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What is MSX?

"Other computer?" "not a pentium?"

Many people nowadays believe that PC-like machines are computers, and that computers are PC's. Not true. PC's are a certain type of computer. A bit like a Playstation, or Nintendo, would be a comparison. Software (i.e. games) produced for a Playstation will not work on a PC (leaving emulation aside). MSX is something like that. It has its own software.

MSX is a computer platform used by a large public from 1980 to 1996, approximately. Different from other platforms in that period, it was a standard for computers, not a specific brand. Large companies such as Sony and Philips would create their own computers that complied to the MSX standard.

MSX computers are roughly comparable to Commodore 64 computers, maybe you've seen one of them. (Now MSX owners stand up and protest.) There are later generations of MSX standards, with added capabilities. Parallax MSX Games actually produces games for the MSX-2 standard and upwards. This MSX-2 standard can be compared to a Commodore Amiga. (Now Amiga owners stand up and protest.)

What does it all mean? MSX games (not demos of course, nitwit) run in resolutions up to 512 by 212 pixels, and can display either 256 fixed colours at once or 16 from a palette of 512. The MSX is a slow computer, so many cool effects can't be done, you won't play Unreal Tournament on it. Soundwise it can be acceptable with some plug-in devices, a bit like a sound card for your PC.

But the MSX is now dated, and is only used by a community of enthusiasts, communicating mainly through the internet. It is no longer being produced. You can only buy them second-hand, which should be easy, they aren't worth much. Erm... don't mail me about this, check out the MSX newsgroup or something on usenet (comp.sys.msx) or Dejanews.

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