Codex Gamicus
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Japan's geographic location
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The official flag of Japan
Basic Information

Japan is a country in Asia that has had a profound impact on video gaming history. Its capital is Tokyo, and the country itself is home to a number of companies and corporations related to gaming and video gaming, such as Sony Corporation, Konami, and Nintendo.

Japan uses CERO to rate its console video game content, and EOCS for personal computer video game content and software.

Video gaming[]

Japan has made numerous contributions to video games. See the articles above for further information.

Related technology[]

The following are examples of Japanese contributions to various technologies related to gaming, including computing, graphics, audio, memory/storage, and related electronics.


Digital Control Bus (DCB) and DIN sync
In 1980, Roland introduced the Digital Control Bus (DCB) communications protocol, using the DIN sync interface to synchronize different electronic musical instrument. It was introduced with the Roland TR-808 in 1980, considered groundbreaking at the time, followed by other Roland equipment in 1981. It was the precursor to MIDI, which adopted most of its features from the DCB protocol, including the same type of connectors as the DIN sync interface.[1][2]
Digital synthesis
Yamaha built the first prototype digital synthesizer in 1974.[3] Released in 1979,[4] the Casio VL-1 was the first commercial digital synthesizer,[5] selling for $69.95.[4] The mainstream breakthrough for digital synthesis came with the 1983 release of the Yamaha DX7,[6] one of the best-selling synthesizers of all time.[7][8]
Frequency modulation synthesis (FM synthesis)
In 1973,[3] the Japanese company Yamaha licensed the algorithms for frequency modulation synthesis (FM synthesis).[8] Yamaha's engineers began adapting the algorithm for use in a commercial digital synthesizer, adding improvements such as the "key scaling" method to avoid the introduction of distortion that normally occurred in analog systems during frequency modulation.[9] In the 1970s, Yamaha were granted a number of patents, under the company's former name "Nippon Gakki Seizo Kabushiki Kaisha", evolving Chowning's early work on FM synthesis technology.[10] Yamaha built the first prototype FM digital synthesizer in 1974.[3] The first commercial FM digital synthesizer was the Yamaha GS-1 in 1980.[11]
Linear Arithmetic synthesis (LA synthesis)
A type of sound synthesis invented by Roland Corporation, introduced with the Roland D-50 synthesizer in 1987.[12] In 1987, Roland also introduced LA synthesis to the sound card computer music market, with the Roland MT-32 sound module.[13]
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface)
In 1981, Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi proposed the concept of standardization to Oberheim Electronics and Sequential Circuits, and they then discussed it with Yamaha, Korg and Kawai.[14] A common MIDI standard was developed, working with Roland's pre-existing DCB as a basis,[1] by Roland, Yamaha, Korg, Kawai, and Sequential Circuits.[14][15] MIDI was publicly announced in 1982.[16] MIDI allowed communication between different instruments and general-purpose computer to play a role in music production.[17] Since its introduction, MIDI has remained the musical instrument industry standard interface through to the present day.[18] Kakehashi received the 2013 Technical Grammy Award for the invention of MIDI.[19][20]
MIDI computer music
In 1982, the NEC PC-88 and PC-98 computers introduced MIDI support.[21] In 1983, Yamaha modules introduced MIDI sequencing to the MSX.[22][23]
MIDI music software
In 1983, the Yamaha CX5 MSX computer and Yamaha MSX modules came with graphical music software for digital synthesis and MIDI sequencing,[24][23] capable of synthesizing and sequencing sounds and rhythms.[25] It provided synthesis, composition tools, and a 4-track MIDI sequencer, available on different cartridges.[26]
MIDI sound card
The spread of MIDI on computers was facilitated by Roland Corporation's MPU-401, released in 1984. It was the first MIDI-equipped PC sound card, capable of MIDI sound processing[27] and sequencing.[28][29] After Roland sold MPU sound chips to other sound card manufacturers,[27] it established a universal standard MIDI-to-PC interface.[30] The widespread adoption of MIDI led to computer-based MIDI software being developed.[17]
Music Macro Language
In 1978, Japanese personal computers such as the Sharp MZ and Hitachi Basic Master were capable of digital synthesis, which were sequenced using Music Macro Language (MML).[31] This was used to produce chiptune video game music.[21]


