NEC PC-9801 VM

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This personal computer from NEC Corporation was released in Japan in 1985. Like other machines in the PC98 range, it was not entirely compatible with the IBM Personal Computer.

The full range of computers were on the market from 1982 to 2000. By 1999, more than 18 million had been sold.

Despite using a similar processor. The BIOS, I/O ports, and graphic system are all very different from the IBM computer. Despite this, it could still run specially modified version of DOS and Windows. In Japan the PC98 computers were extremely popular, cornering around 70% of the market, and thousands of software titles were released - many of them games, despite it being originally positioned as a business system.

NEC had been making mainframes since 1976, but had no presence in the home computer market. By 1982, it was decided a new range of computers could be brought to market, the big attraction being that they would just plug in and work out of the box.

Microsoft were approached to provide BASIC, but no agreement could be reached, so NEC reverse engineered their own Japanese one.

From 1982 to 1994, NEC would rapidly develop the capabilities of the machines, being mindful to retain backwards compatibility with older software. Fujitsu, Epson, and Toshiba amongst others would develop many machines alongside NEC, and this great rivalry would push technology ever higher, as each company would use other's innovations to produce cheaper, faster and smaller computers.


CPU: NEC V30 10 MHz
RAM: 384KB
Disk drives: 2 x 5.25" floppy-disk 2HD/2DD
Video: 640×400 with 8 colors (16 colors optional) chosen from among the 4096 available.

Two Japanese-language manuals were included with this computer when donated to the Centre.  The manuals relate to the software packages 'Technomate' and the word processor Ichitaro.  A PDF is available on request.

Manufacturer: NEC
Date: 1985

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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH40715. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.


NEC PC-9801 VM

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