MSX was a very MS-DOS
-like operating system. It was designed by Microsoft
at the request of a number of Japanese and Korean electronics giants who wanted a single software standard. They had seen the VHS
wars and did not want an expensive battle in the realm of Operating Systems. The point man for the project was Kazuhiko Nishi. He was on the original IBM PC design team (he also designed the innovative TRS-80 Model 100
) and saw that a home computer would likely be popular in Japan. Hence a standard was needed, and unlike IBM's DOS, this standard had to support color and sound since it would be a home computer used mostly for entertainment.
There's some debate as to what MSX actually stood for. Microsoft claimed for a long time it stood for M
tended, a reference to the extended MS BASIC contained on ROM. On the Japanese side of the pond, Japanese hardware manufacturers were told that MSX stood for "Matsushita Sony
X-machine" or "Matsushita, Sony, and X" where X is the name of your company.
Another theory entirely, put forward by Kazuhiko Nishi, that it stood for Machines with Software eXchangeability. And that originally they wanted to call it NSX (Nishi, Sony, X) but Honda
had already trademarked NSX.
Whatever MSX stood for, it's curious Microsoft stopped claiming MS stood for Microsoft when the standard utterly failed introduction into the North American market.
The main Asian adopters of the MSX standard were Sony
, and Daewoo
. In Europe Philips
released a line of MSX computers and for a time MSX computers were not unknown in the Netherlands
and other parts of Europe (not to mention the Soviet Union
Nishi himself pushed for an early form of networking capability to be included in MSX. He was speaking with his grandmother
, trying to sell her on the idea of a home computer. He felt if he could make his grandmother see the need for a home computer, he could then sell the computer to anyone. Every way he tried to sell the computer to his grandmother, his grandmother would answer back that either the TV or the phone served her needs. What was it about the TV/phone, he wondered. Ah, they were networked! He began realizing a computer without a network was like a car without a road system. Without a network of roads, all you have is an expensive karaoke machine
in your driveway.