1992 interview with Kay Nishi
This page was last modified 17:18, 30 May 2009 by Manuel.

Contents

Introduction

This article was in the MSX-Magazine summer edition 1992 ("of course" in Japanese language, but now it's in English). Originally this file was on Toni Siira's page, but we took it over to lay-out it for this FAQ. It was also posted via the MSX Mailinglist on 27th January 1996.

You can read more about Nishi on his own web site.

Now follows the interview.

MSX is "the excellent 8-bit"

Interviewer: It has passed 10 years soon since President Nishi had proposed MSX as 'a home computer'.

Nishi: It was '83 so...... 10 years nearly passed.

I: Number of young users, who don't know the time around the birth of MSX, is increased. So, tell a little about the time.

N: To tell 10 years ago, I think it was the opening year of 16-bit computer, because the 16-bit IBM-PC appeared in 1981. There were variety of 8-bit computers until then, OS called the CP/M and BASIC also had become a standard. What we aimed to at that time, was not a new 16-bit personal computer, but "a final, ultimate 8-bit machine". If MSX was developed as a 16-bit personal computer, a standard of MSX couldn't be organized, I think.

I: The reason for stucking in the 8-bit was the cost down?

N: Of course, it's one of the reasons. Present computers like Macintosh and and PC-9801 costs 200,000 or 300,000 yen. Considered from the side of cost performance, I think MSX is outstanding very much.

I: What thing do you remember the best for 10 years?

N: There are some terning points. First point was then when we started with MSX. Next point was when we made the video chip (V9938) for MSX2. Third one was when we decided to develope the MSX-DOS. Fourth one was the developed RISC-based CPU R800. All of them, was the challenge starting from zero. I impress that everyone overcame the challenge very much. Present Japanese computers are foreigners at the CPU and OS, only MSX and TRON are Japanese computers now.

More price down MSX!

I: President Nishi said when MSX2+ was released that we aimed to make the coloured Macintosh which cost under 100,000 yen and could come into home use.

N: Yes. MSX is now priced about 100,000 yen, which includes the visual shell MSX-View and one floppy disk drive. It's nearer our aim that the coloured Macintosh cost 100,000 yen less.

I: I suppose, the secret of that Macintosh is popular is the fine use of the visual shell for example.

N: I think so. In addition to the charm of the visual shell, another reason of the favour of Macintosh is the support of a laser printer. And it's like "a multi media". MSX is very good because of the support of video and TV, but it's started from 8-bit, so it's maybe regarded as unreasonable. In the part of image, it's maybe valued less than its real performance.

I: Exactly, the recent release of a new goods has been lonesome compared to the immediatly after MSX2 was released.

N: The age of MSX has been living begins changing, from now I feel the age will be groping age. However, at present, whether there is the same functionable machine as MSX, the answer is none. Such ones are specialized for the game or the word processor. I suppose that the market of MSX is not lost. SONY Beta MAX is for example. MSX isn't lost like it. ASCII performs the obligation as a format proposer.

I: Give us any concrete example?

N: For example, more, more price down of MSX. It's not impossible to pack present MSX into one chip VLSI. How about it priced the half of present price and has a FDD and a visual shell?

I: (Smilingly) I must be bought.

N: (Smilingly) I do, too. We must continue making efforts like it.

Now, waiting for the technique

I: As President Nishi's last talk, ASCII made inroads into the semiconductor business led by MSX, and last year, a LSI named V9990 was started selling in the market. What characteristics does it contain?

N: V9990 is, quite a new VDP (video display processor). In short, it has the design idea such as putting computer inside of the TV. Of course, it has so high specifications that it can perform very well if CD-ROM connected with V9990, for example. But I decided not to dare to make such MSX as using CD-ROM.

I: Why did you?

N: The memory time of CD-ROM is 1.5Mbit/sec, there are only 74 min. I think that it's not enough. Not only CD-ROM but also that, when starting a new thing, I think I have to continue it for 10 years, not to think things by halves, I think to try to the real believable thing for 10 years. CD-ROM connected with a home computer needs 6Mbit/sec instead of 1.5 Mbit/sec and 150 min play time. I think to wait for such light disks because they haven't been practical.

I: You say it's a set up time now?

N: So. Everyone is waiting for new technology.

I: The advance of hardware since 10 years such as more integrating of ROM and RAM and the very high speed of CPU, it's actual that we couldn't believe a few years ago. Then, 5 years later, in 1997 no wonder such specifications are demanded.

N: I declare. Maybe it needs time more less. It will be actual after 3 years, maybe even earlier.

There are three ways we can go

I: 3 years later... It will be a cloud of words if getting only specifications, please tell us more concrete.