12-bit microprocessor
In 1973, Toshiba developed the TLCS-12,[32][33] the world's first 12-bit microprocessor.[34] The project began in 1971, when Toshiba began developing a microprocessor for Ford Motor Company's Electronic Engine Control (EEC) project, which went on to utilize Toshiba's 12-bit microprocessor.[34]
16-bit microcomputer
In 1977, Panafacom, a conglomeration of Fujitsu, Fuji Electric, and Matsushita, released an early 16-bit microcomputer, the Lkit-16, based on the 16-bit Panafacom MN1610 microprocessor developed in 1975.[35]

Panafacom MN1610, 16-bit microprocessor (1975)

16-bit microprocessor
In 1975, Panafacom developed the first commercial 16-bit single-chip microprocessor CPU,[36] the MN1610.[35][37] According to Fujitsu, it was "the world's first 16-bit microcomputer on a single chip".[36]
Compact office computer
Compact office computers originated from Japan in the early 1960s. While American offices at the time ran large minicomputers loaded with business applications, Japanese manufacturers invented highly compact office computers, with hardware, operating systems, peripheral devices and application development languages specifically developed for business applications, playing a big role in Japan's booming economy. The first office computers released in 1961: Casio's TUC Compuwriter, NEC's NEAC-1201 parametron computer, and Unoke Denshi Kogyo's USAC-3010.[38]
Compressed instructions
In the early 1990s, engineers at Hitachi found ways to compress RISC instruction set so they fit in even smaller memory systems than CISC instruction sets. They developed a compressed instruction set for their SuperH series of microprocessors, introduced in 1992.[39] The SuperH instruction set was later adapted for the ARM architecture's Thumb instruction set.[40]
Digital system design, and digital computer theory
In the 1930s, NEC engineer Akira Nakashima laid the foundations for digital system design with his switching circuit theory, where formulated a two-valued Boolean algebra as a way to analyze and design circuits by algebra means in terms of logic gates. His switching circuit theory provided the mathematical foundations and tools for digital system design in almost all areas of modern technology, and was the basis for digital computer theory.[41][42]
FM synthesis computer music
The Yamaha GS-1, the first commercial FM digital synthesizer, released in 1980, was programmed using a proprietary Yamaha computer, which at the time was only available at Yamaha's headquarters in Japan (Hamamatsu) and the United States (Buena Park).[43] In 1983, Yamaha modules introduced FM synthesis to the MSX personal computer.[22][23]
General-purpose microcomputer
The first microcomputers based on the Intel 8080, the first general-purpose microprocessor, were Sord Computer Corporation's SMP80/x series,[44] released in 1974.[44][45]
General-purpose microprocessor
The Intel 8080, released in 1974, was the first general-purpose microprocessor.[44] The 8-bit Intel 8080 was designed by Federico Faggin and Masatoshi Shima.[46]
Yukio Yokozawa, an employee for Suwa Seikosha, a branch of Seiko (now Seiko Epson), invented the first laptop/notebook computer in July 1980, receiving a patent for the invention.[47] Seiko's notebook computer, known as the HC-20 in Japan, was announced in 1981.[48] In North America, Epson introduced it as the Epson HX-20 in 1981, at the COMDEX computer show in Las Vegas, where it drew significant attention for its portability.[49] It had a mass-market release in July 1982, as the HC-20 in Japan[48] and as the Epson HX-20 in North America.[50] It was the first notebook-sized handheld computer,[51][48][50] the size of an A4 notebook and weighing 1.6 kg (3.5 lb).[48] In 1983, the Sharp PC-5000[52] and Ampere WS-1 laptops from Japan featured a modern clamshell design.[53][54]
The first microcomputer was Sord Computer Corporation's SMP80/08,[45] developed in 1972, using the 8-bit Intel 8008 microprocessor.[44]
Microcomputer operating system
The first microcomputer with an operating system was Sord Computer Corporation's SMP80/x series,[55] released in 1974, based on the Intel 8080 microprocessor.[44][45]
