The TurboGrafx-16 Entertainment SuperSystem, known in Japan and France as the PC Engine (PCエンジン Pī Shī Enjin), is a home video game console jointly developed by Hudson Soft and NEC Home Electronics, released in Japan on October 30, 1987, in the United States on August 29, 1989, and in France on November 22, 1989. It was the first console released in the 16-bit era, albeit still utilizing an 8-bit CPU. Originally intended to compete with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), it ended up competing with the Sega Genesis, and later on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).
The TurboGrafx-16 has an 8-bit CPU, a 16-bit video color encoder, and a 16-bit video display controller. The GPUs are capable of displaying 482 colors simultaneously, out of 512. With dimensions of 14 cm×14 cm×3.8 cm (5.5 in×5.5 in×1.5 in), the PC Engine once held the record for the world's smallest game console.
In France, the system was released shortly after its American debut under its original Japanese name, PC Engine. In the United Kingdom, Telegames released a slightly altered version of the American model simply as the TurboGrafx in 1990 in extremely limited quantities. This model was also released in Spain through selected retailers.Although there was no full-scale PAL region release of the system, imported PC Engine consoles were largely available in France and Benelux through major retailers thanks to the unlicensed importer Sodipeng (Société de Distribution de la PC Engine, a subsidiary of Guillemot International).
The TurboGrafx-16 failed to break into the North American market and sold poorly. However, in Japan the PC Engine was very successful. Two major revisions, the PC Engine SuperGrafx and the PC Engine Duo, were released in 1989 and 1991, respectively. The entire series was succeeded by the PC-FX in 1994, which was only released in Japan.
The PC Engine is a relatively compact video game console, owing to an efficient three-chip architecture and its use of small ROM cartridges called HuCards (Turbo Chips in North America). Hudson Soft developed the HuCard (Hudson Card) from the Bee Card technology it piloted on the MSX. HuCards are about the size of a credit card, but slightly thicker. They are very similar to the My Card format utilized for certain games released on the SG-1000/SC-3000 and the Mark III/Master System. The largest Japanese HuCard games were up to 20 Mbit in size. All PC Engine consoles can play standard HuCards, including the PC Engine SuperGrafx (which has its small library of exclusive HuCards).
With the exception of the budget-priced PC Engine Shuttle, the portable PC Engine GT and the PC-KD863G monitor, every PC Engine console is also capable of playing CD-ROM² discs, provided the console is equipped with the required CD-ROM drive and System Card. The SuperGrafx and PC Engine LT both required additional adapters to work on the original CD-ROM² System and Super CD-ROM² respectively, whereas the Duo consoles had the CD-ROM drive and Super System Card integrated into them (as did the Super CD-ROM² player). Some unlicensed CD games by Games Express can only run on Duo consoles, due to their games requiring both a special System Card packaged with the games and the 256 kB of RAM built into the Duo.
The console's CPU is a Hudson Soft HuC6280 8-bit microprocessor operating at 1.79 MHz and 7.16 MHz. It features integrated bank-switching hardware (driving a 21-bit external address bus from a 6502-compatible 16-bit address bus), an integrated general-purpose I/O port, a timer, block transfer instructions, and dedicated move instructions for communicating with the HuC6270A VDC. Its 16-bit graphics processor and video color encoder chip were also developed by Hudson Soft. It holds 8 kB of work RAM and 64 kB of video RAM.