The MSX Standard
MSX was announced by Microsoft and the ASCII Corporation on June 16th 1983. It was marketed by Kasuhiko Nishi, who
was Vice-President at Microsoft and a director at the ASCII Corporation. MSX was an attempt to create a hardware and
software standard among various home computers, similar to what VHS had accomplished for the Home Video market.
The MSX Standard defines specifications for:
- CPU and Memory
- Video Output hardware
- Audio hardware
- Cassette and Disk drives
- Keyboard, mouse and joysticks
- Expansion and I/O ports
As a result, sofware and hardware are interchangable between machines from different manufacturers. The standard sets rules
for the minimum, but manufacturers are free to expand beyond that and make their machines unique.
The standard became a success in Japan, with many big software houses such as Konami creating games for it.
Outside of Japan, the adoption rate was low. In the USA, Microsoft actively pushed the PC compatibles, since
they sold the operating system for it, and in Europe the MSX computers had stiff competition from Commodore
and Atari. The Netherlands and Spain have the highest rates of MSX users in Europe.
MSX I/O Ports
The follwing sections details the Standard MSX I/O ports that are available on every MSX.
MSX Cassette Pin Layout
The MSX Standard calls for all MSX computers to have a standard data-cassette port.
This port transports the audio-in/out signals to and from the datarecorder and the
computer has a relay-switch on board to turn the recorder on and off.
MSX Cartridge Connector
The MSX Cartridge system uses a 50-pin flat-edge connector to connect to the systems expansion bus.
The cartridge slot maps into one of the main- or sub-slots.
MSX Joystick Connector
Zilog Z80A @3.58MHz
64K RAM, 16K VRAM
3 voice channels + white noise
1 color, 16x16, 4/scanline, 32 total
40x24 text, 256x192 pattern based graphics, 16 color
Texas Instruments TMS9129NL
General Instruments AY-3-8910 Programmable Sound Generator
Books & Publications
Books related to the MSX Standard of microcomputers
Magazines & Serials
MSX Computer Club Magazine - MSX Blad van MSX Club Belgie/Nederland
MSX Computer Magazine - Maandblad voor MSX-Gebruikers
MSX Magazine from Brazil, later included Amiga as well
MSX Fan, Japanese MSX Magazine
Magazine voor MSX gebruiker en programmeur
Het Nederlandstalige computerblad voor MSX-Bezitters
MSX Magazine, Japanese MSX Magazine
MSX Micro Magazine, Brazilian MSX magazine
MSX Mozaïk was a user group magazine started by Dirk Scheper. The magazine first appeared as a single page in the MSX-Info magazine of January 1985.
MSX World, spanish MSX Magazine
World Wide Web Links
MSX Resource Center dedicated to MSX. It has an extensive archive of MSX news, an active MSX forum, lots of information in their MSX wiki and a large section of free MSX software.
MSXVR is a computer that is hardware and software compatible with MSX computers, implemented
Computer fandom website for MSX