|Total Games||unknown (5 present)|
|← (none)||Sharp X68000 →|
The Sharp MZ is a series of personal computers sold in Japan and Europe (particularly Germany and Great Britain) by Sharp beginning in 1978.
Although commonly believed to stand for "Microcomputer Z80", the term MZ actually has its roots in the MZ-40K, a home computer kit produced by Sharp in 1978. This was soon followed by the MZ-80K, K2, C, and K2E, all of which were based on Fujitsu's 4-bit MB8843 processor and provided a simple hexadecimal keypad for input. (The MZ-80C, which was sold fully assembled, included a full alphanumeric keyboard.)
From the first Z80 processor-based model to the MZ-2200 in 1983, the MZ computers included the PC, monitor, keyboard, and tape-based recorder in a single unit, similar to Commodore's PET series. It was also notable for not including a programming language or operating system in ROM, like the IBM PC. This allowed a host of third-party companies, starting with Hudson Soft, to produce many languages and OSes for the system. In an era when floppy disk drives were too expensive for most home users, the MZ's built-in tape drive was considered faster and more reliable than the drive on competing computers; however, this meant that the MZ series was relatively slow to adopt floppy drives as a standard accessory.
The MZ series is divided into several lines, including the text-based MZ-80K series, the graphics-based MZ-80B series, and the MZ-3500/5500 series, based on a completely different architecture.
In 1982, Sharp's television division released the X1, a completely new computer. The X series proved to outsell Sharp's own MZ series, and in response, Sharp released the MZ-1500/2500 machines, which featured powered-up graphics and sound capabilities. However, this series saw little marketplace success, and eventually the company abandoned the line in favor of the X68000 series.
The MZ name lives on as the initials of two of Sharp's most well-known products: the Mebius line of PCs, and the Zaurus line of personal digital assistants.