The concept of a single-chip microprocessor central processing unit (CPU) was conceived in a 1968 meeting in Japan between Sharp engineer Sasaki Tadashi Sasaki and a software engineering researcher from Nara Women's College. Sasaki discussed the microprocessor concept with Busicom and Intel in 1968.[56] The first commercial microprocessor, the 4-bit 4004 Intel 4004, began with the "Busicom Project"[57] in 1968 as Masatoshi Shima's three-chip CPU design,[58][57] which was simplified down to a single-chip microprocessor, designed from 1969 to 1970 by Intel's Marcian Hoff and Federico Faggin and Busicom's Masatoshi Shima, and commercially released in 1971.[57][59]
Optical communication
Hardware elements providing the basis of internet technology, the three essential elements of optical communication, were invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa]: the semiconductor laser] (1957) being the light source, the graded-index optical fiber (1964) as the transmission line, and the PIN photodiode (1950) as the optical receiver.[60] Fiber-optic communication was proposed by Nishizawa in 1963.[61] Izuo Hayashi's invention of the continuous wave semiconductor laser in 1970 led directly to the light sources in fiber-optic communication, commercialized by Japanese entrepreneurs,[62] and opened up the field of optical communication, playing an important role in the communication networks of the future.[63] Their work laid the foundations for the Information Age.[60]
Personal computer with built-in floppy disk drive
Sord Computer Corporation's M200 Smart Home Computer, released in 1977, was among the first home computer, and was an early personal computer to be integrated with a built-in floppy disk drive.[64]
Personal computer with built-in hard disk drive
Sord Computer Corporation's M223 Mark VI, introduced in 1979, was an early personal computer to come standard with a built-in hard disk drive.[64]
Plastic central processing unit
Shunpei Yamazaki invented a central processing unit (CPU) made entirely from plastic.[65]
Small computer
In 1967, NEC introduced the NEAC-1240, the world's first small IC computer.[66]
Stored-program transistor computer
The ETL Mark III began development in 1954,[67] and was completed in 1956, created by the Electrotechnical Laboratory.[68] It was the first stored-program transistor computer.[68][69][70]
Switching circuit theory
From 1934 to 1936, NEC engineer Akira Nakashima introduced switching circuit theory in a series of papers showing that two-valued Boolean algebra, which he discovered independently, can describe the operation of switching circuits.[71][42][72][41]
Touchpad tablet
The first touchpad tablet was invented in 1971, by Hidekazu Terai and Kazuo Nakata at Hitachi's Central Research Laboratory. It used a data tablet as a touchpad, with Japanese writing character recognition, for use with a computer.[73] Touch-based tablet input later appeared in the Japanese electronic word processor industry in the 1970s.[74] In 1976, Sharp's Takeo Hara, Takeshi Kasufuchi and Ko Ozawa invented an electrode-based touch input device, using electrode technology,[75] which was improved by Sharp's Hisao Komori and Makoto Shigeta in 1977, using electro-optical technology.[76] Sharp commercially introduced it with its Shoin WD-3000 word processor, released in 1979. It had touch-based tablet input, with a touch-pen used for entry.[77][74] This touch-based interface soon appeared in most Japanese word processors released from 1980 to 1982. A reason for this was because of the complexity of the Japanese writing system, with touch-based entry allowing typists to type faster. As better Japanese input methods developed for keyboards in the early 1980s, however, the Japanese word processor industry soon reverted back to keyboard entry.[74]
Touchscreen tablet
In 1979, the first touchscreen tablet was invented by a Japanese team at Hitachi consisting of Masao Hotta, Yoshikazu Miyamoto, Norio Yokozawa, and Yoshimitsu Oshima, who received a US patent for their invention.[78]
Transistor computer microprogram
The use of microprogramming in electronic transistor computers dates back to 1961, with the KT-Pilot, developed by Kyoto University and Toshiba in Japan.[70][79]
Two-chip microprocessor
NEC released the μPD707 and μPD708, a two-chip 4-bit microprocessor CPU, in 1971.[80] They were followed by NEC's first single-chip microprocessor, the μPD700, in April 1972,[81][82] a prototype for the μCOM-4 (μPD751), released in April 1973,[81] combining the μPD707 and μPD708 into a single microprocessor.[80]
A group of several companies began the development of USB in 1994, including Japanese company NEC.[83]

