What if PC ..... never existed?

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By zPasi

Champion (473)

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31-10-2019, 15:48

gdx wrote:

MSX's VDPs can not support the resolutions beyond those of TVs. Only the V9990 started to do it.

MSX2 supported 512×424 pixel resolution.

By Parn

Champion (424)

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31-10-2019, 18:00

I think MSX1 relied on 70s tech to get out of the gate more quickly, and it had to be done relatively cheaply if they had any hope to remain on the market at that moment. V9938 and V9958 are more or less logical evolutions of the TMS9918 if they wanted to focus on personal computing instead of gaming, which would be essential if they wanted the MSX to survive competition with cheaper and more powerful video game consoles. Indeed, the MSX video chips are more powerful than many of their contemporaries in home computers.

Plus, the way system extensions were designed look to me they were already thinking of the platform's future very early. It was effectively plug and play a decade before that technology started appearing on PCs. Of course this worked much better when the standard was rigorously followed (which unfortunately not always happened), but it was visionary nonetheless, IMHO.

But due to the MSX's many similarities to the PC, if there was no PC I think the MSX would be a very different beast from it, perhaps inspired in whatever other platform dominated the business landscape at the time. Maybe it would be some kind of CP/M machine with advanced graphics, perhaps using one of the Motorola video generators.

By AxelStone

Prophet (2701)

AxelStone's picture

11-11-2019, 21:06

I don't think that MSX walked in the right direction. By the end of 80's MSX was so expensive compared to 16bit solutions like Atari ST. For me it makes no sense that a 16bit machine was even cheaper than 8 bit machines (models like NMS 8250, HBF700S or even NMS8245 could cost more than Atari ST).

MSX didn't evolved enought to be a real alternative even without PC in the market.

By gdx

Prophet (3083)

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12-11-2019, 13:53

Parn wrote:

MSX2 supported 512×424 pixel resolution.

I never use interlaced modes. It's too distasteful to watch.

By Randam Hajile

Expert (66)

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12-11-2019, 20:46

This is an interesting conversation. Back in the late eighties / early nineties I was still hoping MSX would somehow make a comback. At that time the capabilities to create and play games and multimedia was still impressive compared to much more expensive PC's. Of course other home computers were also offering that.

In general it still surprises me that the tipping point happened when it did. Not only MSX(2) but also Amiga and Atari were pretty impressive machines. A PC with monochrome screen was more expensive and as a kid it was not enjoyable playing CGA or Hercules video mode games with PC speaker sound when I was also owning an MSX2 with a Music Module.

By Parn

Champion (424)

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12-11-2019, 21:39

AxelStone wrote:

I don't think that MSX walked in the right direction. By the end of 80's MSX was so expensive compared to 16bit solutions like Atari ST. For me it makes no sense that a 16bit machine was even cheaper than 8 bit machines (models like NMS 8250, HBF700S or even NMS8245 could cost more than Atari ST).

Well, Atari ST was conceived as an as-cheap-as-possible machine. It doesn't have superior graphics or sound compared to MSX, but since it's 16-bit it really has more computing performance. And I like that it came with MIDI.

gdx wrote:
Parn wrote:

MSX2 supported 512×424 pixel resolution.

I never use interlaced modes. It's too distasteful to watch.

Hey, I didn't say that! It was @zPasi Tongue

But he was right in that you mentioned V9990, and the higher resolutions supported by the MSX cartridges that used the V9990 were interlaced (and "distasteful") as well. Wink

By AxelStone

Prophet (2701)

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12-11-2019, 23:44

Parn wrote:

Well, Atari ST was conceived as an as-cheap-as-possible machine. It doesn't have superior graphics or sound compared to MSX, but since it's 16-bit it really has more computing performance. And I like that it came with MIDI.

Yes but I paid more money for my VG8235 with single side FDD than what Atari ST cost. Now I realize that I did a very bad deal, Atari ST is a 16bit machine with 512Kb RAM, double side FDD, MIDI capabilities...far superior to VG8235.

The computer power is very important, in fact is the basic pilar from a computer, and a Z80 based machine was clearly deprecated. However, it was more expensive than even 16 bit machines !! Question

I can't understand why MSX family didn't jump to processors like Z180, fully compatible and far superior to Z80.

By T.R.

Rookie (24)

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12-11-2019, 23:52

An interesting alternative reality: Imagine if the MSX standard had been based on the 8088 instead of the Z80. Like the actual MSX, it would have been intended as a cheap home-computer version of the PC. However, it would have been more similar to the PC than the MSX actually was. It would probably have been compatible with a subset of the PC standard, and at the same time it would have extended the PC's graphics and sound capabilities for the gaming market.

There was actually a computer like that, produced by IBM itself in 1984, called "PC Jr". While the PC Jr failed commercially, perhaps the idea would have flourished if it had been developed as an MSX-like standard.

In this alternative reality, perhaps MSX would have undercut the cheap PC clone market that developed later. IBM would have realised that MSX had won somewhere around 1990, and instead of doing the PS/2 line, they would have dropped the original PC in favour of MSX.

And today we would be marvelling at the fact that, thanks to Microsoft's focus on backwards compatibility, we would still be able to play Penguin Adventure on our MSX tablets and smartphones.

By gdx

Prophet (3083)

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13-11-2019, 01:23

Sorry, Parn. I had a problem with Copy/Paste.

AxelStone wrote:

I can't understand why MSX family didn't jump to processors like Z180, fully compatible and far superior to Z80.

I think they have not managed to find a simple, compatible and cheap way to separate the frequency of the BUS and the CPU. They did that with the R800 without it being the ideal.

By bigral

Supporter (7)

bigral's picture

13-11-2019, 18:19

Actually x86 pc - misleading term. The 8086 286 and 386... three different worlds. There is no point to have 286, if you don't use 16bit protected mode, also there is no point to have 386 if you don't use 32bit protected mode. All three types of machines have own software model, so you may think of them as about three different computer architectures. Yes 286 and 386 may be used as fast performers of 8086, but it's not make them 8086 family cpus (8088 8086 80186). VAX machines also had pdp11 cpu cards and were able to run RT11 and RSX, but vax is not pdp11. Same here, 386 is not 8086. So, if 8086 had fail Intel would develop iAPX432 or i960 and won the market anyway (just because they knew how to make cpus and their fabs are best). Motorola, NatSemi, MIPS, SPARC, ARM .... all of them fail because they don't have such a good fabs as Intel.

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