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Developer Sharp Corporation
Manufacturer Sharp Corporation
Generation Fourth generation
Release date 1987 (1987)
Operating system Human68k, NetBSD, OS-9
Sound Yamaha YM2151
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 (X68000 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 two.

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-Windows 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 and are freely available for download.

Case design[edit]

The X68000 features two soft-eject 5.25 in (133 mm) floppy drives, or in some of the compact models, two 3.5 in (89 mm) floppy drives, and a very distinct 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, it is very similar to arcade machines of the time, and serves 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]

  • CPU / Clock speed:
X68000 models: Motorola 68000 / 10 MHz
XVI models: Motorola 68000 / 16 MHz
X68030 models: Motorola 68030 / 25 MHz
  • ROM: 1 MiB (128KB BIOS,768KB Character Generator)
  • RAM: 1-4 MiB (Expandable up to 12 MB)
  • VRAM: 512 KiB graphic + 512 KiB text + 32 KiB sprite VRAM
  • SRAM: 16 KiB Static RAM
  • Screen resolutions:
256 × 240
256 × 256
512 × 240
512 × 256
512 × 512
640 × 480
768 × 512
1024 × 1024
  • Maximum colors on screen: 65536 (in 512 x 512 resolutions)
  • Max colors with highest resolution (1024 x 1024): 16 colors
  • Sprite count: 128 sprites, 32 sprites per scanline
  • Sprite size: 16 × 16
  • Sprite colors: 16 colors per palette, selectable from 16 palettes
  • BG plane resolutions: 256 × 256 or 512 × 512
  • BG chip size: 8 × 8 or 16 × 16
  • Graphics hardware: Hardware scrolling, priority control, super-impose
  • Sound chips:
Yamaha YM2151 (eight FM synthesis channels)
OKI MSM6258 (one 4-bit ADPCM mono channel)
  • 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 drive: 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)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]