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    I’ve heard that one reason microcomputers took off in the West while game consoles took off in Japan is that while you can get a lot of work done in English with a 256×240 display, that resolution isn’t high enough to properly display kanji. Likewise, you can fit two full English alphabets plus assorted punctuation in a few kilobytes of character ROM, but the storage required for a decent set of Japanese characters is huge in comparison. So it wasn’t until the early 90s that PCs became useful to the general Japanese public, by which time cultural trends were already set.

    I imagine China had similar limitations, plus the whole “cultural revolution” deal on top.

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      I don’t think this was the case, unless there were consoles that were released before the Famicom in 1986, By 1986 the character limitation problem had been solved 6 years earlier:

      In 1980, the GB2312 Code of Chinese Graphic Character Set for Information Interchange-Primary Set was created allowing for 99% of contemporary characters to be easily expressed.

      So…I think this reason is just an incorrect theory. Didn’t Japanese have microcomputers anyway?

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        Character encodings like GB2312 are just an enumerated list of characters, I’m talking about storage space.

        The Commodore 64, to pick a reasonably popular Western microcomputer, displayed 8×8 pixel characters. Wikipedia says it had 164 codes with “visible representations”, so it needed to store 8×8×164 = 10496 bits, or 1312 bytes of character data.

        It’s not practical to display Chinese characters in 8×8 pixels, I believe 12×12 is the practical minimum. GB2312 has 6,763 characters, which means a Chinese microcomputer based on the same principles as the C64 would need to store 973,872 bits, or 121,734 bytes, or ~119KiB. Not only is that nearly two orders of magnitude larger (with the corresponding increase in production cost), it’s nearly twice the amount of memory that the C64’s 6510 CPU could address, meaning a hypothetical Chinese C64 would also require a much more expensive CPU. Either way, it wouldn’t have been economically possible for such devices to have been as popular as microcomputers were in the West.

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          I think you are right. Even though they may be able to be “expressed”, they are probably talking about theoretically and not actually on a computer.

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      Trying to pull foreign-language information out of Google seems to be a lot more difficult now than it used to be, not sure why. I’ve been trying to find the keyboard pinout and protocol for the Japanese PC88 8-bit microcomputer for a few weeks now. Even with Japanese turned on in the (very poorly designed) “languages” screen, it’s not doing a great job at relevance.

      edit: as soon as I complain, there it appears: https://electrelic.com/electrelic/node/597

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        It makes me think we are in need of a less biased search engine. My main concern would be storage space to archive all these sites. Speed would not really matter as long as we can do it in a year’s worth of time. Actually I guess archive.org is sort of like this?

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          One of the things you can do is to plug foreign-language technical sources like this and your own findings into archive.org to make sure they are saved. Obviously their crawler can’t be everywhere, so stuff like this (especially in Japan where it seems like the best technical info is available on free ISP webspace) can get lost so easily.