Display technology[]

Aperture grille
One of two major cathode ray tube (CRT) display technologies, along with the older shadow mask. Aperture grille was introduced by Sony with their Trinitron television in 1968.[84]
Color LCD
The LCD color display was invented by Sharp Corporation's Shinji Kato and Takaaki Miyazaki in May 1975,[85] and then improved by Fumiaki Funada and Masataka Matsuura in December 1975.[86] The first LCD color television were invented as handheld television in Japan. In 1980, Hattori Seiko's R&D group began development on color pocket LCD television.[87] In 1984, Epson released the ET-10, the first full-color, pocket LCD television.[88]
Color LCD projector, and 3LCD
Epson developed the 3LCD color projection technology in the 1980s, and licensed it for use in projectors in 1988.[89] The first color LCD video projector were Epson's 3LCD-based VPJ-700, released in January 1989,[50] and an LCD color video projector released by Sharp Corporation in 1989.[90] Epson's 3LCD technology went on to be adopted by about 40 different projector brands worldwide.[89]
Color plasma display
The world's first color plasma display was produced by Fujitsu in 1989.[91]
Electronic television, and cathode ray tube (CRT)
In 1924, Kenjiro Takayanagi began a research program on electronic television. In 1925, he demonstrated a cathode ray tube (CRT) television with thermal electron emission.[92] In 1926, he demonstrated a CRT television with 40-line resolution,[93] the first working example of a fully electronic television receiver.[92] In 1927, he increased the television resolution to 100 lines, which was unrivaled until 1931.[94] In 1928, he was the first to transmit human faces in half-tones on television.[95]
Handheld projector
In January 1989, Epson released the first compact LCD projector, the VPJ-700.[50]
Handheld television
In 1970, Panasonic released the first television that was small enough to fit in a large pocket, the Panasonic IC TV MODEL TR-001. It featured a 1.5-inch display, along with a 1.5-inch speaker.[96]
High definition television (HDTV), and digital television
Japan had the earliest working HDTV system, with design efforts going back to the 1970s. Japanese consumer electronics firms forged ahead with the development of HDTV technology, with the MUSE format proposed by NHK, a Japanese company. MUSE, the development of which began in the 1970s,[97] was a hybrid system with analog and digital features.[98] Until 1990, the Japanese MUSE standard was the front-runner among the more than 23 different technical concepts under consideration.
LCD large-screen television technology
Sharp Corporation invented the first large LCD displays in 1986, based on color TFT LCD technology.[99] In 1988, Sharp introduced the first commercial large LCD television, a 14" TFT LCD model with active matrix addressing. The release of Sharp's large LCD TV in 1988 led to Japan launching an LCD industry, which developed large-size LCD displays, including TFT computer monitors and LCD televisions.[100]
LCD television
The first LCD televisions were invented as handheld televisions in Japan. In 1980, Hattori Seiko's R&D group began development on color LCD pocket televisions.[87] In 1982, Seiko Epson released the first LCD television, the Epson TV Watch, a wristwatch equipped with an active-matrix LCD television.[101][50] In 1983, Casio released a handheld LCD television, the Casio TV-10.[102]
LCD watches
Tetsuro Hama and Izuhiko Nishimura of Seiko received a US patent dated February 1971 for an electronic wristwatch incorporating a twisted nematic (TN) LCD display.[103] Sharp mass-produced TN LCD displays for watches in 1975.[99]
LED-backlit LCD
The world's first LED-backlit LCD television was Sony's Qualia 005, released in 2004.[104]
Surface-conduction electron-emitter display (SED)
A display technology for flat panel displays. Canon began SED research in 1986.[105]
LCD displays incorporating thin film and transistors were demonstrated in 1970 by J. Kishimoto from Canon[106] and Katsumi Yamamura from Suwa Seikosha (Seiko),[107] and further developed by Sharp Corporation in 1976.[108] In 1977, a TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD display was demonstrated by a Sharp team consisting of Kohei Kishi, Hirosaku Nonomura, Keiichiro Shimizu and Tomio Wada.[109] In 1980, Hattori Seiko's R&D group began development on color pocket LCD television, which led to the release of the first commercial TFT LCD displays by three of its subsidiaries.[87] One of its subsidiaries, Citizen Watch, introduced the Citizen Pocket TV, a color TFT LCD handheld television,[87][110] with a 2.7-inch display, in 1984.[110] By 1985, two other Seiko Hattori subsidiaries had also introduced TFT LCD handheld televisions, with Seiko's color micro-TV and the Epson ELF.[87]
Trinitron cathode ray tube (CRT) aperture grille television invented by Sony's Susumu Yoshida in 1968.[111]
Widescreen televisions date back to the 1970s, when Japan's NHK introduced the Multiple sub-Nyquist sampling encoding|MUSE high-definition television system, which was soon backed by Sony and other Japanese television manufacturers.[97]


