Linking a TI-83 to an MSX
MCCW issue 91, January/February 2000
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MSX-Kanji revealed
the large Japanese MSX fair
The MSX World Expo ‘99 report

In this article the Spanish MSX group Matra Corporation, consisting of Miss Z-0, Madonna Mark Two and S.T.A.R., tells you about their visit to the Japanese MSX fair MSX World Expo ‘99. The article was originally written in Spanish by Miss Z-0, but was ‘rush-translated’ by Madonna Mark Two.

Miss Z-0/Madonna Mark Two
The fair
What could be seen
Other things
Sales stand


Well, after some adventures, two Matra agents — S.T.A.R. & Z-0 — got to cruise overhead to Chiba, Japan, to attend MSX World Expo ‘99. At first I was supposed to go alone (Z-0) but fearing possible organisation glitches and the risk of losing myself in Japan, S.T.A.R. decided in the last minute to go with me. Frankly, the expectations were no good. Here’s an excerpt from a message sent by the organisation:

  1. We decide which software/hardware we’ll demonstrate or not.
  2. We’ll try our best to display Matra products, but there is a possibility we’ll run out of space. :(
  3. All of the sales in MSX World Expo will take place in one concentrated stand. You are not allowed to sell by yourself.
  4. We are ready to sell Matra products. Please tell me
    1. number of copies (like “40 SBB packages and 50 MATs”)
    2. their prices
    Caution : We will charge 10% of your sales from software/hardware, and 8% of your sales from other goodies (MAT in your case). Rest of the sales (90% of software/hardware and 92% of the goodies) will be yours.

     Something pretty apart from conventional fair guidelines. So SBB could be censored, there was a chance to have no stand, I couldn’t sell the products by myself and the organization was retaining a percentage of our sales.

We were right!

     Luckily, thanks to Takamichi Suzukawa, we could talk with Mr. Pen before the event, who gave us a space in the stand reserved to Spain.

The fair
Sat 22, the very morning. We departed from the hotel — the Keio Plaza Intercontinental, located in the core of Shinjuku — heading for Chiba. The MSX World Expo was to take place in the CIT — Chiba Institute of Technology —, which was also celebrating its annual party.

     The entrance was crowded with students offering meals, T-shirts and other ‘handcrafted goods’ typically found in this kind of events. The expo was being held at classroom 652. It was built to show non-MSX people what the MSX is and how it’s spread world wide. So the fair concept was more of a true expo than a user meeting. And it was nicely organised.

     The room was divided in five sections: amusement corner, international corner, game corner, repair corner and sales corner. Of course the admission was free.

UP’S, performing...

What could be seen
Just a step into the room and there was a funny character, UP’S, surrounded with an army of synths & drum machines and performing his own musical manoeuvres. The show was backed up with MSX turbo R animated video footage shot thru an LCD projector. Every now and then a Gigamix showman whas popping up with a Quiz-style game, cheering the crowd up. He was real good at it as everybody was laughing to death!

     The international corner consisted of several tables with Dutch (!) & Japanese info panels, country flags and several country-specific computer models & related items.


The robot...

The expo was headed with a couple of superb devices from Mr. Pen’s private collection: a red HB-101P and a slot-mouthed robot: its mouth accepts a programmable MSX cartridge and it performs all displacement actions absolutely off the computer.

     Next, an Arabian MSX with an Arabian keyboard running a shocking — and Arabian as well — holy Koran cartridge.

     Then in the corner, a Korean stand, with three MSX-compatible consoles from Daewoo. Astonishing design, just like crazy SCI-FI flick spaceships.

     Next we found various fanzine format press, like Popipu, MCCM and our Hnostar, which linked with the Spain stand, where Matra was placed, exposing and tempting people to play Sex Bomb Bunny and SaveR’s Kaotika. We asked Manuel Pazos to present some Sonyc copies but unfortunately they never reached Japan due to post service problems.


