Was it Sharp or EPCOM?

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Door sd_snatcher

Prophet (3510)

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07-06-2014, 02:39

There is still a lot of confusion regarding the brand of the Hotbit and related products. Was it Sharp or EPCOM anyways? After all, the Hotbit clearly shows "EPCOM" on its boot screen, isn't it? But the box clearly had only the Sharp brand.

But the solution is simple: EPCOM was a whole owned subsidiary of Sharp, and was responsible for the software. And this includes the Hotbit BIOS. Sharp own brand in the other hand, was used in everything related to hardware.

This advertising states that EPCOM is a Sharp subsidiary, in Portuguese, "Empresa da Divisão Sharp":

And this advertising states that software was created by EPCOM ("todos os meses são lançados diversos programas pela EPCOM e diversas software houses brasileiras" = "every month many softwares are released by EPCOM and other Brazilian software houses"):

This means that the correct branding is:


  • Sharp Hotbit (model: HB-8000)
  • Sharp disk drive+interface (model: HB-3600)
  • Sharp 80 columns card with V9938 (model: HB-4000)
  • Sharp Joystick (model: HB-100, OEM by Dynacom)
  • Sharp cassete recorder (model: HB-2400)
  • Sharp 64KB RAM expansion (model: HB-4100)

Hotbit BIOS by EPCOM
EPCOM HB-MCP (CP/M v2.2 compatible OS)
Hot-Logo by EPCOM

So calling the machine "Epcom Hotbit HB-8000" or "Sharp/EPCOM Hotbit HB-8000" is as awkward as calling "Microsoft Hitbit HB-75" or "Sony/Microsoft Hitbit HB-75". :)

For those interested, this page has many magazine advertising of Sharp MSX products.

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Van hbarcellos

Hero (640)

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07-06-2014, 14:23

Years ago, when I was working in a Bank I met someone who worked for Mathias Machline during the late 80s.
Mathias Machline was the representative of Sharp in Brasil by that time. He died in an helicopter accident in the late 90s and, to make a long story short, the Machline family lost the brand after that. Sharp only returned circa 2011.

He never heard of Epcom.
Something that I think could be interesting is to try to find for some professionals who worked for the Brazilian msx-related companies at that time. For ACVS we all know him, but, I can't even find ONE name for Sharp, Expert division of Gradiente (if exists), DDX and so on.

It would be nice to find them today on LinkedIn and, maybe ask a few questions.

Do you have an idea FRS?

Van Manuel

Ascended (18858)

afbeelding van Manuel

09-06-2014, 13:04

Fixed in openMSX, thanks Smile


Enlighted (5939)

afbeelding van NYYRIKKI

09-06-2014, 13:59

sd_snatcher wrote:

EPCOM HB-MCP (CP/M v2.2 compatible OS)

This is something I have not even heard of... Is ie. this HB-DOS just a binary patched MSX-DOS (like Gradiente ROM is binary patched MSX ROM) or does it really contain some original code?

Van sd_snatcher

Prophet (3510)

afbeelding van sd_snatcher

09-06-2014, 22:55

I never did a deep analysis on HB-DOS, but I know it does have one known extra feature: it detects a V9938 VDP either on 98h or 88h I/O ports and automatically switches to 80 columns mode if it finds one. This means that both MSX1 with V9938, MSX2 or external 80 columns cards with V9938 are supported.

HB-MCP, OTOH, seems to have been completely written by EPCOM. It's a very fast CP/M compatible OS. I remember I preferred to run CP/M programs (like WordStar) on HB-MCP instead of HB-DOS/MSX-DOS because it was much faster. It supports:
- MSX2 or MSX1 with V9938: automatically switches to 80 columns
- 64KB RAM expansion: Adds a ramdisk

The Hotbit BIOS sits in the middle: EPCOM guys clearly had the BIOS sources, and compiled a specific version for the Hotbit, with Brazilian keyboard support routines (multiple dead keys). You can check the ROM and see for yourself that it isn't just a binary hack like the Expert BIOS.

It's not from EPCOM, but you might also get interested in SOLX-DOS. It an MSX-DOS clone written from scratch from the guys at Microsol. It has some extra commands like "SAVE" and some additional utilities like CONVSOL and CONVARQ.

Van sd_snatcher

Prophet (3510)

afbeelding van sd_snatcher

09-06-2014, 23:04


They seem to have vanished in thin air...

I remember once I found some guy who's CV on Linkedin mentioned he worked on the Brazilian Sharp engineering in the exact period of the MSX existence. If I recall correctly, I tried to contact him, but he never answered back.

Van mars2000you

Enlighted (6259)

afbeelding van mars2000you

01-08-2015, 02:12

sd_snatcher : I'm busy to add the version 1.4 of the Hotbit machine in blueMSX (and at the same time all the Sharp Epcom Hotbit machines in blueMSX will be renamed as Sharp HB-8000).

In the text file, I read this :


- Mapa de teclado: Adicionado CODE+\ para facilitar gerar o caracter pipe (|) . GRAPH+SHIFT+\ continua funcionando e chato de usar como sempre.

Actually, on blueMSX, \ corresponds to the most right key on the third row, GRAPH corresponds to Left Alt and CODE to RightAlt. When I press CODE + \ on Hotbit 1.4, I get this character : ¦ instead of |

GRAPH+SHIFT+\ gives me | while GRAPH + RightCRTL (corrresponding to < on the Hotbit) gives me ¦

It looks like there's some confusion for your addition (CODE + \).

Van sd_snatcher

Prophet (3510)

afbeelding van sd_snatcher

01-08-2015, 02:14

What are the ASCII codes generated?

Van mars2000you

Enlighted (6259)

afbeelding van mars2000you

01-08-2015, 02:48

When I use PRINT ASC("|"), I get 1 as answer.

PRINT ASC("¦") gives 124 as answer.

PRINT CHR$(1);CHR$(86) gives me the | character, so it means thas this character is 22th in this machine (86-64), and it corresponds to what I can read in the manual, page 115.

Van sd_snatcher

Prophet (3510)

afbeelding van sd_snatcher

01-08-2015, 04:28

124 is the ASCII code for the pipe character, so CODE+\ is correct. Only the graphic symbol is shown as "¦" both in the Hotbit, Japanese machines and printers from the 80s. It's very similar to the case of "\" versus "¥" in Japanese machines.

The other "|" you're talking about is probably is the GRAPH character for building borders in text mode.

Van mars2000you

Enlighted (6259)

afbeelding van mars2000you

01-08-2015, 07:23

Thanks for for the explanation, I've learnt something new, i didn't knew that this character could be displayed in a broken form. So the confusion was there and not in your code Wink

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