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Yamaha CX5M computer

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  • Yamaha CX5M computer

    The Yamaha CX5M (or more precisely the CX5ME for the UK spec model) was a computer more likely to be sold in a musical instrument shop rather than a computer shop, and more likely to be owned by a music teacher rather than an ICT teacher.

    Yamaha was a well known name in the world of musical instruments back in the early 1980s, but the company had no presence in the computer industry. Following the launch of the MSX format in 1983, they decided to jump on the MSX bandwagon and develop computers targeted at music and sound production.

    The CX5M range were the international versions of the Japanese CX5F. An MSX1 computer - so did everything every other MSX1 computer could do - with a side slot for an FM Sound Synthesizer Module which replaced the second cartridge slot.

    The Yamaha SFG-01 Sound Synthesizer Module was sold with the CX5M. This provided a high quality stereo sound output, a MIDI port, and a connector for a Yamaha music keyboard. The module was built around the YM2151 OPM sound chip, and a YM3012 stereo digital to analogue converter chip, both of which were used in dedicated music synthesizers. A few years later Yamaha released the SFG-05 Sound Synthesizer Module with additional features, including full MIDI input and output.

    Yamaha music keyboards in various sizes that connected to the Sound Synthesizer Module were available as aftermarket accessories.

    A music software package was contained in a ROM chip inside the Sound Synthesizer Module. It loaded instantly by typing CALL MUSIC from the BASIC prompt. Yamaha also produced a range of additional music cartridges including a voice editor; a music composer, which enabled the user to program a bank of 48 sounds and sequence up to 8 channels of music; and a MIDI recorder, which enabled the computer to control an external musical instrument connected to the MIDI port.

    Third party music software was also available, and users could easily program the Sound Synthesizer Module from BASIC. As the CX5M was MSX compatible it could run any software produced for the MSX including games and business apps.

    The CX5ME was priced around 500 in 1985 and was the most expensive MSX machine officially sold in Britain. A monitor and a floppy drive were extra. Not exactly cheap but for anybody who wanted both a synthesizer and a computer it may have been the least expensive option at the time.

    The CX5MU and its successor the CX5MIIU were the only MSX computers officially sold in the US. They were sold almost exclusively through musical instrument shops and considered to be a programmable musical instrument rather than a computer.