ASCII Corporation

ASCII Corporation (株式会社アスキー Kabushiki kaisha Asukī) was a publishing company based in Tokyo, Japan. It became a subsidiary of Kadokawa Group Holdings in 2004, and merged with another Kadokawa subsidiary MediaWorks on April 1, 2008, and became ASCII Media Works.[1][2] The company published Monthly ASCII as the main publication.

ASCII Corporation
Parent companyKadokawa Corporation
StatusFolded into ASCII Media Works
FounderKazuhiko Nishi
Keiichiro Tsukamoto
SuccessorASCII Media Works, Agetec, and Enterbrain
Country of originJapan
Headquarters locationChiyoda, Tokyo
Key peopleKiyoshi Takano, President
Publication typesComputer magazines, Video games
No. of employees197 (as of March 31, 2006)


1977–1990: Founding and first projects

ASCII was founded in 1977 by Kazuhiko Nishi and Keiichiro Tsukamoto. Originally a publisher of a magazine with the same name ASCII, talks between Bill Gates and Nishi led to a creation of Microsoft's first overseas sales office, ASCII Microsoft, in 1979.[3][4] Nishi was also known for his role in marketing the MSX in 1983, an 8-bit standard computer well known in the former USSR and Japan. In 1984, ASCII engaged itself in semiconductor business, followed by a further expansion into commercial online service in 1985 under the brand of ASCII-NET. As the popularity of home video game systems soared in the 1980s, ASCII became active in the development and publishing of software and peripherals for popular consoles such as the Family Computer and Mega Drive. After Microsoft's public stock offering in 1986, ASCII Microsoft was dissolved.[3] At around the same time, the company was also obliged to reform itself as a result of its aggressive diversification in the first half of the 1980s.[5] The company went public in 1989.

1989–2000: Satellites and later projects

ASCII's revenue in its fiscal year ending March 1996 was 56 billion yen, broken down by sectors: Publication (52.5% or 27.0 billion yen), Game entertainment (27.8% or 14.3 billion yen), Systems & semiconductors (10.8% or 6 billion yen) and others.[5] Despite its struggles to remain focused on its core businesses, the company continued to suffer from accumulated debts, until an arrangement was set up that CSK Corporation execute a major investment into ASCII in 1997.[6]

In the mid-90s, ASCII acquired the company Something Good, and renamed it to ASCII Something Good, through wich they developed 3 Sega Saturn Games: AI Shougi (1995), AI Igo (1997), AI Shougi 2 (1998).

ASCII had become popular in the software market that it branched out and created an American satellite in 1991 known as ASCII Entertainment. To focus on supporting the interactive entertainment channel in America, startup company Agetec (for "Ascii Game Entertainment TEChnology") was spun off as an independent corporation in 1998 and later became a fully independent publisher one year later. Co-founder Tsukamoto had left ASCII to create a company of his own in 1992, named Impress.[7]

2000–2008: Ownership changes and dissolution

On November 26, 2001 CSK Corporation and Unison Capital Partners L.P. announced the approval of transferring the control of its subsidiary ASCII to Unison Capital Partners L.P., effective on 2002-03-30, as part of the strategy to focus the CSK's group operations on B2B businesses.[8][9] The transfer was approved on December 21, 2001.[10] As a part of deal, ASCII's outstanding debt owed to CSK was forgiven, and under Unison's control, the ASCII's Enterbrain and IT publishing divisions would maintain autonomy, while ASCII was restructured to concentrate on PC and IT publishing businesses.

On May 28, 2002, Unison Media Partners announced ASCII would become its fully owned subsidiary of via share exchange, and ASCII would be delisted, effective on October 1, 2002.[11] On November 18, 2002, the Astroarts subsidiary was renamed to ASCII, while ASCII was renamed to MediaLeaves.[12] The former Astroarts subsidiary would inherit the publishing business of the former ASCII. On January 29, 2004, Unison Capital Partners, L.P. announced the sale of ASCII's parent company MediaLeaves to Kadokawa Group Holdings, to be completed on 2004-03.[13][14]

On September 27, 2007, Kadokawa Group Holdings announced the merger between subsidiaries MediaWorks and ASCII under the name ASCII Media Works, effective on April 1, 2008.[1][2] The merger was approved in 2008.[15] On January 10, 2010, the formerly named ASCII company MediaLeaves was merged into Enterbrain, dissolving the last of the ASCII entity.[16]

