Yamaha CX5M

The Yamaha CX5M is actually an MSX computer but with a built in Yamaha FM Sound module.

The MSX is basically the precursor to today’s modern PC’s. The idea behind them was that rather than launching a computer like the ZX Spectrum which had its own software and hardware, they would launch a set of standards that all MSX computers would need to comply too.

This then meant that multiple hardware manufacturers could build an MSX computer for themselves, and many did. You can buy MSX computers built by many of today’s well-known hardware companies such as Sony, Toshiba, Samsung and Yamaha. The list is actually quite large! And the main company behind the MSX? You may have heard of them, they are called Microsoft!

I never heard anything about the MSX when I was younger, and it appears that they just didn’t really take off in the UK and very few were sold over here. But in other places such as Japan and Brazil, they were one of the main computers of the time.

For a while, I have wanted to get an MSX and was originally looking at the Sony versions of the computer. But then after seeing a video on YouTube about the CX5M I decided this is the one for me. Not only would I get an MSX to play with, but also a music computer so I could go back to having a mess around with MIDI and such once again.

Recently I have also purchased an MSX Flash ROM cart (MegaFlashrom) which now allows me to load MSX software off an SD Card which gives me access to pretty much the entire library of MSX software. My main reason for buying this was to get a piece of music software running called DMS Mk2. It is basically an early MIDI sequencer. I have the original cartridge for DMS1 but after seeing the Mk2 version it looked much better so I just needed to have it.

The music keyboard you see in the top photo is the Yamaha YK-10. This is basically a dumb music keyboard that just plugs directly into the CX5M so you can use it for playing music. You can also plug in a standard MIDI keyboard, but this required a bit of a modification for my CX5M.

The first version of this computer, which is what I have only shipped with the SFG-01 sounds module. This module did not support midi input so you could not plug in any other keyboard or another MIDI device. However, with a bit of soldering and programming a new EEPROM chip, I was able to upgrade the module to become the same as the SFG-05 unit which then gives the additional features and upgraded software. This was another good fun modification to do 🙂

So my journey into the MSX has only just really begun. There is a vast software collection out there that I need to look through. But from quickly loading up a few games that I am familiar with from other platforms, it is obvious that the MSX was actually a very capable machine back in its day! I really look forward to sorting through the software available and finding any hidden gems 🙂

Catalog Information

Number in collection1
Hardware ConditionExcellent
Box ConditionPoor
Modifications and AccessoriesYK-10 Keyabord, SFG-05 Upgrade, MegaflashROM+SCC 512k expansion

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