Japanese books for retro computer fans

Posted by in Hardware, Japan, MSX, Retro, Technology | May 25, 2015

During a conversation on Facebook earlier today I mentioned a couple of books by Japanese author Hiroyuki Maeda, and I promised to post more information later. These books are for retro computer fans, even those who can’t understand Japanese. Mr. Maeda has published several books about retro computers and game consoles, but in this post I’ll talk about two of them:

  • 懐かしのホビーパソコンガイドブック (The Nostalgic Hobby PC Guidebook, ISBN 978-4-7755-2339-1)
  • 海外のゲーム&パソコンガイドブック (The Oversea’s Game & PC Guidebook, ISBN 978-4-7755-2419-0)

Left: The Oversea’s Game & PC Guidebook. Right: The Nostalgic Hobby PC Guidebook.

These books contain lots of information about hundreds of computer systems and consoles from the late 70s to the early 90s. Keep reading for a taste of what’s inside

The Nostalgic Hobby PC Guidebook

This book was released on November 2014. Mr. Maeda describes most Japanese computers from the 8-bit and 16-bit era, from the NEC TK-80 single-board training kit (1976), all the way to the MSX turbo R (1990-91), Sharp X68000 (1987-93), Fujitsu FM TOWNS (1989-95).


Pyuta (Tomy, 1982). Click to enlarge.


Sony SMC-777 (1983). Click to enlarge.


Toshiba Pasopia (1981). Toshiba later used this brand in their MSX computers, but this machine didn’t have much in common with the MSX. Click to enlarge.


Several interesting MSX2 models. Click to enlarge.

This is the whole list of machines in this book:

  • NEC TK-80, PC-8001, PC-8801, PC-6001, PC-6601, PC-88xx (many models)
  • Sharp MZ-80K, MZ-700, MZ-1500, X1 (many models), Super MZ, X68000 (many models)
  • Hitachi ベーシックマスター (BASIC Master), S1
  • National (Panasonic) JR-100, JR-200
  • Sanyo PHC-25
  • Mitsubishi MULTI8
  • Casio FP-1000, PV-20000
  • Sony SMC-70, SMC-777
  • MSX, MSX2, MSX2+, MSX turbo R (many models)
  • Tomy Pyuta
  • Sord M5
  • Nintendo Family Computer (Family Basic)
  • Bandai RX-78 GUNDAM
  • SEGA SC-3000, Teradrive
  • Fujitsu FM-7, FM77AV (many models), PC-98 (many models), FM TOWNS (many models)

Every model comes with technical specifications, photos, and examples of commercials and software of the time, and an explanation of what made this computer different from the others.

It also mentions, but with not so much detail, several computers from overseas: Apple II, Commodore 64 / VIC-1001 / PET 2001, Sinclair ZX-81 / Spectrum, Tandy TRS-80, BBC Micro, Atari 800, Amstrad CPC, TI-99/4A, Macintosh 128k, Amiga 500, Acorn Archimedes, Atari 1040ST.

The last pages of the book include information about what emulators are and how to use them, a guide about how and where to find these old computers and software in Akihabara or Yahoo! Auctions, and an interview with a Japanese fan who restores old computers to almost perfect condition.

The Oversea’s Game & PC Guidebook

Published in April 2015. This book follows the same format as the previous one, but this time the theme is game consoles and home computers from outside Japan. The first half of the book presents game consoles from the 70s (Atari Pong, Nintendo Game & Watch) all the way to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Android-based game consoles. The second half describes home computers from all over the planet, many of which I hadn’t heard about before.


Part of the index. Click to enlarge.


Sinclair ZX Spectrum (1982). Click to enlarge.


First-generation MSX computers from around the world (1983). Click to enlarge.


Robotron KC (1984). Really weird machine. Click to enlarge.

The last pages of the book contain information about many clone machines, details on where to find these computers and software reviews. It also includes a 4-page article about the fun we had in Europe during the 80-90s: rivalty between users of different computers (in Spain it was Spectrum VS Amstrad VS Commodore VS MSX), challenges using software written in other languages than our own, deficient technical support, piracy, and where these computers were used in our day-to-day (video rental shops, government installations, etc). Mr. Maeda interviewed me for this article. :-)


Spanish MSX-Club covers in a Japanese computer book! Click to enlarge

Get the books!

Here in Japan they’re easy to find, because they’re almost in any big book store that sells computer books. They’re also easily available in Amazon Japan:

I don’t know how easy it’ll be to buy them from outside Japan. If you want them and can’t find them in your country just contact me. I can help.

3 comments on “Japanese books for retro computer fans

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