See also


  1. ^ a b 子会社の合併に関するお知らせ (PDF) (in Japanese). Kadokawa Group Holdings. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-08.
  2. ^ a b "Kadokawa Group to Merge ASCII, MediaWorks Subsidiaries". Anime News Network. 2007-10-02. Archived from the original on 7 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
  3. ^ a b Allan, Roy A. (2001). A History of the Personal Computer. Allan Publishing. pp. 31, 65. ISBN 0-9689108-0-7.
  4. ^ Quote from Bill Gates' The Road Ahead, found in Lessem, Ronnie (1998). Management development through cultural diversity. Routledge. pp. 160–161. ISBN 0-415-17875-4.
  5. ^ a b Toda, Satoru (戸田覚) (1997). A quick map to Information and Telecommunications makrket (情報・通信業界早わかりマップ). Kō Shobō (こう書房). pp. 130–135. ISBN 4-7696-0606-0.
  6. ^ "Ascii to join CSK group". The Japan Times. Dec 25, 1997. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  7. ^ Impress Holdings website Archived February 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "CSK Corporation to Transfer ASCII to Unison Capital Partners L.P." CSK. 2001-11-26. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  9. ^ "アスキーの経営権取得に関する基本合意書締結について" (PDF). 2001-11-26.
  10. ^ "CSK Corporation Formalizes Contract to Transfer ASCII to Unison Capital Partners L.P." CSK. 2001-12-21. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008.
  11. ^ "株式会社アスキーとの株式交換契約締結について" (PDF). Unison. 2002-05-28.
  12. ^ "アスキーが社名変更". 2002-11-18.
  13. ^ "株式会社メディアリーヴス株式の公開買付への応募について" (PDF). Unison. 2004-01-29.
  14. ^ "Kadokawa buys ASCII (アスキー、角川が買収へ)". IT Media, Inc. (in Japanese). 2004-01-29. Archived from the original on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  15. ^ 子会社の合併に関する経過のお知らせ (PDF) (in Japanese). Kadokawa Group Holdings. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
  16. ^ "MediaLeaves, Inc. announcement" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on October 28, 2010.

External links

ASCII (magazine)

ASCII (アスキー) was a monthly released microcomputer magazine in Japan, published by ASCII Corporation from 1977. It targeted for business users who used a personal computer in their home and office, but it sometimes introduced computer games and computer musics. It was also known as the Monthly ASCII (月刊アスキー) written along with the title from Vol. 2 No. 4, and distinguish with the Weekly ASCII (週刊アスキー) founded in 1997. The ASCII was rebranded as the Business ASCII (ビジネスアスキー) in 2008, and ceased in 2010. Its news website and the Weekly ASCII are continuing as in 2016.The LOGiN (ログイン), a computer game magazine, was first published as an extra issue of the ASCII in 1982, and the Famitsu (ファミ通) was branched from the LOGiN.

ASCII Media Works

ASCII Media Works (アスキー・メディアワークス, Asukī Media Wākusu), formerly ASCII Media Works, Inc. (株式会社アスキー・メディアワークス, Kabushiki gaisha Asukī Media Wākusu), is a Japanese publisher and brand company of Kadokawa Corporation headquartered in Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. It originally formed on April 1, 2008 as a result of a merger between ASCII Corporation and MediaWorks where MediaWorks legally absorbed ASCII. Despite this, the former president and CEO of ASCII, Kiyoshi Takano, became the first president and CEO of ASCII Media Works. It became an internal division of Kadokawa Corporation on October 1, 2013.The company specializes in publishing of books, entertainment and computer magazines, manga, and video games. ASCII Media Works is known for their Dengeki (電撃, meaning electric shock) brand magazines and book imprints which include such well-known magazines as Dengeki Daioh, and Dengeki G's Magazine, along with the company's main light novel publishing imprint Dengeki Bunko. Most of the company caters to the Japanese male otaku crowd, covering such topics as anime, light novels, manga, plastic modelling, and visual novels. The company also deals with computing and enterprises related to information technology (IT), such as the publication of Weekly ASCII, along with other PC and IT magazines. ASCII Media Works also publishes multiple magazines targeted towards females such as Character Parfait, Dengeki Girl's Style, and Sylph. The company runs yearly contests for original novel and manga submissions, such as the light novel Dengeki Novel Prize contest.

AX architecture

AX (Architecture eXtended) was a Japanese computing initiative starting in around 1986 to allow PCs to handle double-byte (DBCS) Japanese text via special hardware chips, whilst allowing compatibility with software written for foreign IBM PCs. It was developed by a consortium including ASCII Corporation, Sony, Hitachi, Sharp, Oki, Casio, Canon, Kyocera, Sanyo, Mitsubishi Electric, etc. with cooperation of Microsoft. but notably excluding Toshiba and Fujitsu (who were hence the 'opposition'). At that time, NEC PC-9801 was the dominant PC architecture in the Japanese PC market because MDA/CGA was not adequate for handling Japanese. However, NEC did not tolerate PC-9801 compatible machines and was fighting court battles with Epson which was the only PC-9801 compatible machine vendor. Therefore other vendors desperately needed a standard specification for Japanese capable PCs.

