myself. But as a complete newbie I find it helpful to have some direct comments from more experienced people.

The retro-party I will visit is the "HomeCon" near Frankfurt/Germany. Here is the complete video of our last meeting in November:

http://www.homecon.net/index.php/blog/169-zeitraffervideo-der-homecon-iv-vom-141109

It's much fun, because you can find many different systems and are not limited to your favorite system only. Last time, I brought the ATARI 8 bit, a Coleco and an old Philips G7000. Now, the MSX2 might be one of the not so common systems to present there.

Thanks!

By FiXato

Scribe (1642)

FiXato's picture

19-01-2010, 13:54

Since you are interested in many old systems, you might also want to keep an eye out on Outline 2010, which will be held from the 29th April till the 2nd of May 2010 in Eersel, Netherlands. It's a demoparty where all kinds of 8 bitters are welcome :)
You can view some pictures at my Outline 2009 Facebook album or at Rich Spowart's Outline2009 album.

By Creep

Supporter (6)

Creep's picture

19-01-2010, 14:12

That might be worth the short trip! Let's see...

One question: Is there a good PC tool for windows to write the 360k images back to real disk? The last I used was some DOS copy tool far back in the 90's. I doubt, if this still works. In any case, I guess a Linux "dd" will do?

Looking at the download section, a 720k drive is really needed for most of the demos. Let's see if I manage to find some more "old" software that will run with the original hardware.

By MäSäXi

Paragon (1884)

MäSäXi's picture

19-01-2010, 14:16

Hello Creep! Smile

MSX is a STANDARD so regardless the manufacturer all msx systems works the same and use the same commands ( little differences could arise for specific models with specific functions or add ons)

Yeah, little differences like the games written on MSX brand "A" won´t run at all on MSX brand "B".... Tongue but that´s a "minor" problem... Tongue

This is problem especially on first generation MSX´s cassette games. And some MSX(1) games will not run on MSX2.

To make sure you will understand what I said, first generation MSX was published in 1983, it is called just MSX, thought many people call it as MSX-1 to make sure people understand they mean first generation MSX. Second generation MSX was called MSX2 and it was published in 1985.

You may get problematic MSX(1) games running on MSX2 by typing certain poke before loading:

POKE -1,(15-PEEK(-1)\16)*17

You can find more help for this from MSX-FAQ mentioned earlier. Smile See "Miscellanous MSX FAQ". Wink

By Repair-Bas

Paragon (1089)

Repair-Bas's picture

19-01-2010, 17:39

poke-1,170 is enough for the 8235.

By Latok

msx guru (3793)

Latok's picture

19-01-2010, 19:28

Creep, I hope you have a 8235/20 version and no 8235/00. Lots of cracked MEGAROMS don't run on the latter.......

By FiXato

Scribe (1642)

FiXato's picture

19-01-2010, 19:36

poke-1,170 is enough for the 8235.

Sure, it might be enough; but wouldn't it be better to teach people, especially new people, the universal poke instead of the brand-dependant ones?

By Tanni

Hero (556)

Tanni's picture

19-01-2010, 20:04

Hello Creep.

I'm form Germany, and I live in the region. I'm in Frankfurt almost every day. Where do you come from? I never heard form the HomeCom event before, even if it is near Hanau, a place which I visit quite often. Unfortunately, we have no pm here. If you want to contact me, provide your mail address or your telephon number.

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