FM Towns.. the Japanese Beast

Submitted by binaryvalue on Fri, 06/17/2022 - 15:04
FM Towns

Manufactured by Fujitsu from early 1989 to 1997, FM Towns is a Japanese multimedia computer based on x86 Intel CPUs and a CD-ROM drive. The computer offered a 24-bit color palette, hardware graphics, and sound capabilities similar to arcade systems.

  • About 500,000 FM Towns were ever sold
  • The initial price was 338,000 yen (something like $3,000 in today’s money)
  • "FM" means Fujitsu Micro
  • Started as a proprietary PC variant (some PC compatibility)

glanceFM TOWNS AT A GLANCE

  • FM Towns Advert
    FM Towns Japanese Advertisement
    The operating system is the Towns OS (based on MS-DOS), and Windows 3.0/3.1/95
  • 80386SX (16 MHz) to 486DX4 (100 MHz) CPUs and up to Pentium (Socket5/120 MHz)
  • One of the first computers in the world to be equipped with a CD-ROM drive
  • Fully-supporting multimedia applications and featuring arcade-perfect video games
  • Stereo PCM sound (Ricoh RF5c68 & Yamaha YM2612)
  • 1 MB to 6 MB of RAM
  • Up to 32,768 colors on screen from a 16.7 million color palette (24-bit)
  • 320×200 to 720×512 pixels video modes
  • 640 KB of total video RAM (512 KB VRAM and 128 KB sprite RAM)
  • PCMCIA card (can accommodate memory cards, modems, printers, etc.)

The Older Fujitsu FM R series

  • Released in 1987, the Fujitsu FM R series was based too on Intel CPUs and MS-DOS V3.1.

graphics Graphics & Modes

The FM Towns featured advanced video graphics for its time:

  • 16 to 32,768 simultaneous colors from a 16 million color palette (24-bit)
  • 320×200 to 720×512 pixels video modes
  • Up to two graphical layers can be overlaid
  • 640 KB of total video RAM (512 KB VRAM and 128 KB sprite RAM)
  • Up to 1,024 sprites (16×16 pixels each)

sound Sound Capabilities

The FM Towns offers quite impressive sound capabilities. Note, that the built-in Ricoh RF5c68 sound chip is also found in Sega's System 18/32 arcade system boards.

  • 8-bit to 10-bit audio bit depth
  • 8 PCM voices based on the Ricoh RF5c68 sound chip (19.6 kHz)
  • 6 FM channels based on the Yamaha YM2612 sound chip
  • Can play regular audio CDs
  • Microphone (in the front)

OS IconOperating system & Software

The FM Towns offered Towns OS, based on MS-DOS plus Ms. Windows. There was some compatibility with classic PCs and the earlier Fujitsu FM R, and that meant access to business software such as Lotus 1-2-3, dBASE III, and WordStar.

  • FM Towns OS
    The FM Towns offered Towns OS, based on MS-DOS, plus Ms. Windows...
    The operating system was Towns OS, based on MS-DOS, plus Windows 3.0/3.1/95
  • The FM Towns was capable of starting its GUI straight from CD, before any other CD-ROM-based computer system
  • Some compatibility with classic PCs by using a special version of DOS and DOS Extender
  • Linux has also been ported to the FM Towns (Debian and Gentoo)

variants FM Towns Variants

Several FM Towns variants were built by Fujitsu:

  • FM TOWNS (model1/model2)

The original FM TOWNS (model1/model2) was based on an 80386SX CPU running at 16 MHz, 1/2 MB of RAM (with a possible maximum of 6 MB), and a single-speed CD-ROM drive. There were also two 3.5" floppy disk drives and a PCMCIA memory card slot. The computer was bundled with a mouse, gamepad, and a microphone.

  • Other models used 486DX4 (100 MHz) CPUs and up to Pentium (Socket5/120 MHz)
  • FM Towns Marty was a game console version of the system, released in 1993. It sold around 45,000 in 1993

 

Fujitsu FM Towns

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