Avalanche photodiode
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1952.[112]
Blue laser
In 1992, Japanese inventor Shuji Nakamura invented the first efficient blue LED.[113] Nakamura invented it with Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano, for which the three of them were awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics.[114]
Continuous wave semiconductor laser
Invented by Izuo Hayashi and Morton B. Panish in 1970. This led directly to the light sources in fiber-optic communication, laser printer, barcode readers, and optical disc drives, technologies that were commercialized by Japanese entrepreneurs.[62]
Fiber-optic communication
While working at at Tohoku University, Jun-ichi Nishizawa proposed the use of optical fiber for optical communication, in 1963.[61] Nishizawa invented other technologies that contributed to the development of optical fiber communications, such as the graded-index optical fiber as a channel for transmitting light from semiconductor lasers.[115][116] Izuo Hayashi's invention of the continuous wave semiconductor laser in 1970 led directly to light sources in fiber-optic communication, commercialized by Japanese entrepreneurs.[62]
Glass integrated circuit
Shunpei Yamazaki invented an integrated circuit made entirely from glass and with an 8-bit central processing unit.[65]
Graded-index optical fiber
Jun-ichi Nishizawa patented the graded-index optical fiber in 1964.[60]
JFET (junction gate field-effect transistor)
The first type of JFET was the static induction transistor (SIT), invented by Japanese engineers Jun-ichi Nishizawa and Y. Watanabe in 1950. The SIT is a type of JFET with a short channel length.[117]
PIN diode/photodiode
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa and his colleagues in 1950.[118]
Semiconductor inductance
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1957.[119]
laser|Semiconductor laser]
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1957.[112][60]
Solid-state maser
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1955.[112]
Solid-state optical fiber
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1964.[119]
induction thyristor|Static induction thyristor]
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa in 1971.[112][120]
induction transistor|Static induction transistor]
Invented by Jun-ichi Nishizawa and Y. Watanabe in 1950.[121]


Computer graphics
Particularly well known iconic digital computer graphics images include Running Cola is Africa,[122] by Masao Komura and Koji Fujino, created at the Computer Technique Group, Japan, in 1967.[123]
3D computer graphics software
The earliest known example of 3D computer graphics software for personal computers is 3D Art Graphics, a set of 3D computer graphics effects, written by Kazumasa Mitazawa and released in June 1978 for the Apple II home computer.[124][125]
Real-time 3D ray tracing
The first implementation of a real-time 3D ray-tracer was the LINKS-1 Computer Graphics System, built in 1982 at Osaka University's School of Engineering, by professors Ohmura Kouichi, Shirakawa Isao and Kawata Toru with 50 students. It was a massively parallel processing computer system with 514 microprocessor, used for rendering realistic 3D computer graphics with high-speed ray tracing. According to the Information Processing Society of Japan: "By developing a new software methodology specifically for high-speed image rendering, LINKS-1 was able to rapidly render highly realistic images." It was "used to create the world's first 3D planetarium-like video of the entire heavens that was made completely with computer graphics. The video was presented at the Fujitsu pavilion at the 1985 International Exposition in Tsukuba."[126]


