One of the original creators of the MSX, Kazuhiko Nishi, has been discussing the prospect of creating a new generation of the machine over the last year, both on Twitter and on his website. This is news that will likely excite fans of old Japanese computers.
ASCII and Microsoft created the first MSX home computer for the Eastern market back in the early '80s. Although it wasn't initially designed with gaming in mind, it's soon became associated with the hobby, thanks to Japanese developers, such as Konami and Hudson Soft, who started publishing their games on the platform. This included popular titles like Bomberman and Metal Gear.
In a post on his blog, dated 29th June 2022, Nishi stated his intentions for this new generation of MSX products,
"I'm thinking 18 hours a day to finalize the specifications of MSX3 with the aim of meeting software developers at the end of July. There are three things [that the third generation of MSX] is aiming for.
"The first is to make an inexpensive one-board system that runs on Linux as an extension of the previous computer. The displays are 2K, 4K and 8K. When you connect an optical disc, it takes CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and UHD Blu-Ray. If you connect to the Internet, you can play video and audio.
"The second is a device for IoT. About 300 types of Grove sensors can be connected, and programmed with MSX IoT BASIC.
"And the third is Super Computing. Eight 64-bit modules of ARM realize a cubic menicoa cluster combined with the Torus network in the XYZ direction. I want to make an easy-to-use supercomputer for people who have never touched one. No one has done this in the world of computers and smartphones. It's about 128 CPU at most, but I want to try it with 1024 CPU from the beginning."
Yesterday (21st September), he also posted a bit more information about the supercomputer part of his plans:
"I'm designing a new computer called MSX3. As part of that, we are planning a personal supercomputer.
It appears that's not all he's shared either, with the engineer and businessman posting some tweets showing off the new branding for the MSX 3 and the MSX Turbo supercomputer (pictured below).
And over on Twitter, he's just announced this month that Occam will be the new programming language for the MSX 3, saying that this will allow for "more detailed and efficient programming".
It will be interesting to see what happens with this set of new machines, as the last attempt to make an MSX3 didn't necessarily go to plan, with the computer missing its deadline leading to the development and release of the revised MSX TurboR. Arguably one of the biggest hurdles for development will be the ongoing semiconductor shortage, which Nishi admits is providing a few headaches already.
Between this and the X68000 Z mini, though, it's clearly an exciting time for Japanese PC-revival projects. We'll try and keep you updated as more information becomes available.
Do you have an MSX computer in your collection? Let us know in the comments!