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Keyboard Builders' Digest / Keyboard Spotting

Sony Hitbit

Sony HitBit – a home computer family from the '80s and its HB-101 model with kick-ass design language.

KBD.news
Published February 4, 2022

The Sony HitBit is a line of MSX systems – which was a standardized home computer architecture, mostly sold in Japan and some other countries.

When I spotted the above photo of a Sony HitBit HB-101, posted by TobyJ0S without any context, I knew a whole new segment of the retro computing world will open up to me.

In Japan, MSX systems were manufactured by almost all the big names like Panasonic, Sharp, Canon, Casio, Fujitsu, Yamaha, etc. – just to name a few. And members of Sony's Hit-Bit family were only a fragment of all these MSXs.

While the MSX architecture was a big hit, 7 out of the 9 million MSX units were sold in Japan, so I wasn't surprised I haven't seen this model before.

The nice Japanese sublegends of these models' keycaps is the sign of the dominant market as well.

The look of this black version – the only color variant marketed in Europe – is insane too, especially if you compare it with its contemporaries like the Commodore 64 or other bulky ones like the Amstrad CPC and various abominations of the time with chiclet keys.

However, there were even more mouthwatering red and white/light grey versions on the home market:

(source)

The part beneath the Sony logo is a handle for transport. And you could stick a removable joystick in the middle of the arrow cluster, like on this gorgeous red HitBit:

(source)

The white version, which for some reason, resembles me of a DeLorean – from about the same era, exposes the cartridge slots. Cassette drives could be used with HitBits too but disk drives were much rarer:

(source)

Just like the Sony HitBit is only one line of the populous market of MSX home computers, the Sony HitBit HB-101 itself (pictured above) is just a single model of the Sony HitBit family. Eminent readers may do their own quick research now but I already found the next HitBit to be featured...

Published on Fri 4th Feb 2022. Featured in KBD #64 (source).


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