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80s computing in Japan


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#26 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 19, 2016 12:47 PM

I did manage to find some issues of I/O between 1980-09 and 1982-02 (almost by accident).

 

Now I wish I had saved the index link. Ugh. If only I could remember the search term I used...

 

 

Well, at least I did manage to find these, if that helps at all:

 

https://archive.org/details/Io198010
https://archive.org/details/Io198011
https://archive.org/details/IO198102
https://archive.org/details/IO198109


Edited by Nebulon, Tue Jul 19, 2016 1:20 PM.


#27 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 19, 2016 1:48 PM

This ought to make Keatah happy:

https://archive.org/...ge/n11/mode/2up

 

I/O sure reminds me of Byte Magazine. I can't read enough Japanese to make out all that's being said. However, that doesn't seem to be much of a problem, since between the photos, diagrams, and all the universal computer terminology you can pretty much figure out the essentials. That and pricing is all relative, so it's easy to figure out what cost more than what back in the day.



#28 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 19, 2016 2:24 PM

For anyone looking to get into the retro Japanese computer scene, here are some links with .zip files that will certainly use up a sizeable chunk of your hard drive:

 

https://archive.org/...OSEC_2012_04_23

https://archive.org/...OSEC_2012_04_23

https://archive.org/...OSEC_2012_04_23

https://archive.org/...OSEC_2012_04_23

https://archive.org/..._MSX_2013-04-13

https://archive.org/...OSEC_2012_04_23

 

Have fun!



#29 lazzeri OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2016 3:43 AM

For anyone looking to get into the retro Japanese computer scene, here are some links with .zip files that will certainly use up a sizeable chunk of your hard drive:

 

https://archive.org/...OSEC_2012_04_23

https://archive.org/...OSEC_2012_04_23

https://archive.org/...OSEC_2012_04_23

https://archive.org/...OSEC_2012_04_23

https://archive.org/..._MSX_2013-04-13

https://archive.org/...OSEC_2012_04_23

 

Have fun!

 

   This is great! Thanks!



#30 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 21, 2016 1:58 PM

The 2600 lookalike joystick perhaps is not that interesting, but there also is a Video Command, same kind as used on the Fairchild Channel F and later released by Zircon (?) for Atari compatible systems. This advertiser Addcom seems to have sold those in at least two configurations, one for the NEC PC-6001 / VIC-1001 / National JR-100 / Sanyo PHC-25, and one for the NEC PC-8001 / PC-8801, however joysticks for the latter differ from the Atari style.

 

https://archive.org/...ge/n97/mode/2up

 

It also strikes me that the VIC-1001 still was advertised in early 1983, next to the C64. Those who claim that Commodore never had much of a market share in Japan should browse through old magazines. For a brand that would be mostly unknown to the public, they had remarkably many own advertisements and listed in reseller ads. It also contradicts the saying that the Nintendo Famicom was nearly the first 6502 based system of any kind in Japan. Perhaps the first domestically made, but with so much Commodore and Apple, and even a small splash of Atari and earlier on KIM-1, it seems like history revision to claim that there were no tools or previous skills in programming the 6502 over there.

 

The CSK Micro Computer Shop even had what looks like a stylized VIC-1001 in their logo!

https://archive.org/...e/n135/mode/2up

 

A summary of new products, including the Commodore UltiMAX and C64. Notice those are listed as new products in January 1983, while other sources would suggest the UltiMAX was available in Japan before the US launch of the C64. It may very well have been, just that it was so console-like that I/O didn't bring it up before the Mini BASIC.

https://archive.org/...e/n409/mode/2up

 

(Yes, I focus more on non-Japanese computers present in Japan, which is a different and possibly not intended direction of this topic)

I found a Japanese advertisment for the 6502 from February 1981:

 

https://archive.org/...ge/n41/mode/2up

 

From what I can tell, it's for a computer by Hitachi. Looks like the primary CPU for that machine was a 6809 and then you could buy CPU add-on boards. Odds are the 6502 was a CPU add-on. More info here:

http://www.old-compu...er.asp?st=1&c=2


Edited by Nebulon, Thu Jul 21, 2016 2:05 PM.


