Very little is known about this Japanese system. Help welcome !!
It apparently had some success in Japan, with great game conversions. Based on the IBM PC architecture, it had excellent sound and graphic features.
It has the barebone of a classic IBM PC system but was conceived from the start as a real familial multimedia system. Graphic resolutions go from 360x240 to 640x480 with 256 colors simultaneously on screen from a color palette of 16.7 millions colors. Most of these graphic modes have two graphic pages. Up to 1024 sprites can be created, with 16x16 pixels size each.
The sound features are excellent too. It can play stereo CDs of course, thanks to its built-in CD-ROM drive. It also has 8 PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) stereo voices, thanks to a Sega chipset, which is generally used for special effect sounds. A Yamaha FM chipset is also included and offers 6 FM channels, mostly used for melodies...
The FM Towns is delivered with a joypad, a microphone and a mouse. The operating system, Town OS, is graphical and use windows, scrollers, icons, etc. The system is somehow compatible with other IBM PC systems, using a special version of DOS + DOS Extender. It can even run Windows !
Where does the name FM Towns come from? In those days, Fujitsu named its PC products after nobel-prized scientists. So, the codename of the first model of FM TOWNS is thus "Townes", in honour of Charles Hard Townes, one of the winners of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics. But the word "TOWNES" could be pronounced "Tau-Ness", so to be clear that it has to be pronounced "Townz", the letter "e" was removed from the codename before production. The word "FM" comes from "Fujitsu Micro".
It was followed by the FM Towns II.
More information from Dave Lundberg:
I worked on a few games for this system, notably "The Case of the Cautious Condor". For the era, it was just an incredible piece of hardware. Many, many different graphic modes, sprites, scrolling, etc. As anyone who did real development for this system will tell you, it was just a killer piece of gaming hardware.
The TOWNS-OS was sort of a pre-cursor to Windows and superior to Window 3.1 (but it was still buggy). That said, we didn't use TOWS-OS but instead wrote our games in protect mode assembly and C using (I think) a WATCOM tool chain. Once the system was started and we set the basic video and sound modes, we wrote generally directly to the hardware.
Fujitsu took great pride in the low-cost CD-ROM they had designed. In 1989, we made test CD-ROMs at a pressing plant since there were no cheap writers available. The test discs we made of glass. When you put a glass disc in the vertically mounted CD-ROM drive, the mass of the disc overwhelmed the cheap drive motor, resulting in 1,000s of read retries. An early test of ours once took several minutes to load 30K of code!