PC-8800 series

The , commonly shortened to PC-88, are a brand of Zilog Z80-based 8-bit home computers released by Nippon Electric Company (NEC) in 1981 and primarily sold in Japan.

The PC-8800 series sold extremely well and became one of the three major Japanese home computers of the 1980s, along with the Fujitsu FM-7 and Sharp X1. It was later eclipsed by NEC's 16-bit PC-9800 series, although it still maintained strong sales up until the early 90s.

NEC's American subsidiary, NEC Home Electronics (USA), marketed variations of the PC-8800 in the United States.


Nippon Electric's Electronic Device Sales division launched the PC-8001 in September 1979, and by 1981 it dominated 40% of the Japanese personal computer market. At that time, Japanese personal computers were mostly used by hobbyists. The division introduced the PC-8801 in November 1981, and intended to expand the personal computer market into the business world.

The PC-8801 was capable of displaying Kanji characters via an optional Kanji ROM board. Various companies released Japanese word processor software for the machine, such as , , and . NEC themselves released which was a rebranded version of Yukara, but it was not a success. In addition to office software, companies like Enix and Koei released many popular games for the system, establishing the PC-8801 as a strong gaming platform. By November 1983, the PC-8801 had shipped 170,000 units. The PC-8801's direct successor, the PC-8801mkII, came with a JIS level 1 kanji font ROM, a smaller case and keyboard, and, in the models 20 and 30, one or two internal 5¼-inch 2D floppy disk drives. This set of PC-8800 computers sold more units than the PC-9800 series at that time.

By December of 1983, NEC had multiple personal computer lines coming out from different divisions. Nippon Electric's Information Processing group had the PC-9800 series, and NEC Home Electronics had the PC-6000 series. To avoid confliction, NEC decided to consolidate their personal computer business into two divisions; the NEC Home Electronics division dealt with the 8-bit home computer line, and the Nippon Electric's Information Processing group dealt with the 16-bit personal computer line. The Electronic Device Sales division span off personal computer business into NEC Home Electronics.

In March 1985, NEC Home Electronics introduced the PC-8801mkIISR, which had improved graphics and sound capabilities. Game developers competed in quality of skills in animation and music. A cost reduced version, the PC-8801mkIIFR, shipped 60,000 units for half a year. Although the PC-9801VM shipments surpassed it, the PC-8800 series was still popular as a Japanese PC game platform until the early 1990s.



Throughout the lifetime of the PC-8800, there were four different graphics modes. They are as follows:

  • N mode: PC-8000 series compatible graphic mode
  • V1 mode: 640 × 200 8 colors, 640 × 400 2 colors
  • V2 mode: 640 × 200 8 out of 512 colors, 640 × 400 2 out of 512 colors
  • V3 mode: 640 × 200: 65536 colors, 640 × 400: 256 out of 65536 colors, 320 × 200: 65536 colors, 320 ×  400: 64 out of 65536 colors

    It's important to note that no entry in the PC-8800 series was capable of displaying all four modes.


    Early entries in the PC-8800 series used a simple internal speaker a-la the IBM PC only capable of generating simple beeps and clicks. Later models added FM-synthesis chips, allowing for much more robust audio.


    Companies that produced exclusive software for the NEC PC-8801 included Enix, Square, Sega, Nihon Falcom, Bandai, HAL Laboratory, ASCII, Pony Canyon, Technology and Entertainment Software, Wolf Team, Dempa, Champion Soft, Starcraft, Micro Cabin, PSK, and Bothtec. Certain games produced for the PC-8801 had a shared release with the MSX, such as those produced by Game Arts, ELF Corporation, and Konami. Many popular series first appeared on the NEC PC-8801, including Snatcher, Thexder, Dragon Slayer, RPG Maker, and Ys.

    Nintendo licensed Hudson Soft to port some of Nintendo's Family Computer games for the platform, including Excitebike, Balloon Fight, Tennis, Golf, and Ice Climber, as well as new editions of Mario Bros. called Mario Bros. Special and Punch Ball Mario Bros., a semi-sequel to Donkey Kong 3 titled Donkey Kong 3: Dai Gyakushū.

    The computer also had its own BASIC dialect, N88-BASIC.

    Model list