#31 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 2, 2016 4:53 PM

I found another magazine, Amusement Life which is far more gaming oriented and lightweight. While I don't read Japanese, they seem to have had a whole panel of female writers going through the latest in arcades, video games, handheld, as well as records, movies and more.

 

https://archive.org/...t-life-magazine

 

Here is some sort of a review of the Mattel Intellivision from April 1983, which is kind of late but perhaps it didn't reach Japan until then.

https://archive.org/...ge/n68/mode/2up



#32 JamesD ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 2, 2016 6:46 PM

I found a Japanese advertisment for the 6502 from February 1981:

 

https://archive.org/...ge/n41/mode/2up

 

From what I can tell, it's for a computer by Hitachi. Looks like the primary CPU for that machine was a 6809 and then you could buy CPU add-on boards. Odds are the 6502 was a CPU add-on. More info here:

http://www.old-compu...er.asp?st=1&c=2

I don't see any mention of a 6502 board.  Only 8088 and Z80.
The Z80 makes sense for CP/M, and the 8088 makes sense for some sort of MS-DOS development or compatibility.  
But the 6502 had no general purpose OS like CP/M or MS-DOS, so I'm not sure I see the point of it. 
After all, it's supposedly a business machine.
 



#33 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 3, 2016 5:47 AM

Commodore managed to sell millions of C64 as business machines despite a 6502 so why not?



#34 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 3, 2016 7:30 AM

But a Hitachi computer with add-on 6502 likely wouldn't make it Apple compatible, nor compatible with any Commodore, Atari, Acorn or any other major brand that ventured into the business market.

 

For cross development purposes, a second processor might be useful but then again you can only run generic 6502 code, or one that resembles a particular memory model without a set of custom chips. This is where CP/M shone, that the base system didn't require any particular custom chips or that every brand would implement a low level BIOS to handle such calls.



#35 JamesD ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 3, 2016 8:55 PM

Commodore managed to sell millions of C64 as business machines despite a 6502 so why not?

I have my doubts that many C64s were sold as business systems, but a lot of Apple IIs were certainly used for business.

carlsson is correct.

 

The 6502 saw no widespread support for a cross platform OS and you needed to port your software to every different platform.
A 6502 board without the custom proprietary hardware isn't going to get you very far, and at best you have a cross development system.
Native 6809 apps would certainly perform the same function.  They would also be smaller and run faster than 6502 versions.
Since the Hitachi was based on OS-9, you could even run more than one application at a time.

FWIW, there is a CP/M like OS called DOS/65 for a fixed spec KIM.  It could have been ported to other systems, and I think there is a version for the C64... but I'm not sure anyone used it outside of the KIM owners. 
It came with Small C, Pascal, Comal, BASIC, Forth, and an editor assembler.
Clearly the potential was there, but at best, DOS/65 probably had hundreds of users rather than thousands or millions.
I don't think it had the support of any major applications.
I'm sure a custom version could have been made for the Hitachi machine, but you would only gain existing 6502 tools.
 


Edited by JamesD, Wed Aug 3, 2016 8:56 PM.


#36 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 4, 2016 1:48 AM

Isn't DOS/65 a relatively new invention, something released in the past 20 years?

 

Oh well, unless someone digs Japanese we can only guess exactly what the advertisement says. Since Apple ][ to a big part could be recreated using off the shelf components and a cloned ROM, it might very well have been the case here, just that the ad didn't want to spell out "expansion that turns your Hitachi into an unlicensed Apple clone". As we've seen from these magazines, Apple did have a reasonable market share in Japan so it isn't too far-fetched.



