Released in May 1984 at the price of £279, the HX-10 was Toshiba's MSX offering.
This was the model most likely to have been seen in UK homes, it did not reach these shores until 1985.
The MSX was an attempt to make a single computer standard, and was manufactured mainly by Japanese companies. Toshiba, Canon, Sony, Pioneer, Sharp, Hitachi, and a good few others. The origin of the name is in dispute, most accept it stands for Microsoft Extended.
Spectravideo in the US and Philips in Europe also produced versions of the machine. Many Japanese companies were trying to get into the home micro market, and Kazuhiko Nishi, Vice President of Microsoft and Ascii, thought it was a good opportunity to standardise the home market.
There were features of the machines that had to be adhered to, such as the four cursor keys, and was originally built around the architecture of the Spectravideo SV-328 computer, and was comprised of off the shelf parts, such as the Z80 CPU and TMS9918 graphics chip.
Most used full travel keyboard, but companies such as Casio produced much smaller machines that had a chiclet keyboard. Memory wise MSX machines could have 16K, 48K, or most commonly like the HX-10 64K.
By the time the MSX arrived in Europe in late 1985, several companies such as Commodore, Amstrad, Acorn and Sinclair had been enjoying great success, and the MSX machines offered little more than those already on the market, and cost a great deal more.
Also in Japan software would come on Cartridge, and although these were available in Europe, the most common way of loading into the machine was via tape, the HX-10 was even packaged with a tape deck.
Needing tape software, the games companies in the UK and elsewhere were more likely to convert games from the Spectrum, as the architecture with the Z80 was similar, but due to the slower video access, the games were seen as little more than less speedy Spectrum games.
The HX-10 does have a good range of connections on the machine, the power switch is on the left hand side, and the PSU is internal, on the right side are two Atari style joystick ports, and also a centronics interface port. On top of the machine is a cartridge slot, and the rear has the Expansion bus, video out and audio out, the RF and the DIN plug for the cassette lead.
The standard did not go nearly as worldwide as intended, having only a small impact in the UK and France, doing better in the Netherlands and Spain, and also selling well in Japan and S Korea.
If it had released a couple of years earlier throughout the world, and produced cheaper, it could have been a real contender.
Sound: 3 channels
Interfaces: Cassette interface, Joystick port(9 pin D-type), Cartridge slot
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