Check out Microsoft’s first gaming console

A friend tweeted a Wikipedia link to me last night, and he managed to do something unusual: he showed me a gadget I’d never even heard of before.

The XBox wasn’t the first MS gaming console. Between 1983 and 1995 MS and their hardware partners sold the MSX, a keyboard style home computer/ gaming console.

click to embiggen

The design is similar to the Commodore 64 and the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A. The computer was built into the keyboard, and you used your television as a monitor. Games and apps came on both cartridges (which you could insert into the console directly) and floppy disks (disk drive sold separately).

Four generations of this console were produced by a couple dozen companies, and a total of around 5 million units were sold. In comparison, around 61 million original Nintendos were produced over its 10 years of production.

click to embiggen

What set the MSX part from other consoles was that vast number of competing models. The MSX wasn’t a console so much as it was a design spec. All of the models were supposed to be compatible, and they all ran the same software.

For an obscure device that I’d never heard of, it’s pretty cool. You can find games and consoles on Ebay, if you’re interested. there are also a bunch more pictures on Wikipedia.


Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

1 Comment

  1. Hido3 March, 2011

    MSX were great machines back in the day, produced mainly by Japanese companies (Sony, Sharp, NEC). Great graphics for the times (hardware sprite control), 3 chanel sound, floppy disk drives …
    Unfortunately way more expensive than the competition and weak software support killed them off.


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