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F > FUJITSU  > FM Towns   

FM Towns

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!

We need more info about this computer ! If you designed, used, or have more info about this system, please send us pictures or anything you might find useful.
Please consider donating your old computer / videogame system to or one of our partners from anywhere in the world (Europe, America, Asia, etc.).


I would also like to note that the version of Windows that runs on the FM-TOWNS is a special modified version of Windows. Just popping in a standard Windows 95 CD will get you nowhere, although once you have Windows 95 installed, standard Windows software will run unmodified.

Monday 26th March 2012
Conrad Russo (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

I would like to note that the FM-TOWNS is not fully IBM PC Compatible as stated in the description. I''m not sure as my FM-TOWNS II UR has not arrived to me yet, but as far as I know only well-behaved software that doesn''t bang the hardware will run unmodified on the FM-TOWNS, since there are some significant differences between the PC standard and the FM-TOWNS. Things like port addresses are different and the graphics system is almost certainly incompatible with any PC graphics mode, so that would just leave properly written text mode software as being interchangeable and even then I am not sure. I will test it out once I have the TOWNS.

Monday 26th March 2012
Conrad Russo (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

Gamepads can be pretty expensive for this. However, 3rd party gamepads are available on eBay for a fraction of the price. Just type in RETROPAD to the eBay search and you will find. Great to have a cheap gamepad for second player!

Monday 23rd August 2021
Jay (UK)


NAME  FM Towns
TYPE  Home Computer
YEAR  February 1989
KEYBOARD  Full stroke 123 (!) keys with function keys and numeric keypad
CPU  Intel 80386dx
CO-PROCESSOR  80387 arithmetic coprocessor
RAM  1 or 2 MB, depending models (max 64 MB)
VRAM  Unknown
ROM  Unknown
GRAPHIC MODES  from 256 x 256up to 640 x 480
up to 1024 sprites (16x16)
COLORS  16 M colors palette - up to 32768 on screen
SOUND  6 channel FM, 8 channel PCM
SIZE / WEIGHT  Unknown
BUILT IN MEDIA  one or two 3.5'' floppy discs depending models; single speed CD-ROM, optional hard-drive
OS  Town OS
POWER SUPPLY  Built-in power supply unit
PRICE  Unknown

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