X68000

Last updated
X68000
Logo X68000.png
X68000ACE-HD.JPG
X68000ACE-HD
Developer Sharp Corporation
Manufacturer Sharp Corporation
Type Video game console
Home computer
Release date1987
Lifespan1987-1996
Discontinued1996
Media Floppy disk
Operating system Human68k, NetBSD, OS-9
CPU Motorola 68000 family
Memory1 to 12 MB of RAM
Display14" CRT
256x256 to 1024x1024 pixels
16 bits
GraphicsVINAS 1 + 2, VSOP, CYNTHIA / Jr, RESERVE
Sound Yamaha YM2151
OKI MSM6258
Controller inputD-pad, Keyboard, Mouse
Power100V AC 50/60 Hz
Predecessor X1
Main processor board of original 1987 CZ-600C model Sharp X68000 Computer Main Processor Board.JPG
Main processor board of original 1987 CZ-600C model
Video board of original 1987 CZ-600C model Sharp X68000 Computer Video Board.JPG
Video board of original 1987 CZ-600C model
Cynthia sprite chip in the original 1987 CZ-600C model Cynthia Chipset in the Sharp X68000 Computer.jpg
Cynthia sprite chip in the original 1987 CZ-600C model
VSOP Video processing chip in the original 1987 CZ-600C model VSOP Chipset in the Sharp X68000 Computer.jpg
VSOP Video processing chip in the original 1987 CZ-600C model

The X68000 (Japanese: エックス ろくまんはっせん, Hepburn: Ekkusu Rokuman Hassen) is a home computer created by Sharp Corporation. It was first released in 1987 and sold only in Japan.

Contents

The initial model has a 10 MHz Motorola 68000 CPU, 1 MB of RAM, and lacks a hard drive. The final model was released in 1993 with a 25 MHz Motorola 68030 CPU, 4 MB of RAM, and optional 80 MB SCSI hard drive. RAM in these systems is expandable to 12 MB, though most games and applications do not require more than 2 MB.

The X68000 has graphics hardware similar to arcade video games of the late-1980s, with custom coprocessors supporting scrolling, tiled backgrounds, and large numbers of sprites. Sound is supplied through multiple sound chips supporting 8 channels of FM synthesis and one channel of adaptive differential pulse-code modulation audio, which are mixed down to 2 analog stereo channels via a DAC chip. As such, video gaming was a major use of the X68000.

Operating system

The X68k runs an operating system called Human68k which was developed for Sharp by Hudson Soft. An MS-DOS-workalike, Human68k features English-based commands very similar to those in MS-DOS; executable files have the extension .X. Versions of the OS prior to 2.0 have command line output only for common utilities like "format" and "switch", while later versions included forms-based versions of these utilities. At least three major versions of the OS were released, with several updates in between.

Early models have a GUI called "VS" or "Visual Shell"; later ones were originally packaged with SX-WINDOW. A third GUI called Ko-Window exists with an interface similar to Motif. These GUI shells can be booted from floppy disk or the system's hard drive. Most games also boot and run from floppy disk; some are hard disk installable and others require hard disk installation.

Since the system's release, software such as Human68k itself, console, SX-Window C compiler suites, and BIOS ROMs have been released as public domain software and are freely available for download. [1] Other operating systems available include OS-9 and NetBSD for X68030. [2] [3]

Case design

The X68000 features two soft-eject 5.25-inch floppy drives, or in the compact models, two 3.5-inch floppy drives, and a very distinctive case design of two connected towers, divided by a retractable carrying handle. This system was also one of the first to feature a software-controlled power switch; pressing the switch would signal the system's software to save and shutdown, similar to the ATX design of modern PCs. The screen would fade to black and sound would fade to silence before the system turned off.

The system's keyboard has a mouse port built into either side. The front of the computer has a headphone jack, volume control, joystick, keyboard and mouse ports. The top has a retractable carrying handle only on non-Compact models, a reset button, and a non-maskable interrupt (NMI) button. The rear has a variety of ports, including stereoscopic output for 3D goggles, FDD and HDD expansion ports, and I/O board expansion slots.

Display

The monitor supports horizontal scanning rates of 15, 24, and 31 kHz and functions as a cable-ready television (NTSC-J standard) with composite video input. It was a high quality monitor for playing JAMMA-compatible arcade boards due to its analog RGB input and support for all three horizontal scanning rates used with arcade games.

Disk I/O

Early machines use the rare Shugart Associates System Interface (SASI) for the hard disk interface; later versions adopted the industry-standard Small Computer System Interface (SCSI). Per the hardware's capability, formatted SASI drives can be 10, 20 or 40 MB in size and can be logically partitioned as well.

