From NEC Retro

Manufacturer: NEC
Release Date RRP Code


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The PC-8001 is a home microcomputer released by NEC in 1979. It was the company's first attempt at producing a fully assembled computer, following the relative success of the TK-80 earlier in the decade, and the first machine in the PC-8000 series of hardware.

While not the first (non-kit) Japanese home computer to go on sale (having been beaten to market by both the Basic Master by Hitachi and the MZ-80K by Sharp in 1978), it was a more successful machine than both in its home market, and, being priced significantly lower than imported machines from Apple and Commodore, started would what be NEC's dominance in the Japanese computer market.


In 1979, the PC-8001 was only equipped with 16KB of RAM, with most of its games requiring an upgrade to 32KB. To achieve this, users were forced to purcahse a PC-8012 "I/O unit", which allows for the installation of RAM cards, although later revisions of the computer shipped with 32KB RAM as standard.

In its default configuration, the PC-8001 cannot display "graphics", just text characters from a pre-defined set in one of eight colours. However, The provided character set has blocks of various widths and heights, which if used can simulate a 160x100 pixel display (commonly referred to as "pseudo-graphics"). As such, software written for the system had to be inventive; it was only with the release of third-party add-ons, most notably the PCG 8100, which allowed for more complex visuals.

The PC-8001 has minimal sound hardware, consisting solely of an internal "beeper".

The successors to the PC-8001, the PC-8001 mkII and PC-8001 mkII SR would introduce dedicated graphics modes which were more suitable for use cases such as video games.

The PC-8001 was also sold in the US as the PC-8001A, with 32KB of RAM as standard.

Technical specifications

  • CPU: μPD780C-1 clocked at 4MHz
  • ROM: 24KB
  • RAM: 16KB (upgradable to 32KB)
  • Graphics:
    • Text mode: 80 characters, 25 lines maximum
    • 160x100, 8 colour "psuedo-graphics"
  • Audio: Beeper

List of games

Promotional material


PC-8000 series hardware
PC-8001 (1979) | PC-8001 mkII (1983) | PC-8001 mkII SR (1985)
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