The slotexpander...

Then it was the Dutch stand, where several demos were played and a Japanese (!) slot expander was shown.

     In the other corner there was the Brazil stand, featuring a MSX turbo R linked to another slot expander and a cd-rom which was playing EVAs with Evangelion musics & Ace of Base’s ‘Happy Nation’.

     Finally there was the Japan stand. It was not the usual product avalanche overkill but just two bare computers showing Gigamix’s Magical Labyrinth Remix — see Hnostar 42 — and a mobile phone which was supposed to be connected to a BBS.

Other things
On the central zone there was the amusement area where you could test the games available on the sales stand. First it was Pleasure Hearts, a horizontal scrolling shoot’em-up, and Zone Terra, another shoot’em-up but with vertical scroll. On the rear, a couple of promos: Niwatris, a complex Tetris clone where pieces are substituted by birds — hens, chickens and the like — and an RPG which we forgot to write down the name.


The mini drum set!

Almost hidden it was the repair corner, where we believe no equipment was actually repaired, as it looked like a kind of a scrapyard, judging by the condition of the machines lying around there. Close to this area, possibly the best of the expo: the most impressive thing I’ve seen for years: a true mini drum set played from a tracker’s drum channel. A striker-driven device triggered by a MSX turbo R.

     The usual wintel brick emulators, and a SEGA Saturn playing Konami’s Collection cd were also around here.

Sales stand
Stretching all over the room it was the sales stand, with several and oddly priced products:

Productdescriptionprice (in ¥)
Syntax’s NV’sdisk fanzine800-1000
Orange Headsmusic compilations1500
T-shirts with Den Yu Land imagery1:144 SCALE’ & the best ‘SYNTAX ERROR IN 20003000-5000
ESE-Factory’s MegaSCSI256 kB and 1 MB versions (S.T.A.R. bought one of the latter)20000 and 35000, resp.
Eurolink #4European diskmagazine800
Heartfulanother music cd500, tape 300
Sex Bomb Bunny & MSX-E-MATfrom Matra, of course!?
Pleasure Hearts 1500
Zone Terraancient game by Quadrivium800
DM SYSTEM technical handbook 2 2500
MSX’99 calendar 500

Syntax error in 2000

     And then it was the surprising MSX Magazine #1 (800¥). This magazine is edited by Syntax with actual brand/logo permissions from ASCII Corp.

     Essentially, that was the expo all over. After the first day there was a debate about the role of ASCII in MSX history/future, and the second day a summary of the fair and a little statement on what it was called: the revival of the survivor.

Summing up, an unexpected fair concept, more aimed towards the non-MSX public than to the real user. A good initiative to show people what’s the MSX about, making good use of the institute annual party. The best: without doubt the Japanese behaviour. At first they glanced at us distrustfully, but second day, after continuous speech and opinion sharing — thanks to real time translators Bernand, Herve, Takamichi & Ikeda —, they understood Matra is something more than just a visitor group, something bigger than it seems, with ideas and proposals that many people liked and accepted enthusiastically.

     S.T.A.R.’s exquisite behaviour, with his innate honour and relationship skills, was definitely a major score. The deals arranged with Imahi from Sintax, the bizcards swapping, the present offering and tokens of gratitude expressed by the Matra agent were reflected by all the presents.

     Worst: not that bad, but it was shocking that the organisation was retaining a 10% of the sales profits for a task we could manage ourselves, perhaps — and just perhaps — better than them. And of course, the lack of attention from the organisation to all the messages sent by Matra to confirm assistance. That however has a logical explanation: they don’t speak English, so all our messages were hardly understandable for them.

     Credits and greetings are not included as I don’t want to forget a single person, address or web page. We sincerely thank all those who were there. More pictures are in [1] and [2]

Linking a TI-83 to an MSX
MSX Computer & Club Webmagazine
issue 91, January/February 2000
MSX-Kanji revealed