Human68K does not support the VFAT long filenames standard of modern Windows systems, but it supports 18.3 character filenames instead of the 8.3 character filenames allowed in the FAT filesystem. By default, Human68K will not consider any additional characters beyond the first 8 without the use of a special driver, therefore files and folders that are named the same when viewed through a 8.3 filename but different when viewed through a 18.3 filename will be considered the same. Human68K is case sensitive and allows lower case and Shift JIS encoded Kanji characters in filenames, both of which cause serious problems when a DOS system tries to read such a directory. If a X68000 user restricts themselves to use only filenames according to the 8.3 characters scheme of DOS, using only Latin upper case characters, then a disk written on the X68000 is fully compatible with other Japanese standard platforms like e.g. the NEC PC-9800, the Fujitsu FMR and FM Towns computers. The Japanese standard disk format used by the X68000 is: 77 tracks, 2 heads, 8 sectors, 1024 bytes per sector, 360 rpm (1232 KiB).

Expansion

Many add-on cards were released for the system, including networking (Neptune-X), SCSI, memory upgrades, CPU enhancements (JUPITER-X 68040/060 accelerator), and MIDI I/O boards. The system has two joystick ports, both 9-pin male and supporting Atari standard joysticks and MSX controllers. Capcom produced a converter that was originally sold packaged with the X68000 version of Street Fighter II that allowed users to plug in a Super Famicom or Mega Drive controller into the system. The adapter was made specifically so that users could plug in the Capcom Power Stick Fighter controller into the system.

Home arcade

In terms of hardware, the X68K was very similar to arcade machines of the time, and served as the Capcom CPS system development machine. It supports separate text RAM, graphic RAM and hardware sprites. Sound is produced internally via Yamaha's then top-of-the-line YM2151 FM synthesizer and a single channel OKI MSM6258V for PCM. Due to this and other similarities, it played host to many arcade game ports in its day. Games made for this system include Parodius Da! -Shinwa kara Owarai e- , Ghouls 'n Ghosts , Strider , Final Fight , Alien Syndrome , Street Fighter II: Champion Edition , Akumajo Dracula (Castlevania in other regions, the X68000 version was ported to the PlayStation as Castlevania Chronicles ), Cho Ren Sha 68k (which has a Windows port) and many others. Many games also supported the Roland SC-55 and MT-32 MIDI modules for sound as well as mixed-mode internal/external output.

List of X68000 series

Release Datemodel namemodel number CPU bodymemoryExpansion I/O slot FDD HDD Bundle software
colorshape SASI SCSI size
1987/03X68000CZ-600CHitachi HD68HC000 10 MHz (Motorola 68000 clone)Gray/BlackTower1 MB25¼ ×2o-- Human68k ver1.0 (OS)
Gradius (Game)
1988/03X68000 ACECZ-601CHitachi HD68HC000 10 MHzGray/BlackTower1 MB25¼ ×2o--Human68k ver1.01
X68000 ACE-HDCZ-611C20 MB
1989/03X68000 EXPERTCZ-602CHitachi HD68HC000 10 MHzGray/BlackTower2 MB25¼ ×2o--Human68k ver2.0
X68000 EXPERT-HDCZ-612C40 MB
X68000 PROCZ-652CHitachi HD68HC000 10 MHzGray/BlackHorizontal1 MB45¼ ×2o--Human68k ver2.0
X68000 PRO-HDCZ-662C40 MB
1990/03X68000 EXPERT IICZ-603CHitachi HD68HC000 10 MHzGray/BlackTower2 MB25¼ ×2o--Human68k ver2.0
SX-Window ver2.0
X68000 EXPERT II-HDCZ-613C40 MB
1990/04X68000 PRO IICZ-653CHitachi HD68HC000 10 MHzGray/BlackHorizontal1 MB45¼ ×2o--Human68k ver2.0
SX-Window ver2.0
X68000 PRO II-HDCZ-663C40 MB
1990/06X68000 SUPER-HDCZ-623CHitachi HD68HC000 10 MHzTitan BlackTower2 MB25¼ ×2-o80 MBHuman68k ver2.01
SX-Window ver2.0
1991/01X68000 SUPERCZ-604C-
1991/05X68000 XVICZ-634CMotorola 68000 16 MHzTitan BlackTower2 MB25¼ ×2-o-Human68k ver2.02
SX-Window ver2.0
X68000 XVI-HDCZ-644C80 MB
1992/02X68000 CompactCZ-674CMotorola 68000 16 MHzGraymini Tower2 MB23½ ×2-o-Human68k ver2.03
SX-Window ver2.0
1993/03X68030CZ-500Motorola MC68EC030 25 MHzTitan BlackTower4 MB25¼ ×2-o-Human68k ver3.0
SX-Window ver3.0
X68030-HDCZ-51080 MB
1993/05X68030 CompactCZ-300Motorola MC68EC030 25 MHzTitan Blackmini Tower4 MB23½ ×2-o-Human68k ver3.02
SX-Window ver3.0
X68030 Compact-HDCZ-31080 MB
(Cancelled)Power X (provisional name)CZ-xxxxIBM PowerPC 601 66 MHzTitan BlackTower8 MB2unknown-o240 MBSX-Window ver4.0

List of X68000 games

Technical specifications

Processors

Memory

Graphics

Other specifications

Optional upgrades

Legacy

In 2022, ZUIKI Inc. revealed a teaser for a new mini console called the X68000 Z, a miniaturized version of the X68000. [17] [18]

See also

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