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Developer Sharp Corporation
Manufacturer Sharp Corporation
Type Home video game console
Home computer
Generation Fourth generation
Release date March, 1987 (1987)
Media Floppy disk
Operating system Human68k, NetBSD, OS-9
CPU Motorola 68000 family
Sound Yamaha YM2151
Controller input D-pad, Keyboard, Mouse
Predecessor X1
Sharp X68000 Computer Main Processor Board. Original 1987 CZ-600C model
Sharp X68000 Computer Video Board. Original 1987 CZ-600C model
Cynthia Video Sprite Chipset in the Sharp X68000 Computer. Original 1987 CZ-600C model
VSOP Video Processing Chipset in the Sharp X68000 Computer. 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, first released in 1987, sold only in Japan.

The first model features a 10 MHz Motorola 68000 CPU (hence the name), 1 MB of RAM, and no hard drive; the last 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.

Operating system[edit]

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. Other operating systems available include NetBSD for X68030 and OS-9.

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, console, SX-Window C compiler suites, and BIOS ROMs have been released as public domain software and are freely available for download.

Case design[edit]

The X68000 features two soft-eject 5.25in floppy drives, or in some of the compact models, two 3.5in 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.


The monitor supports 15/24 and 31 kHz with up to 65,535 colors and functions as a cable-ready television (NTSC-J standard) with composite video input. It was an excellent monitor for playing JAMMA compatible arcade boards due to its analog RGB input and standard-resolution refresh timing.

Disk I/O[edit]

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 30 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. 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 himself 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).


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[edit]

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 Dash, 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[edit]

Release Date model name model number CPU body memory Expansion I/O slot FDD HDD Bundle software
color shape SASI SCSI size
1987/03 X68000 CZ-600C Hitachi HD68HC000 10 MHz (Motorola 68000 clone) Gray/Black Tower 1MB 2 5 14 x2 o - - Human68k ver1.0 (OS)
Gradius (Game)
1988/03 X68000 ACE CZ-601C Hitachi HD68HC000 10 MHz Gray/Black Tower 1MB 2 5 14 x2 o - - Human68k ver1.01
X68000 ACE-HD CZ-611C 20MB
1989/03 X68000 EXPERT CZ-602C Hitachi HD68HC000 10 MHz Gray/Black Tower 2MB 2 5 14 x2 o - - Human68k ver2.0
X68000 EXPERT-HD CZ-612C 40MB
X68000 PRO CZ-652C Hitachi HD68HC000 10 MHz Gray/Black Horizontal 1MB 4 5 14 x2 o - - Human68k ver2.0
X68000 PRO-HD CZ-662C 40MB
1990/03 X68000 EXPERT II CZ-603C Hitachi HD68HC000 10 MHz Gray/Black Tower 2MB 2 5 14 x2 o - - Human68k ver2.0
SX-Window ver2.0
X68000 EXPERT II-HD CZ-613C 40MB
1990/04 X68000 PRO II CZ-653C Hitachi HD68HC000 10 MHz Gray/Black Horizontal 1MB 4 5 14 x2 o - - Human68k ver2.0
SX-Window ver2.0
X68000 PRO II-HD CZ-663C 40MB
1990/06 X68000 SUPER-HD CZ-623C Hitachi HD68HC000 10 MHz Titan Black Tower 2MB 2 5 14 x2 - o 80MB Human68k ver2.01
SX-Window ver2.0
1991/01 X68000 SUPER CZ-604C -
1991/05 X68000 XVI CZ-634C Motorola 68000 16 MHz Titan Black Tower 2MB 2 5 14 x2 - o - Human68k ver2.02
SX-Window ver2.0
X68000 XVI-HD CZ-644C 80MB
1992/02 X68000 Compact CZ-674C Motorola 68000 16 MHz Gray mini Tower 2MB 2 3 12 x2 - o - Human68k ver2.03
SX-Window ver2.0
1993/03 X68030 CZ-500 Motorola MC68EC030 25 MHz Titan Black Tower 4MB 2 5 14 x2 - o - Human68k ver3.0
SX-Window ver3.0
X68030-HD CZ-510 80MB
1993/05 X68030 Compact CZ-300 Motorola MC68EC030 25 MHz Titan Black mini Tower 4MB 2 3 12 x2 - o - Human68k ver3.02
SX-Window ver3.0
X68030 Compact-HD CZ-310 80MB
(Cancelled) Power X (provisional name) CZ-xxxx IBM PowerPC 601 66 MHz Titan Black Tower 8MB 2 unknown - o 240MB SX-Window ver4.0

List of X68000 games[edit]

Technical specifications[edit]



  • ROM: 1 MB (128 KB BIOS, 768 KB Character Generator)
  • Main RAM: 1-4 MB (expandable up to 12 MB)
  • VRAM: 1056 KB
    • 512 KB graphics
    • 512 KB text
    • 32 KB sprites
  • SRAM: 16 KB static RAM


