The turbo button that wasn’t

Our Mini-Ren-Sha Turbofirst computer was an MSX-2 computer. At that time hobby computers were highly popular and in the computer market then, these MSX computers heavily competed with other computers like the Atari 520/1040 and the Amiga 500/1000. At a certain time, the MSX-2 standard lost its appeal: A major software producer dropped its support for the MSX, to focus on another emerging computer technology. Other US and European companies quickly followed suit, eventually drying out support for a new MSX standard that was going to be built around a new processor, the Z-800.

In the mean time, Japanese companies came up with an interim solution: A new MSX computer with a better graphics processor and a half-way-in-between better processor than the one that originally drove the computer. The new standard? It was half-heartedly called the MSX-2+.

At that stage, we (Alfons and I) lost interest in the MSX computers: many rumours were spread about the capabilities of this new MSX computer, particularly focussing on something shown on a picture of an early (demo) model: the words Ren-Sha Turbo. Rumour has it that it was a processor speed switch. The first ever. Ever. Ever?

We learned about the actual functionality of this button around the time we decided to spend our well-earned money on our first PC (an actual 286 AT!): this Ren-Sha thing was nothing but an auto-fire switch for a joystick, connected to one of the computer’s joystick ports. The more the slider was set to maximum, the faster the fire-button of the joystick!

Quite an invention, but not good enough.

So, what’s the purpose of releasing a half-in-between-old-and-new piece of technology and charge a lot for it? To make money out of something that’s going to be doomed and short-lived. We knew right away, and (luckily) we never looked back again. The good thing is that, the switch to PCs was actually easier because of the level of compatibility between the MSX’s and PC’s operating system. One was MSX-DOS, the other was PC-DOS and both were made by Microsoft.

The moral of the story is, that in this computerworld there’s a golden rule: if an item accompanied with many colourful features sporting hot abbreviations, gets dumped on the market, chances are that you’re buying into hot air.

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