The PC-9801 was a series of desktop and laptop computers developed by NEC for the Japanese home market. The PC-9801 was released shortly after the PC-8801 series and featured technically superior hardware at greater expense. The original model ran at 640x400 resolution with an unusual 8-color display (3-bit). The first computers in the line used Intel CPUs, but in 1985, NEC tried swapping them out for their own clone chips. This didn't last, and by 1986, all CPUs were back to Intel until the end of the product line. The earliest models featured a proprietary version of NEC BASIC, later models came with a localized version of MS-DOS, then Windows 3, and finally, Windows 95 and 98.
NEC released dozens of models in the PC-9801 line, although most were just minor increases in CPU speed and various disk drive configurations. The first model used an 8086 5 MHz CPU, by the early 1990s, they came standard with a 386 16 MHz, and the last model, released in 2000, featured a Celeron 443 MHz. Several models are shown below.
|Release Date||Model||Picture||Built-In Audio||Description|
|1982-10-??||PC-9801||PC Speaker||Original release. 8086 CPU, 8 colors, option external 8" FDD.|
|1994-11-??||PC-9801 M (M, M2)||PC Speaker||8086-2 8 MHz.|
|1985-??-??||PC-9801 VF||Used an NEC CPU. Optional support of 16 colors. 2x 5.25" FDD.|
|1986-??-??||PC-9801 VX||PC Speaker, Soundcard slot||Back to Intel CPU, first 286. 1 MB RAM, 16 color now standard.|
|1988-??-??||PC-9801 RA||PC Speaker, Soundcard slot||First 386 model.|
|1991-01-??||PC-9801 DA (DA, DA2)||YM2203C OPN||386 20 MHz.|
|1992-01-??||PC-9801 FA (U2, U5, U7, FA2, FA5, FA7)||YM2608 OPNA||486SX 16 MHz.|
|1992-??-??||PC-9821||4 MB RAM, CD-ROM, 40 MB hard disk, 256 colors.|
|1993-02-??||PC-8921 Ap (M2, U2)||YM2608 OPNA||486 DX2 66 MHz.|
|1993-02-??||PC-8921 Ap2 (U7W, U8W)||YM2608 OPNA||486SX 33 MHz.|
|1994-11-07||PC-8921 Ap3 (C8W, C9W, M2, U2)||YM2608 OPNA||486DX4 100 MHz.|
|1994-??-??||PC-9821 X (Xs/U7W, Xs/C8W, Xp/U8W, Xp/C8W, Xn/U8W, Xn/C9W)||PCM only.||486DX2 66 MHz.|
|1994-07-14||PC-9821 Nd ()||PC Speaker||486SX 33 MHz.|
|1995-11-23||PC-9821 Nd2 (Ne3/5, Nd2/5, Ne3, Nd2)||PC Speaker||486DX2 50 MHz.|
|2000-??-??||PC-9821 Ra43||Celeron 443 MHz, last computer of series.|
Thousands of games were released for the platform.
Music and Sound
For the first several years of its run, each of the models of the PC-9801 came equipped with just a PC Speaker. NEC began producing sound cards for the system in 1985, and later, in 1992, they began building audio chips right onto the motherboards. Around 1994, NEC dropped the on-board audio and went back to the PC Speaker requiring users to buy a sound card for all subsequent models.
|Release Date||Company||Sound Card||Chip|