Gakken mag and 4-bit computer rollout party in Tokyo

Gakken mag and 4-bit computer rollout party in Tokyo

Above is a table with some GMC-4s on it and some Gakken analog synth kits. Below that is Francesco Fondi (right) talking to Kaneko San, the editor of the Gakken’s Otona no Kagaku magazine. (More pics of the evening, including several of the NEC TK-80, after the jump.)

Our pal Francesco Fondi, of Modellismo Hobby Media, was in Tokyo a few weeks ago. On July 5, he attended Tokyo Culture Club’s Mycon Night. The event was organized to celebrate the recent release of the 24th volume of Gakken’s Otona no Kagaku magazine, which features the very first 4-bit microcomputer kit to be produced in the last 25 years: the GMC-4.

Fra writes:

The GMC4 has a 16-key keyboard, a build-in speaker, a 7-segment LED display, and a 6 LED display. A tennis game, music software, and two other 4-bit games come pre-installed in the GMC-4.

While drinking some great Kirin beer with friends from Sansai Books and Gizmodo Japan, I listened to the introduction speech by the Gakken editors. The inspiration for the GMC-4 comes from the TK-80, released by NEC in 1976, and partially, from the FX MYCON R-165, which Gakken released in 1983.

Several people in the room had the GMC-4 with them, so the speaker started to read some code and help everyone with a GMC-4 to program it “live.” Then they introduced the Arduino, and being Italian, I was really happy to see how a board “Made in Italy” is so well received by Japanese engineers and toy hackers!

With the presentation finished, it was time for my friends Polymoog and Gan to play live with a special setup of three GMC-4s patched into Gakken SX150 analog synths. Gan is the guy who designed the SX150, and once in a year, with Abe, he organizes the Analog Synthesizer Builders’ Summit Party in Tokyo.

The event concluded around 9:30 pm with another live act, but by then, I’d had too many beers and too much deep discussions about Gakken gadgets with Musahsi from to remember the artists’ names who sat in with Polymoog.

In the end, it was by far the geekiest event held in Tokyo in the last few months, even geekier than Danny Choo’s CGM nights (sorry Danny)!!


(Notice the MAKE sticker on the laptop and the original NEC TK-80 box)

12 thoughts on “Gakken mag and 4-bit computer rollout party in Tokyo

  1. frenzy says:

    i want one of those small 4 bit computers so bad!

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      They will be in the Maker Shed soon!

  2. A. Hacker says:

    “In the end, it was by far the geekiest event held in Tokyo in the last few months”

    WTF? What about the Tokyo Make Meeting? What about Tokyo BarCamp? What about the founding of Tokyo Hackerspace?

    A. Hacker

    1. Francesco Fondi says:

      I really think MYCOM NIGHT was by far the geekiest event held in Tokyo in the last few months but this is just my opinion and of course you can have a different idea.

      Pretty sure that other tokyoites would say: “WTF? What about the DREAMPARTY, Comiket, Dollparty, Wonfes, GameLabo event, etc.”

  3. vonkonow says:

    Here is another cool 4-bit programmable microcomputer. It runs brainfuck and you can build it yourself!

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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