Hitachi offered a relatively refined microcomputer as early as 1978 in the MB-6880 Basic Master (upgraded to the Basic Master Level 2 in 1979). It used the same processor, the 6800, found in some popular American systems like the Atair 680 and SWTPC 6800, but in a small enclosure with a keyboard.
It’s uncertain if Hitachi sold the MB-6890 in the U.S. If it did, several shortcomings would have put it at a disadvantge. For example, it had no disk operating system; the optional floppy drives were controlled by the BASIC interpreter. The drives themselves were single-density at a time when double-density was becoming popular.
At the system level, the MBE16000 was a typical PC XT-compatible design. The computer broke convention with the main enclosure. Instead of using a flat box like everyone else, Hitachi used an upright breadbox-shaped cabinet. Although attractive, the MBE16000 did not have enough room for a monitor to sit on top, so users consequently lost desk space to the design. This model was sold in Japan as the Personal Computer Basic Master 16000 series.
Like many Japanese computer makers, Hitachi had several MSX offerings. A Model MB-H1 had 32K RAM standard, and a smaller Model HB-H1E had 16K RAM and no RF video output.
Hitachi MB-6880 Basic Master/Basic Master Level 2 (1978 [Basic Master]/1979 [Basic Master Level 2], desktop)
Base Configuration: 6800 CPU, 4K RAM (Basic Master)/8K RAM (Basic Master Level 2), 16K ROM, integral keyboard, cassette port, BASIC in ROM
Video: 24-line x 32-column text
Size/Weight: 16.6 x 11.1 x 3.1 inches, 8,8 lbs
Important Options: monochrome monitor, cassette recorder, printer
Hitachi MB-6890 Basic Master Level 3 (1980, desktop)
Original Retail Price: $1,050
Base Configuration: 1MHz 6809 CPU; six expansion slots; 32K RAM, 24K ROM; monochrome and RGB video ports, integral keyboard/keypad; RS-232C, parallel, cassette, and light-pen ports, BASIC
Video: 25-line x 80-column text, 640 x 200 graphics
Size/Weight: 17.7 x 4.9 x 20.3 inches, 15.4 lbs.
Important Options: external 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, printer, modem, light pen
Hitachi MB-6885 Basic Master Jr. (1982, home computer)
Base Configuration: 6800 CPU, 16K RAM (64K max), 18K ROM, integral keyboard
Video: 24-line x 32-column text, 256 x 192 graphics, eight colors
Size/Weight: 15.6 x 3.8 x 12.9 inches, 9.9 lbs.
Hitachi MBE16000 (1983, desktop PC)
Original Retail Price: $3,000
Base Configuration: 8088 CPU; MS-DOS; four ISA slots; 128K RAM (384K max); one 5.25-inch floppy disk drive; video port; keyboard/keypad; RS-232C, parallel, and light-pen ports; BASIC
Video: 80-column text, 640 x 400 graphics
Important Options: CP/M-86, second 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, 8-inch floppy disk drive, 14-inch monochrome or color monitor
Hitachi MB-H1 (1984, MSX home computer)
Original Retail Price: $225 to $260
Base Configuration: 3.6MHz Z80 CPU, two ROM cartridge slots, 32K RAM, composite video port, integral keyboard, parallel port, AC adapter
Video: 24-line x 40-column text, 256 x 192 graphics
Important Options: RF video interface