Monday, January 4, 2016

AUCNET NIA-2001 - Part 3

In the first part of this article I showed the AUCNET NIA-2001, in the second, who's AUCNET and what was the purpose of NIA-2001 in AUCNET's business. Now is time to show who really built this machine and where NIA-2001 is located in MSX TurboR's timeline.

AUCNET is the new MSX TurboR manufacturer?

This would be an easy question to answer: there is a big "AUCNET" printed in NIA-2001's front, so AUCNET would be the manufacturer. But, when you turn the machine on, there is no AUCNET in the custom opening screen, you can't find "AUCNET" character string in the machine's ROM, even the PCBs doesn't have AUCNET printed anywhere.

When you turn on the NIA-2001 , it shows this screen:

Boot screen of NIA-2001 (picture taken using BlueMSX emulator)

The company name in boot screen is "Japan Business Television, Inc" and the japanese text on the center translates to: "Insert program cassette". Remember, the NIA-2001 comes with a cartridge, the AUCNET software is provided in this separated cartridge.

This screen also helps us to have the firmware date, 1992. At the back of NIA-2001 there is a seal:

Close view of the seal on NIA-2001's rear

The japanese text on this seal reads:

Approved equipment name NIA-2001
Approval number
Power consumption AC100V 40W
Year 1993 Month 12
Japan Business Television, Inc

From this seal you can see: the date when this NIA-2001 unit was made (1993-12); the JATE (japanese "FCC") certification codes (S92-3136-0 and M92-N194-0) and, again, the "Japan Business Television, Inc" name. That was the company that ordered this machine and the one that did pay the JATE's certification fees.

When the AUCNET began their operations with sattelite broadcasting they created a new company to take care of these operations. In 1988 the "Japan Business Television, Inc" was created, being the first multimedia analog time-division multiplex transmission system in Japan (1989). With this business division, makes sense to have JBTV responsible for the satellite receivers and terminals. Maybe these NIA-2001 terminals had other uses in JBTV, they could be good subtitlers and special effect generators, but that's pure speculation.

Now we know that JBTV has good skills in satellite technology (and today they provide many other IT and communications services). But they had the know-how and a good relationship with ASCII to build a hidden MSX TurboR machine?

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