N: To tell the detail, one CD-I disk which can be recorded the movie sized 2 hours and 30 minutes, and the picture of the recorded movie is quite fine, I suppose. Because if the disk has the same picture as the video cassette, everyone watches the video. The disk has the high quality picture, as same as the High Vision. It's useless if it isn't so. And it will be called "the digital video disk", not "the home computer".

I: So, the computer spread into the home in future doesn't name "computer" expressly.

N: The name will be different every machine. The problem is, whether we call it computer.

I: That its, it will be separated in two way in future, the business computer and the home computer?

N: No, the way the computer goes to will exist three. Home, company and person. As the computer of personal use, there are the word processor, the table calculator and the electronical notebook. The computer used in home is thought such as the digital video disk I said before and the digital TV telephone. As in company, it'll be thought there are the work station, the FAX and the laser printer.

I: I see. Now, as the home computer, you've mentioned the digital TV telephone.

N: It's "one computer in home" that we have thought on our way of MSX. If constructing based on that imagine, the digital TV telephone is hopeful as well as the digital video disk, I'm aware of. Then, I think to develope the digital TV telephone for the ISDN.

I: ISDN seems not to be spread on rapidly, than the early thought.

N: Yeah, exactly. It's caused that the purpose is ambiguous. I suppose the ISDN is for the TV telephone. If the purpose was clear, it must be spread like an explosion.

I: The TV telephone, which is the stop motion picture and uses the general telephone line, has already sold on.

N: It cannot be called the TV telephone. The TV that I mean now is the "moving picture" one.

"Create" the new computer

I: About the tele-communication is mentioned, and ASCII manages the ASCII NET for personal computers, doesn't it? How do you operate it in future?

N: It's important that we inflect and offer the standpoint of ASCII, that is the company publishing, making games, developing the multi media and creating movies. No needs ASCII operates the net if only used for the mail play.

I: Next, as a personal computer, Apple has published a new-type electronical notebook called "Newton" in previous day (29 May (1992)). How do you feel to its type?

N: I suppose it's a new type like the electronical notebook placed under note-type personal computer. I guess the machine which has personal intelligence like it will be more popular. It will substitute notes and wallets some day. Memos and pencils are more useful now though (smilingly).

I: As another side of computers, the existence for game and hobby machine shares very high. How do you think about living closely to computers such as the game machine?

N: Well...... the game is eventually a game if it advanced and advanced. A computer is different at all compared to the game machine. Just the keyboard allergy is gone.

I: Which point do you feel it?

N: A game machine only is a passive state at various sense, I think. It isn't permitted to know about the inside of the hardware and to reconstruct the software.

I: In such meaning, making the hardware up by oneself and creating a hardware are ...

N: They're been able not to. Only software we can do. It's regrettable and sorrowful. We could still realize MSX in about its circuit diagram and connections between chips.

I: According to your words, in future, a class doesn't know anything about the inside of the computer and another class creates the black box of the computer and the software must be more different.

N: Maybe. Recently it's very harder to become the creator from the user. As for "creating the computer", how do we think ... that is, how do we do about Japanese computer education? It's a big problem. Windows, for example, is very complicated so we can't study computers by ourselves if hope to do. I began myself, or that time there's no personal computer so I had to study alone....

We continue with MSX

I: Heard of your talking, I can feel that specializing of the computer goes forward from now. Then the possibility of the appearance that the personal computer which can be called "world wide standard"?

N: Now there's the Windows. And Macintosh.

I: Is it going to undergo a change by the two?

N: For a while. As the next, the home personal computer like the digital video disk I said before.

I: We may expect that the possibility like your talk in 21th century is quite high, may we?

N: It will be so. Just MSX, I think to continue such as making into one chip and pricing down more and more.

I: Do you think about the part of MSX accomplished?

N: It must be the expansion of computer sites. The computers that are spread a number of 5 millions by one type are just PC-9801 and MSX in personal computers. And becoming MY FIRST SONY Graphic computer from MSX for example. There are parts used by transforming its style. Like that meaning, the dream we proposed first has come true.

I: It means, in fact it exists near.

N: So. But saying it too much, it's just a self-gratification (smilingly).

I: Then what is the part of MSX from now?

N: The present computers are more and more complex, and it's hard to research the inside by users, and developing such OS and BASIC is also hard quitely. I think MSX is the last and only one computer that we can realize, or that users can know the inside. For example as a car, the type the user can tune up its engine and wheels by user own and amuse himself. Such MSX like mechanics will continue for long. Also, ASCII supposes to let us suggest how to use corresponding with that way. And, sorry to this at last, I'd like to say "thank you" from my mind for people of 5 millions who make use of MSX all over the world.