Microsoft conceived the project as an attempt to create unified standards among various hardware makers of the period. They were popular mostly in Japan, and several other countries and it is difficult to estimate how many MSX computers were sold worldwide, but eventually 5 million MSX-based units were sold in Japan alone. The Metal Gear series, for example, was written for MSX hardware. The exact meaning of the MSX abbreviation remains a matter of debate, at the time, most people seemed to agree it meant MicroSoft eXtended, referring to the built-in Microsoft eXtended BASIC, specifically adapted by Microsoft for the MSX system. Another suggested source for the abbreviation was Matsushita-Sony, however, according to Kazuhiko Nishi, MSX could also stand for Machines with Software eXchangeability. In 1985, Kazuhiko Nishi told that he named MSX after the MX missile, the hardware design of these computers and the various dialects of their BASICs were incompatible. Other Japanese consumer electronics such as Panasonic, Canon, Casio, Yamaha, Pioneer. Nishi proposed MSX as an attempt to create an industry standard for home computers. Inspired by the success of VHS as a standard for video recorders, many Japanese electronic manufacturers along with GoldStar, Philips and Spectravideo built. Any piece of hardware or software with the MSX logo on it was compatible with MSX products of other manufacturers, in particular, the expansion cartridge form and function were part of the standard, any MSX expansion or game cartridge would work in any MSX computer. Nishis standard was built around the Spectravideo SV-328 computer, the standard consisted primarily of several off-the-shelf parts, the main CPU was a 3. This was a choice of components that was shared by other home computers and games consoles of the period, such as the ColecoVision home computer. To reduce overall system cost, many MSX models used a custom IC known as MSX-Engine, however, almost all MSX systems used a professional keyboard instead of a chiclet keyboard, driving the price up compared to the original SV-328. Consequently, these components alongside Microsofts MSX BASIC made the MSX a competitive, though somewhat expensive, the Japanese companies avoided the intensely competitive U. S. home computer market, which was in the throes of a Commodore-led price war. Only Spectravideo and Yamaha briefly marketed MSX machines in the U. S, by the time the MSX was launched in Europe, several more popular 8-bit home computers had also arrived, and it was far too late to capture the extremely crowded European 8-bit computer market. A problem for some software developers was that the method by which MSX-1 computers addressed their video RAM could be quite slow compared to systems that gave direct access to the video memory. Some minor compatibility issues also plagued ported Spectrum games, later games tended to use the MSX-1 joystick port or used MSXs official arrow keys and space bar, or offered the option to choose other keys with which to control the program, solving the problem. Moreover, the MSXs BIOS did not provide information either
The Spectravideo SV-328 was the predecessor of the MSX standard. Many MSX programs were unofficially ported to the SV-328 by home programmers.
Yamaha YIS503II MSX Personal Computer designed for Soviet schools (notice the abbreviature "КУВТ" which means "Class of Teaching Computing Equipment)"