PC-8000 Series

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PC-8000 Series
Type Home computer
Release date 1979[1]
Operating system DISK-BASIC, CP/M
CPU NEC μPD780C (Z80 compatible) @ 4 MHz
Memory 16/32 KB

The PC-8000 series was a line of personal computers developed for the Japanese market by NEC. The PC-8001 model was also sold in the United States [2] and in the UK as the PC-8001A.[3]


The first member of the PC-8000 series, the PC-8001 went on sale September 28, 1979 for ¥168,000.[1] Its design combined the keyboard and the mainboard into a single unit. At a time when most micro-computers were sold as "semi-kits" requiring end user assembly, the fully assembled PC-8001 was a rarity in the market. Peripherals included a printer, a cassette tape storage unit, and a CRT interface. Although it is often believed to be the first domestically produced personal computer for the Japanese market, in reality it was preceded by the Hitachi Basic Master.


CPU: NEC μPD780C (Z80 compatible) running at 4 MHz

Memory: 16/32 KB

Text display: 40 columns x 20 lines - 80 columns x 25 lines

Graphic display: 160x100 pixels, 8 colors [4]

Operating system: DISK-BASIC, CP/M

BASIC interpreter: N-BASIC (Microsoft 24KB BASIC)


A higher-performance, more graphically capable revision of the PC-8001, the Mark II debuted in March 1983 for a price of 123,000 yen.

While its most obvious improvement was in its graphical capabilities, the Mark II also included an internal 5.25" floppy disk interface as well as two internal expansion slots, doing away with the need for an "expansion box" to permit upgrades. The internal BASIC was changed as well, from the 24KB N-BASIC to a 32KB "N80-BASIC" that added new conditional statements as well as graphics commands.

While the price of the PC-8001mkII was comparable with other 8-bit computer offerings at the time, its graphics were notably worse than its competitors (most likely an attempt on NEC's part to avoid competing with their own, higher-powered PC-8800 series). This led to a relative dearth of software produced for it, particularly games.


A games-oriented revision of the PC-8001mkII with significantly better graphics and sound, making its debut in January 1985 for 108,000 yen.

The mkIISR increased the frame-buffer memory from 16KB to 48KB, allowing for 640×200-pixel graphics or 320×200-pixel double-buffered graphics modes. Additionally, the primitive PC speaker was replaced by an FM synthesis audio system. Its internal BASIC was also updated to allow usage of this new hardware, as well as providing mkII and PC-8001 compatibility modes (although a significant proportion of older software would not run properly under these modes). Other changes included the change of one general-purpose expansion slot to a Kanji character ROM expansion slot, a PC-8800 series keyboard connector, and an Atari-style joystick connector.


Although handicapped by the lack of English documentation, BYTE's American reviewers concluded in January 1981 after evaluating a unit purchased in Japan that "the PC-8001 appears to be an attractive, well-planned, and well-made personal computer ... Most people who have seen our PC-8001 feel that, if it were sold in our country, it would provide strong competition for any of the color-based home computers currently being sold".[5]


  1. ^ a b Forster, Winnie (2005). The encyclopedia of consoles, handhelds & home computers 1972 - 2005. GAMEPLAN. p. 33. ISBN 3-00-015359-4. 
  2. ^ Webster, Tony (1981). Microcomputer Buyer's Guide. p. 208. 
  3. ^ "Buyer's Guide". Which Micro?: 104. April 1983. 
  4. ^ http://www.1000bit.it/ad/bro/nec/NECpc8000number2.pdf
  5. ^ Keith, Michael; Kocher, C P (January 1981). "The NEC PC-8001: A New Japanese Personal Computer". BYTE. pp. 72–88. Retrieved 18 October 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
NEC Personal Computers Succeeded by
NEC PC-6001
NEC PC-8801