#37 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 4, 2016 12:26 PM

I don't see any mention of a 6502 board.  Only 8088 and Z80.
The Z80 makes sense for CP/M, and the 8088 makes sense for some sort of MS-DOS development or compatibility.  
But the 6502 had no general purpose OS like CP/M or MS-DOS, so I'm not sure I see the point of it. 
After all, it's supposedly a business machine.
 

It's on the left-hand page, the fourth line down under the bold "6502, Z80, 6809" banner. It reads "CPU6502" with a price next to it.

 

Now since I can't read Japanese, I'm unable to determine whether it's just the CPU by itself or a plug-in card.



#38 JamesD ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 4, 2016 1:25 PM

It's on the left-hand page, the fourth line down under the bold "6502, Z80, 6809" banner. It reads "CPU6502" with a price next to it.

 

Now since I can't read Japanese, I'm unable to determine whether it's just the CPU by itself or a plug-in card.

That's just a CPU, you can tell by the price.  I don't know what the conversion rate was back then, but that's definitely too cheap to be a card.



#39 JamesD ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 4, 2016 1:41 PM

Isn't DOS/65 a relatively new invention, something released in the past 20 years?

 

Oh well, unless someone digs Japanese we can only guess exactly what the advertisement says. Since Apple ][ to a big part could be recreated using off the shelf components and a cloned ROM, it might very well have been the case here, just that the ad didn't want to spell out "expansion that turns your Hitachi into an unlicensed Apple clone". As we've seen from these magazines, Apple did have a reasonable market share in Japan so it isn't too far-fetched.

I found a magazine article that talks about "DOS65" dated to 1985 and disk images of utilities clearly have dates as far back as 1986.
So the DOS appears to be at least that old.  Who knows when it was first released.  
I think the C64 conversion and other ports may be recent.

*edit*
Maybe magazine is the wrong word.  Newsletter?


Edited by JamesD, Thu Aug 4, 2016 1:44 PM.


#40 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 4, 2016 1:55 PM

It appears that the headline says "オリジナル基板好評発売中!!" which Google translates as "In the original board sale".

 

The first line says "コンバチブル基板" (convertible board) for 25000 yen, which could be some universal expansion board?

 

The second line "IC セ ツ卜 (ク リ ス タル付)" is more difficult to interpret: IC cell Tsu Bok (with clock re-scan Tal). Altering spacing yields different results, e.g. if all the spaces within parenthesis are removed, we get "crystal" as the translation.

 

Not sure about the third line, could be "リケ ツ卜 セ  ツ卜" modulo that the first character might be different and spacing matters. The ツ卜 (Tsu Bok) combination occurs twice, although Google Translate doesn't know what it really means.

 

And so on. 



#41 JamesD ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 5, 2016 1:24 AM

It appears that the headline says "オリジナル基板好評発売中!!" which Google translates as "In the original board sale".

 

The first line says "コンバチブル基板" (convertible board) for 25000 yen, which could be some universal expansion board?

 

The second line "IC セ ツ卜 (ク リ ス タル付)" is more difficult to interpret: IC cell Tsu Bok (with clock re-scan Tal). Altering spacing yields different results, e.g. if all the spaces within parenthesis are removed, we get "crystal" as the translation.

 

Not sure about the third line, could be "リケ ツ卜 セ  ツ卜" modulo that the first character might be different and spacing matters. The ツ卜 (Tsu Bok) combination occurs twice, although Google Translate doesn't know what it really means.

 

And so on. 

I doubt that is an accurate translation.  
Convertable board is probably some sort of upgrade, but I doubt it's a universal CPU board.  
The buss interface for each of those processors is different.  
Consider how expensive a CP/M board was for the Apple II.  That would be 40,000 yen or more.
The 6502 is somewhere around $12-$15 US from the look of the pricing.



#42 The Usotsuki OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 5, 2016 5:04 AM

It appears that the headline says "オリジナル基板好評発売中!!" which Google translates as "In the original board sale".

