Jump to content
Mighty Jabba

Trying to recreate the earliest Mac released in Japan (Mac Plus?)

Recommended Posts

I'm a Japanese translator and a Mac fan, so I thought it would be interesting to try and recreate the earliest iteration of Japanese-compatible Mac. However, I don't have a large amount of knowledge about the release of the Mac in Japan. I think the original Macintosh was only available in Japan as imported English versions, and the Mac Plus was the first Mac that Apple officially released in Japan with a Japanese OS. Is that correct? Maybe @JDW has some input about this? Or does anyone know of a site that talks about the early days of the Mac in Japan? I picked up this M01110A J keyboard recently and want to use it in conjunction with a Mac Plus running KanjiTalk.

 

DSC00098.thumb.jpg.6d34f444fa1599b71f8cccf2173df2a7.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tech Note #138 says “The 12 point font takes up approximately 100K of memory and the optional 18 point font takes up approximately 250K of memory. The KanjiTalk code itself takes up about 180K of memory. Because the fonts take up quite a bit of memory, many applications will not work on a Macintosh 512K with the Kanji fonts installed.” But TN138 certainly implies that the Plus was the first Macintosh designed for Japanese, and if fonts and text took over half of the 512K’s RAM, it doesn’t seem like it would have been very practical for Japanese use. KanjiTalk may not have been released until the Plus came out.

 

It also claims that there’s a special Plus ROM with the Kanji font, though I haven’t yet checked if either of my Pluses’ ROMs has it.

 

For comparison, here’s a 512k currently on auction in Japan with a non-Japanese OS and keyboard: https://page.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/g370019387

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This has been kind of interesting (if difficult) to research. I do read Japanese, so that helps. From what I understand, the first Macs sold in Japan were actually imported by Canon, who added a special ROM for kanji support, and these were called the Dynamac. I’ve seen pictures of these Dynamac units with English keyboards, and since they weren’t an official Apple product,  I initially thought the English keyboard was all there was. But in looking a bit deeper it seems like at least some Dynamacs did have kana keyboards. This guy speculated that Canon must have had Japanese keyboards made, but I don’t know if that’s true or whether they were somehow made in conjunction with Apple (the whole Apple and Canon relationship back then is pretty interesting). 

 

The Dynamacs are apparently quite rare, so I guess that would explain why these keyboards are also rare. Since I have no way of getting one of these I am going to focus on the Plus and KanjiTalk as the first Macs officially sold by Apple In Japan. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I've managed to boot KanjiTalk 1, KanjiTalk 2, and KanjiTalk 6 on my Mac Plus. The first two versions seem very stripped down (they can run from floppies, although they require some disk swapping during boot-up just to load the Japanese fonts). So although I was able to boot them I couldn't actually accomplish much with the system. There weren't even any keyboard preferences that would allow you to use the kana keyboard layout, which makes me think that what is available for download online may have been more like simple boot disks and not what people were actually using to run their systems.

 

KanjiTalk 6 is also available on the Macintosh Repository and comes on a number of floppy images, so it feels more like a real OS, but of course you need to run it from a hard disk. This took a little doing because I'm still not an expert at using SCSI2SD, but I got it running from one of my SCSI2SD disks, and it seems to be running fine. I was even able to try out typing using the kana layout on the keyboard above, which makes me feel like a child just starting to learn to type. One thing that struck me right away is that the system font is a lot bigger on the Japanese system. I've used Japanese Mac OS before and didn't really find this to be the case, but I'm guessing that because the screen resolution on compact Macs is so low, they had to boost the font size so they could fit in all the details of kanji characters. Even at the bigger size some of them are very squished together and hard to see. I'll post a photo later. I'm still trying to figure out things like software compatibility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting. I only knew of Dynamac as the company from the USA that briefly sold portable psuedo-clones along with Outbound.

 

I knew Canon worked with Apple in some capacity (I have several computers with Canon service stickers) and apparently supplied NeXT for a while, but I didn't know they had their own early systems also called Dynamac. I wonder how licensing worked with that. Apparently Jef Raskin, whose brainchild the Macintosh originally was, left Apple to work at Canon to build the CAT which is supposedly close to his original vision for the Macintosh before Steve Jobs took over. I'd still like to find a CAT but I've never seen one for sale.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×