VTech Laser 500 and MSX2

Discuss computers from the Laser series, Time & Fun handhelds, etc.
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VTech Laser 500 and MSX2

Post by carlsson » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:00 am

In the Facebook group for the Laser 500 series, it was just brought to attention that the Laser 500 computer started off as a project to make a MSX2 computer but that VTech changed their mind and made a custom computer to replace the Laser/VZ series 1xx/2xx/3xx (c:a 1983 IIRC).

Read more about the MSX2 computer, only known to exist in 3 specimens: https://www.msx.org/wiki/Laser_MSX2

Now the article claims that VTech at first were looking to make a MSX1 computer but by 1986 MSX2 was more viable. Since we know almost everything about the CreatiVision (1982) and Laser 2001/Salora Manager (1984), this claim seems a little odd.

The MSX1 standard was defined in June 1983, and the first computers arrived in the fall or early 1984. Surely if VTech wanted to join, they had all opportunities to do so, instead of repackaging the CreatiVision into the Laser 2001 computer.

It was speculated that the costs for the TI chipset (VDP + PSG) would exceed the R&D and manufacturing costs for a custom chipset, perhaps if one takes eliminating the VZ series into consideration using the Motorola 6847 too. I don't know about the Laser 128, if it uses off the shelf components or a custom ASIC to generate Apple II graphics.

Another source of costs could be MSX licensing from ASCII Corporation, perhaps that was more than VTech were willing to pay. Sure they could've done like Hanimex and others did, make another ColecoVision style computer, essentially a Laser 2001 with Z80 instead of 6502, and then perhaps find a way to sneak MSX compatibility into it without it officially being compatible. I would have to investigate how much licensing costs were.
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