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Japanese Vintage Computer Collection


Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later; if a Japanese company made an 8-bit computer, I'm more than likely going to want to try it out. This time, I came across the Mitsubishi Multi8. It was far from a success, after the release of this, Mitsubishi chased the MSX market instead of continuing with their own unique 8-bit offerings. There was also a namesake successor, the Multi16, I don't know much about that one but it apparently wasn't compatible with the Multi8.

You probably assume I bought this from Yahoo Auctions or Mercari, but you're so wrong. This is, I believe, the first time I walked into Beep and bought a computer from Beep. I didn't buy it immediately, I saw it and thought, "hey, that price isn't bad for a collector's item at a retail store." But I went home without it. And I went back a few weeks later, had the same thought, and went back home without it again. And on the third time, I saw it and wandered around the store for about 45 minutes, hemming and hawing about whether to buy it or not and I eventually gave in on the solid logic, "this will be far from the stupidest thing I've ever done." And I was probably right!

This is the only Japanese 8-bit I've had that went with solid white. Not beige like the PC-8801, not white sandwiched between cream like the FM-7, and not white with a gigantic, interchangeable keyboard overlay like the Pasopia7, but they sought to make a basically-white computer, with a blue logo and a single blue line for accent. When I got it, the front tabs weren't really keeping the lid closed properly. I started to open it up, struggling for about ten minutes to remove the top half, when I finally found the one and only screw hidden under the cartridge cover. Its removal allowed the top to slide right off. I pushed the tabs outward, ever so gently. It doesn't feel "right", but it does stay closed somewhat better. The keyboard has a good feel and layout. Overall, it's a very handsome machine, check it out!

Beep sold this one as-is and without warranty, but they did write a note saying that it was tested to power on and display the initial BASIC screen correctly. For some reason, I made a point of asking them when they had performed this test, they went and checked, and reported that it was about three months ago. I asked if it could be tested to that extent again, they went and checked and said "no," and I predictably bought it anyway. Early 80s Japanese computers are made of sterner stuff, and it had been tested to work in the last decade, so I wasn't surprised that it still worked. But I was happy about it. Powers up, shows BASIC, and every key responds; that's a good start!

Now, this is a pretty rare machine, much more so than, for example, my Pasopia7, which itself is pretty rare. And when the computer is rare, the software is rare, and it gets absurdly expensive. For example, just a few weeks before the time of this writing, Cannonball for the Multi8 sold for over 50000 yen. Yikes! Fortunately a friend had a bit of software I could try; this Pengo clone called Ice Block and the system demo. The system demo is a pretty nice graphics display, they didn't do too much with the audio, though. The good thing is that it proved that the machine was working pretty well, being able to load over the CMT port and fill up some memory and video memory without going bonklers.


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