Blu-ray Disc
After Shuji Nakamura's invention of practical blue laser diodes,[127] Sony started two projects applying the new diodes: UDO (Ultra Density Optical) and DVR Blue (together with Pioneer), a format of rewritable discs which would eventually become the Blu-ray Disc.[128] The Blu-ray Disc Association was founded by five companies from Japan and two from South Korea.
The CD-ROM format was developed by Japanese company Denon in 1982. It was an extension of Compact Disc Digital Audio, and adapted the format to hold any form of digital data, with a storage capacity of 553 MiB.[129] CD-ROM was then introduced by Denon and Sony at a Japanese computer show in 1984.[53]
Compact Disc (CD)
The compact disc was developed by Sony (Toshitada Doi). Sony first publicly demonstrated an optical digital audio disc in September 1976. In September 1978, they demonstrated an optical digital audio disc with a 150 minute playing time, and with specifications of 44,056 Hz sampling rate, 16-bit linear resolution, cross-interleaved error correction code, that were similar to those of the Compact Disc they introduced in 1982.[130]
Digital video disc (DVD)
The DVD, first developed in 1995, was created by three Japanese companies: Sony, Toshiba, and Panasonic.
Dynamic random-access memory (DRAM)
The Toshiba Toscal BC-1411 electronic calculator, which debuted in 1965,[131][132] introduced an early form of DRAM built from discrete components.[132]
Flash memory
Flash memory (both NOR and NAND types) was invented by Dr. Fujio Masuoka while working for Toshiba c. 1980.[133][134]
Floppy disk (magnetic disk)
The first floppy disk was invented by Yoshiro Nakamatsu at the Tokyo Imperial University in 1950.[135][136] He later received a Japanese patent in 1952,[137][138] and a 1958 American patent, for a magnetic disk record sheet.[139] Nippon Columbia planned to commercialized his magnetic disc sheet recorder in 1960.[140] He licensed a number of patents to IBM,[137][141][142] reaching licensing agreements with them in the 1970s.[135][143][144]
Glass hard disk drive platter
In 1990, Toshiba's MK1122FC was the first hard drive to use a glass hard disk drive platter, replacing the earlier aluminium platters. Glass platters had several advantages, such as greater shock resistance, compared to aluminium platter.[145]
Helical scan
Dr. Norikazu Sawazaki invented a prototype helical scan recorder in 1953.[146]
Holographic data storage
In 1975, Hitachi introduced a video disc system in which chrominance, luminance and sound information were encoded holographic. Each frame was recorded as a 1mm diameter hologram on a 305mm disc, while a laser beam read out the hologram from three angles.[147]
Laserdisc digital data storage
In 1984, Sony introduced a laserdisc format that could store any form of digital data, as a data storage device similar to CD-ROM, with a larger capacity of 3.28 GiB.[53]
Micro floppy disk (3½-inch floppy disk)
Sony invented the 3½-inch floppy disk format, called the micro floppy disk. The first commercial micro floppy disk drive was the Sony OA-D30V, released in 1981.[148]
Perpendicular recording
In 1976, Dr. Shun-ichi Iwasaki (president of the Tohoku Institute of Technology) recognized the distinct density advantages in perpendicular recording. In 1978, Dr. T. Fujiwara began an intensive research and development program at the Toshiba Corporation that eventually resulted in the perfection of floppy disk media optimized for perpendicular recording and the first magnetic digital data storage devices using the technique.[149]
Videocassette recorder
The first machines (the VP-1100 videocassette player and the VO-1700 videocassette recorder) to use the first videocassette format, U-matic, were introduced by Sony in 1971.[150]
Video tape recorder
Dr. Norikazu Sawazaki invented a prototype video tape recorder in 1953, based on helical scan technology.[146]


The first emoji was created in 1998 or 1999 in Japan by Shigetaka Kurita.[151]
The first imageboards were created in Japan. Later English language imageboards such as 4chan would be created.[152]
Textboards like imageboards were invented in Japan. However, unlike imageboards, textboards are relatively unknown outside of Japan.[152]


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