 

The first line says "コンバチブル基板" (convertible board) for 25000 yen, which could be some universal expansion board?

 

The second line "IC セ ツ卜 (ク リ ス タル付)" is more difficult to interpret: IC cell Tsu Bok (with clock re-scan Tal). Altering spacing yields different results, e.g. if all the spaces within parenthesis are removed, we get "crystal" as the translation.

 

Not sure about the third line, could be "リケ ツ卜 セ  ツ卜" modulo that the first character might be different and spacing matters. The ツ卜 (Tsu Bok) combination occurs twice, although Google Translate doesn't know what it really means.

 

And so on. 

o.o?  I don't know how you get "tsu bok" out of ット, that's "tto".  The second line is "IC set (with crystal)".

 

The third line is ソケットセット - "socket set".

CPU6502

Character ROM

RAM (16KB)

ROM Monitor

Auto Start Monitor

6K BASIC ROM

10K BASIC ROM

AID #1

 

...these last 4 sound fishy.  Possibly Apple ][ firmwares?

 

RAM Select Plug  3ヶ (?) 1 group (I'm not sure what to make of this)

Cable for keyboard (with plug)

Cable for paddle I/O (with plug)

Choke coil (?) (27 µH)

CR set

ROM card

Universal card

Z-80 CPU card

6809 CPU card

not sure what "sheiappukeesu" is.  something up-case...?

DCDC converter



#43 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 5, 2016 5:54 AM

Thank you! You're better on Japanese than Google Translate is, that is for sure. I used a separate site to OCR one line at a time, with some errors that I tried to correct visually.

 

Yeah, I suppose the Hitachi computer in standard configuration must have BASIC ROM so those extra chips must be for Z80 or 6502 add-on. I'm thinking about designs like KIM-1, SYM-65, AIM-65 as well as Apple products, but it sounds more likely that they would try to make the computer compatible with Apple than any single board computers.



#44 The Usotsuki OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 5, 2016 6:30 AM

Yeah, they're prolly Microsoft Softcard (Z80) or Stellation Mill (6809) clones.



#45 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 5, 2016 7:05 AM

Btw, Google Translate wants "シェイアップケース" to mean "shape up case". Google Image search results in pictures of mobile phone cases, as well as some older computer cases, so I suppose it simply could be a case to put the items in, assuming not everything went into the internal expansion slots.

 

Furthermore, Google recommends searching for "シェイプアップケース" instead, which is support hosiery and other forms of underwear, but also various phone and guitar cases.

 

I suppose the character and monitor ROMs were 2K each, as those sold for 2900 yen a piece, while the BASIC ROMs were 8700 and 14500 yen. That is exactly 1450 yen per kilobyte of ROM.

 

While Google Translate doesn't have any built-in upload OCR, it has a hand drawing mode which is reasonably good at detecting characters. Of course the characters borrowed from Chinese are near impossible to replicate by hand for an untrained eye, but that is another matter.


Edited by carlsson, Fri Aug 5, 2016 7:27 AM.

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#46 JamesD ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 5, 2016 11:08 AM

That might be an S-100, S-50, or similar buss machine.
The main board is just sockets and the CPU is a separate board.  
That would mean the 6502 is a board with CPU. 
The universal card is probably universal I/O card with serial and parallel ports.

The problem with this interpretation is that it makes the monitor and Hitachi computer very expensive.
I doubt this is what it is.

 

The ROMs seem odd for an Apple II+.  
Maybe the larger ROM is Applesoft and the smaller ROM is integer BASIC.  
The Monitor/Autoboot is a separate ROM, and the Aid ROM is the Apple II Programmer's Aid #1 upgrade 
This seems more likely, but the add seems to expect you to know what each ROM is.
So we are missing some context with the translation or what they have been advertising for some time.
*edit*
Maybe the ad is intentionally vague do to copyrights and building your own Apple clone was a common thing.
If you were into such a thing you knew which parts were needed.


