The PC-9800 is a series of 16-bit and 32-bit home computers developed by NEC and first sold in October 1982 in Japan. The line is an upgrade of the earlier PC-8800 series which debuted less than a year earlier and was sold until 2000 with over 50 different models in the series. The line was officially discontinued in 2003. The computer series primarily competed in Japan with the X68000 and FM-Towns, but the PC-9800 series was by and large the dominate architecture in Japan. However, as Windows began to dominate the PC market share, NEC eventually had no choice but to embrace Microsoft's architecture.
The first model of PC-9801 released in 1982 used an Intel 8086 CPU clocked at 5 MHz, 128 KB of RAM. By the late 1990s, the default specs were a Pentium MMX CPU at 233 MHz, and 32 MB of RAM. Storage went from 8" floppy disk drives to 5.25", 3.5" and eventually CD-ROMs, and hard drives became standard and increased in size as well.
The initial models of PC-9800 supported a graphics mode of 640x400 with the same 8-color 3-bit palette as the 8800 series. Later models increased to larger palettes until, by the end of the series line, the computers were being shipped with 3D accelerators.
The first PC-9800 model used a PC speaker, and a soundcard with an OPN was sold shortly thereafter. By 1991, soundcards with an OPNA were being sold. Roland and Creative Labs also sold products for the system, and later models had built-in sound cards.
All through my childhood, I had no idea the PC-9800 series even existed since they made little appearance outside of Japan. In my 20s, I started seeing screenshots of the system on MobyGames in the form of ports of some of my favorite games. This piqued my interest, and I began looking into the interesting history of home computing in Japan. I used emulators to try out a handful of the system's software, but, since it's mostly in Japanese, I haven't dwelled on it too much. I do still find it to be a charming system.
I do not own a PC-9800 computer, and I've never used one in real life.
I don't know enough about this computer series to write a useful review.
I rarely use software on the PC-9800, so I can't speak too much to it's library.
- For all games released on the PC-9800 series, see PC-9800 Games.
Although the PC-9800 series was designed primarily for business, it had a massive library of games made for it including ports of the majority of the most popular games from the 1980-1990s, and plenty of American releases translated into Japanese. However, the PC-9800 wasn't just a platform for ports, a lot of popular games made their debut on it including most of the first Touhou Project games, Policenauts, and many others. The platform was also notorious of making pornographic dating sims.