Why the MSX2 was so little known outside of Japan?

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Par litwr

Resident (51)

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14-12-2021, 14:09

IMHO the MSX2 computers were very good for their time. They were slightly better than the contemporary Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum 2/3, Apple IIc. They generally matched the Tandy CoCo 3, or BBC Master. However they were even quite rare in the Netherlands where Philips were producing them. Maybe it is because the MSX2 computers were too expensive?
I know that there were a lot of other very interesting Japanese home computers which were almost unknown anywhere else. Their technical specifications, for instance, for the Fujitsu Micro 7 were very impressive. Why didn't Fujitsu and other Japanese computer manufacturers show their models on Cebit? Didn't try to spread them outside Japan?
Of course, the MSX2 was known and used in a large number of countries but the number of these computers were rather very small compared to other models in all countries but Japan and maybe South Korea... I may miss some information, but I can assume that almost all the software for the MSX2 was also from Japan too... Were there any limitations for third party software producers?
Thank you.

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Par TheKid

Paragon (1238)

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14-12-2021, 15:47

I don’t know about the part that msx was very rare in the netherlands. When I was young (the 80’s), everyone in my surrounding had a msx. With everyone I mean friends, children in my school, collegues of my father and also family. So, I would not call msx rare.

Par aoineko

Champion (487)

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14-12-2021, 16:04

The best material is not always the best seller. At that time, sales depended a lot on the choice of distribution channels. In my opinion, MSX was not well marketed outside Japan; neither to the distributors nor to the consumers.

Par ivke2006

Expert (84)

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14-12-2021, 16:26

MSX and MSX2 where big in the Netherlands. Especially Philips contributed big time to the popularity.
However it was noticeable that MSX2 was only supported by 2 big companies (Philips and Sony) instead of a whole bunch of companies for MSX1.

Basically there where 3 main groups in the Netherlands.

- C64 users
- Commodore Amiga users
- MSX users

Par Haze

Master (146)

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14-12-2021, 16:26

MSX 2s were definitely not rare in the Netherlands.

TheKid wrote:

I don’t know about the part that msx was very rare in the netherlands. When I was young (the 80’s), everyone in my surrounding had a msx. With everyone I mean friends, children in my school, collegues of my father and also family. So, I would not call msx rare.

I've had similar experiences, where everyone in the family had a Philips (except for that one uncle who swore by Sony), they were used in the office and even my school's computer room was fully decked out with NMS-8250s before PCs became the norm. Aside from personal experiences, you can also see this reflected in the amount of scene created products and games from NL requiring MSX 2.

But I don't think that takes away from the situation you're describing. It's quite clear to see that the first generation of MSXs were just more plentiful and popular on the global market. And I think that availability and variety played a lot into the amount of software/games created for MSX vs. MSX 2.

Are you per chance looking for examples of popular MSX 2 (or up) software from outside Japan?

Par Grauw

Ascended (10604)

Portrait de Grauw

14-12-2021, 16:37

I agree in the Netherlands MSX2 was quite common, but from what I see in Spain the scene revolves mostly around MSX1 so I think MSX2 didn’t have a large presence there. For me as someone who grew up with MSX2, I was always a bit surprised at the large focus on MSX1 (also considering MSXDev rules etc).

Par Pac

Scribe (6719)

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14-12-2021, 16:52

You are right, in Spain there were more MSX1 but MSX2 was not unknown. My (our) first MSX was a NMS 8220 and my older brothers had some friends with MSX2 too.

Par Metalion

Paragon (1529)

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14-12-2021, 18:26

First of all, MSX1 in Europe was not a big success... At least not the success that the manufacturer hoped for (alright, there are some exceptions, like Netherlands and Spain, but they are just that, exceptions). So when the MSX2 was launched, there was already a lot less manufacturers ready to go into that venture, as their first try at the market had been a failure. And a lot less distributors. And a lot less developers. And a lot less customers, since they saw that MSX had not a big share of the market.

Secondly, the timing was wrong. The MSX2 was launched in Europe in 1985/1986 (and timidly as that), and a few months after the launch, the Amiga and the Atari ST came onto the scene. They were game changers. They brought hires graphics, 16/32 bits processor, and they opened a whole new world. Alright, they were expensive at first, but the Atari ST quickly became more affordable. In a market were customers wanted performance AND new technologies, the MSX2 was very far behind (even if we know now that it had real assets, like the very first graphic processor with hardware acceleration). MSX2 was a continuation with some improvements. The 16/32 bits were all new computers with a clean break from the past. They were the next generation.

Par AnsiStar

Expert (115)

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14-12-2021, 20:16

And when MSX I came to Germany it was very expensive. In 85 the price of an Hit Bit was nearly 1000 Deutschmarks. A C 64 was around 500 DM then. If my memory is correct. In the end of the year 85 the Sony falls too 300 DM. The MSX II arrived just too late. As Metalion wrote the new generation was allready there. Commodore and Atari were a big brand too in those days. Well, and the spectrum was just the cheapest...

Par Briqunullus

Hero (528)

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14-12-2021, 22:22

I have scanned quite a few magazines from the early MSX era lately. The general impression that I got from those years is that a lot of commercial initiatives spawned around home computers. There were magazines, books, courses (even advertised to people considering buying a computer), etc.

MSX2 would follow shortly after, but the atmosphere in magazines is already different. The dust has settled, the hype is over and only more serious users would consider buying a MSX2. In the Netherlands this would still be a decent amount of MSX2's sold, thanks to Philips and Sony. In sales numbers however, I think, they could not match MSX1 figures. In usage, MSX2 got much more serious, resulting in quite a group sticking around the system into the 90's.

Par gdx

Enlighted (5595)

Portrait de gdx

15-12-2021, 01:13

I think what Aoineko is saying sums it up well. There is also the time. Many people did not want to promote this standard. The Japanese are a bit scary with their powerful industry. Now it's China.

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