Edited by JamesD, Fri Aug 5, 2016 11:11 AM.


#47 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 5, 2016 12:49 PM

See the right hand page as well, where they lost a lot more loose chips and peripherals, including S-100 bus items, floppy disks and so on.

 

Basically, I suppose a customer would call them or pay them a visit to figure out exactly what they liked to buy, if you didn't know on beforehand.

 

If you want to know what it looks like inside, there is a picture on this page. It refers to the MB-6890 as a "Japanese Apple ][" but I think it is meant more as a concept than actual compatibility. It could very well be so that expansion cards actually made it Apple compatible.

 

http://keikato.cocol...90apple-ii.html

 

I suppose the fact that the MB-6890 was nicknamed "Peach" by Hitachi also says something about their inspiration and ambitions.


Edited by carlsson, Fri Aug 5, 2016 12:59 PM.


#48 JamesD ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 5, 2016 1:27 PM

I think it uses the same card connectors as the Apple II, but don't think it's compatible even with a 6502,

From the look of the youtube videos, it's quite a bit different from the Apple.  
I think it's video is based on programmable characters.

*edit* 
After watching more videos, it appears to have some sort of bitmap mode.


Edited by JamesD, Fri Aug 5, 2016 2:22 PM.


#49 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:59 AM

I had another stint at the I/O magazines and came across this Prolog (?) implementation for the +8K VIC-1001 (i.e. VIC-20). I doubt it has full compuational power, but probably worked as an introduction to the language. I wonder if they had similar listings for the more popular, Japanese computers as well.

https://archive.org/...e/n341/mode/2up

 

I also found the PiO magazine, a more gaming oriented branch of I/O. However I only found one issue scanned.

https://archive.org/details/PioVol.1

 

A few more magazines:

 

Micom/Mycom BASIC Magazine: https://archive.org/...agazine-1988-04(should also exist more issues)

Super Soft Magazine: https://archive.org/...zine?sort=-date (possibly mostly gaming oriented, also incomplete)

plus some MSX magazines of course


Edited by carlsson, Mon Sep 19, 2016 9:18 AM.


#50 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 19, 2016 12:15 PM

Btw, Google Translate wants "シェイアップケース" to mean "shape up case". Google Image search results in pictures of mobile phone cases, as well as some older computer cases, so I suppose it simply could be a case to put the items in, assuming not everything went into the internal expansion slots.
 
Furthermore, Google recommends searching for "シェイプアップケース" instead, which is support hosiery and other forms of underwear, but also various phone and guitar cases.

 
I know this is an older reply but it was never answered and it's kind of a tiny hobby of mine trying to decipher Japanese katakana words (I've been studying the language for a few years and I like to practice when I can).
 
But I think in this case (no pun intended), this may be one of those made-up words that was kind of period-specific and may no longer be used. I've never heard it before and I can't figure out what it is. It's definitely *not* "shape up case" because there's a missing character - Google's just trying to correct what it thinks is your typo.
 
Katakana words are usually borrowed from other languages, so given that "ケース" is "case", it's probably all English. But "シェイアップ" doesn't really sound like anything to me. In Japanese it would be pronounced close to "shay-up", and usually the way I figure out words like this is to just repeat them over and over out loud until I realize I'm speaking some common English word with a really thick Japanese accent. But that's not happening this time, so I think it's probably just a word lost to time, or a really technical thing that just not many people ever say these days. A lot of katakana words are shortened/abbreviated also (like "Starbucks" is commonly written as ”スタ―バ”, spoken as "Sta-ba") so it could be something like that too, but I still can't think of what the original words would be.

 

It could also be just kind of wrong; some borrowed words get horribly mangled in Japanese. (Same with any language, really.)

 

I'm wondering if it's the actual computer casing itself. It seems kind of expensive for some random little part.






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