While the United States and European markets were ruled by companies like IBM, Commodore, Sinclair and Apple, Japan had its own hardware giants in the '80s. The MSX is a unique computer, because its name -- which could stand for Microsoft Extended Basic or Machines with Software Exchangeability -- actually applied to a number of similar systems created by Japanese companies like Toshiba and Sony.
MSX was designed to be a hardware standard and was spearheaded by Microsoft Japan's Vice President Kazuhiko Nishi. The computers used Microsoft BASIC and weren't as expensive as some other computers of the 1980s. Since the launch of MSX in 1983, the computer family has sold more than 5 million units [source: Lyon]. MSX never became a global hardware standard, but it was very successful in Japan (as some video game fans know, Metal Gear was originally released on the popular MSX before Nintendo's Famicom).