Useful Notes / PC-88
In the 1980s
, Western personal computers were scarce in the Japanese market, in large part because they weren't equipped to handle Japanese characters
. Instead, Japanese electronics companies like Sharp and Fujitsu marketed their own brands of higher-resolution personal computers, and many others sold the MSX
. But NEC, the company which later developed the Turbo-Grafx 16
console, dominated the market with its PC-8801 series. Introduced in 1981, the PC-88 (as the system is commonly known) held sway until the 16-bit NEC PC-9801
gradually displaced it in the late 1980s.
Over a dozen different models of the PC-8801 were made. The PC-88VA/VA2/VA3 deserves special mention: it was a 16-bit machine which tried to bridge the gap between the PC-8801 and PC-9801, and also appeal to gamers with graphical capabilities superior to both. However, the NEC PC Engine
console, introduced the same year, took away a lot of interest (confusingly, "PC-Engine" was also the name of the PC-88VA's operating system), and the PC-88VA failed to catch on as Japanese gamers looking for a more powerful 16-bit system generally preferred the Sharp X68000
Notable developers Enix, Squaresoft, Game Arts
, Telenet Japan
, and Koei
all released their first games on the PC-88; the latter two were releasing new games for the system as late as 1992.
- The PC-8801's CPU was a 4MHz NEC µPD780, which was updated in 1986 and later used an 8MHz µPD70008. Both were compatible with the Z80A found in the MSX.
- The PC-88VA instead used an NEC µPD9002 (8MHz), a custom 16-bit processor compatible with both the Z80A and the V30 CPU which NEC was using in its PC-9801 models.
- PC-8801: Starting from 64KB up to 192KB of RAM, and 48KB graphics VRAM (plus 4KB text VRAM in later models).
- PC-88VA: 512KB RAM, 256KB VRAM
- The PC-8801's V1 graphics mode could display 640×200 with 8 colors, or 640×400 monochrome. The higher resolution was useful for displaying Kanji characters.
- V2 mode, found on the PC-8801mkII SR and other post-1985 models and used in most games, was similar to V1 mode, but colors could be selected from a palette of 512.
- V3 mode was unique to the PC-88VA, offering 65536-color graphics in various resolutions, with hardware sprites and scrolling.
- An internal speaker was all the sound that was available on pre-1985 models.
- PC-8801mkII SR vastly improved the quality of music in PC-88 games with a Yamaha YM2203 sound chip (which was also used in many arcade machines) producing 3-channel FM synth. All later PC-88 models provided either this chip or a YM2680 producing 6-channel stereo synth plus mono ADPCM.
Original to This Platform
Ported or Concurrently Developed