  • Color palette: 65,536[1] (16-bit RGB high color depth)[6]
  • Maximum colors on screen: 65,536 (in 512×512 resolution)
  • Screen resolutions (all out of 65,536 color palette)[4][6]
    • 256×240 pixels @ 16 to 65,536 colors
    • 256×256 pixels @ 16 to 65,536 colors
    • 512×240 pixels @ 16 to 65,536 colors
    • 512×256 pixels @ 16 to 65,536 colors
    • 512×512 pixels @ 16 to 65,536 colors
    • 640×480 pixels @ 16 to 64 colors
    • 768×512 pixels @ 16 to 64 colors
    • 1024×1024 pixels @ 16 to 64 colors
  • Graphics hardware: Hardware scrolling, priority control, super-impose, dual tilemap background layers,[4] sprite flipping[6]
  • Graphical planes: 1-4 bitmap planes, 1-2 tilemap planes, 1 sprite plane[6][7]
    • Bitmap planes[1][6]
      • 1 layer: 512×512 resolution @ 65,536 colors on screen, or 1024×1024 resolution @ 64 colors on screen (out of 65,536 color palette)
      • 2 layers: 512×512 resolution @ 256 colors on screen per layer (512 colors combined) (out of 65,536 color palette)
      • 4 layers: 512×512 resolution @ 16 colors on screen per layer (64 colors combined) (out of 65,536 color palette)
    • BG tilemap planes[6][7]
      • BG plane resolutions: 256×256 (2 layers) or 512×512 (1 layer)
      • BG chip/tile size: 8×8 or 16×16
      • Colors per BG layer: 256 (out of 65,536 color palette)
      • BG colors on screen: 256 (1 layer) or 512 (2 layers), out of 65,536 color palette
      • BG tiles on screen: 512 (16×16 tiles in 256×256 layers) to 4096 (8×8 tiles in 512×512 layer)
    • Sprite plane[1][6][7]
      • Sprite count: 128 sprites on screen, 32 sprites per scanline, 256 sprite patterns in VRAM (can be multiplied up to 512 sprites on screen with scanline raster interrupt method[8])
      • Sprite size: 16×16
      • Colors per sprite: 16 colors per palette, selectable from 16 palettes (out of 65,536 color palette)
      • Sprite colors on screen: 256 (out of 65,536 color palette)
      • Sprite tile size: 8×8 or 16×16
      • Sprite tile count: 128 (16×16) to 512 (8×8) on screen, 256 (16×16) to 1024 (8×8) in VRAM

Other specifications[edit]

  • Expansion: 2 card slots (4 on Pro models)
  • I/O Ports:
    • 2 MSX compatible joystick ports
    • Audio IN / OUT
    • Stereo scope/3D goggles port
    • TV/monitor Control
    • RGB/NTSC Video Image I/O
    • Expansion (2 slots)
    • External FDD (up to 2)
    • SASI/SCSI (depending on model)
    • RS232 serial port
    • Parallel port
    • Headphone and microphone ports
  • Floppy Drives:
    • Two soft-eject 5.25″ floppy drives, 1.2 MB each
    • Two 3.5″ floppy drives, 1.44 MB each (compact models)
  • Hard Disk: 20-80 MB SASI/SCSI (depending on model)
  • Operating Systems: Human68k (MS DOS-alike developed by Hudson), SX-Windows GUI
  • Power Input: AC 100V, 50/60 Hz
  • Weight: ~8 kg (~10 kg Pro)

Optional upgrades[edit]

  • Upgradable CPU:[9]
    • HARP: Motorola 68000 @ 20 MHz
    • REDZONE: Motorola 68000 @ 24 MHz
    • X68030 D'ash: Motorola 68030 @ 33 MHz
    • Xellent30: Motorola 68030 @ 40 MHz
    • HARP-FX: Motorola 68030 @ 50 MHz
    • Xellent40: Motorola 68040 @ 33 MHz
    • 060Turbo: Motorola 68060 @ 50 MHz
    • Jupiter-EX: Motorola 68060 @ 66 MHz
    • Venus-X/060: Motorola 68060 @ 75 MHz
  • Additional CPU:[9]
    • CONCERTO-X68K: NEC V30 @ 8 MHz, with 512 KB RAM
    • VDTK-X68K: NEC V70 @ 20 MHz, with 2 MB DRAM and 128 KB SRAM
  • FPU (floating point unit) coprocessor:[9][10]
    • Sharp CZ-6BP1
    • Sharp CZ-6BP2: Motorola 68881 @ 16 MHz
    • Sharp CZ-5MP1: Motorola 68882 @ 25 MHz
    • Xellent30: Motorola 68882 @ 33 MHz
    • Tsukumo TS-6BE6DE: Motorola MC68882, with 6 MB RAM
  • Sound card:[9][11]
    • Sharp CZ-6BM1: MIDI card
    • System Sacom SX-68M: MIDI card
    • System Sacom SX-68M-2: MIDI card
    • Marcury-Unit: 16-bit stereo PCM @ 48 kHz sampling rate, 2× Yamaha YMF288 FM synthesis sound chips
  • Graphics accelerator & sound card: Tsukumo TS-6BGA[12][13][14]
    • Graphics chip: Cirrus Logic CL-GD5434 (1994)
    • VRAM: 2 MB (2048 KB) 64-bit DRAM
    • Color palette: 16,777,216 (24-bit RGB true color depth) and alpha channel (RGBA)
    • Maximum colors on screen: 16,777,216
    • Maximum resolution: 2048×1024 pixels
    • Screen resolutions (all out of 16,777,216 color palette)
      • 768×512 pixels @ 32,768 to 16,777,216 colors
      • 800×600 pixels @ 32,768 to 16,777,216 colors
      • 1024×512 pixels @ 32,768 to 16,777,216 colors
      • 1024×768 pixels @ 32,768 to 16,777,216 colors
      • 1024×1024 pixels @ 32,768 colors
      • 1280×1024 pixels @ 256 colors
      • 2048×1024 pixels @ 256 colors
    • Graphical capabilities: 64-bit GUI acceleration, blitter, bit blit
    • Audio capabilities: 16-bit stereo PCM @ 48 kHz sampling rate
  • Hard disk drive storage:[10]
    • Sharp CZ-5H08: 80 MB
    • Sharp CZ-68H: 81 MB
    • Sharp CZ-5H16: 160 MB

See also[edit]


External links[edit]