To display Kanji characters with sufficient clarity, AX machines had JEGA screens with a resolution of 640x480 rather than the 640x350 standard EGA resolution prevalent elsewhere at the time. Users could typically switch between Japanese and English modes by typing 'JP' and 'US', which would also invoke the AX-BIOS and an IME enabling the input of Japanese characters.

However, soon after the release of the AX, IBM released the VGA standard with which AX was obviously not compatible (they were not the only one promoting non-standard "super EGA" extensions). Consequently, the AX consortium had to design a compatible AX-VGA. AX-VGA/H was a hardware implementation with AX-BIOS, whereas AX-VGA/S was a software emulation.

Due to less available software and other problems, AX failed and was not able to break the PC-9801 dominance in Japan.

In 1990, IBM Japan unveiled DOS/V which enabled IBM PC/AT and its clones to display Japanese text without any additional hardware using a standard VGA card. Soon after, AX disappeared and the decline of NEC PC-9801 began.


Agetec Inc. ("ASCII Game Entertainment Technology") was an American video game publishing company that is best known for bringing Japanese titles to the United States. The company was formed through ASCII Corporation spinning off their American distribution subsidiary as an independent corporation in 1998, and later became a standalone publisher one year later.

Notable games published by Agetec include R-Type Delta, Armored Core series, and the King's Field series, as well as the "designer series" of RPG Maker and Fighter Maker. Other notable games published by them include Magic Pengel and Cookie & Cream and their best selling fishing titles Bass Landing and Fisherman's Bass Club, plus Disaster Report and its sequel, Raw Danger. Most recently they had developed Cookie & Cream with FromSoftware and published it in the United States. As of May 2018, many of the Agetec games that were formatted for the Nintendo ports were delisted or removed from the Nintendo eShop in North America.


Castlequest (known in Japan as Castle Excellent (キャッスルエクセレント, Kyassuru Ekuserento)) is an adventure/puzzle-hybrid video game. It was developed and published by ASCII Corporation in 1985 for the FM-7, PC-88, and Sharp X1. Additional versions followed in 1986 for the Famicom and MSX, and was subsequently released in 1989 for the NES in the United States by Nexoft Corporation.

It is the sequel to The Castle, released in 1985 for the MSX, SG-1000, and other systems (though not the NES). Like that game, it is an early example of the Metroidvania genre.

Gilman Louie

Gilman Louie (born 1960) is a technology venture capitalist who got his start as a video game designer and then ran the CIA venture capital fund In-Q-Tel. He graduated in 1983 from San Francisco State University. He attended the six-week Advanced Management Program (AMP) at Harvard Business School in 1997.

Kazuhiko Nishi

Kazuhiko "Kay" Nishi (西 和彦, Nishi Kazuhiko, born February 10, 1956 in Kobe, Japan) is a Japanese businessman and personal computer pioneer.

Nishi's father ran a private school. Nishi attended Waseda University but dropped out to help found the first Japanese computer magazine, I/O. Shortly thereafter he launched ASCII magazine (a Japanese equivalent of Byte or Creative Computing) and, in 1978, ASCII Corporation, which began by making a rough translation from English to Japanese of the game Wizardry. Around the same time he met and became friends with Microsoft founder Bill Gates.In Japan, Nishi worked with NEC on developing the PC-8001, an early consumer-ready personal computer not requiring assembly, which became a standard in Japan, and was involved in the design of the Kyotronic 85 which, sold to Radio Shack, became the TRS-80 Model 100, an early laptop computer.Nishi's relationship with Bill Gates helped ASCII Corporation to grow. MSX, a new personal computer format, was jointly developed by Microsoft and ASCII Corporation for the Japanese market. But Nishi and Gates fell out, the partnership was dissolved in 1986, and Microsoft set up its own Japanese software subsidiary. But ASCII Corporation continued to thrive.Under Nishi's direction, ASCII Corporation invested heavily in American startups in the electronics industry. By 1992 ASCII Corporation was heavily in debt and its stock price collapsed. At the direction of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Industrial Bank of Japan and other banks bailed out the company, which rebounded.ASCII Corporation became a subsidiary of Kadokawa Group Holdings in 2004, and merged with another Kadokawa subsidiary MediaWorks on April 1, 2008, and became ASCII Media Works.After 1986, Nishi wrote for newspapers and authored a number of books. He sat in several committees on behalf of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and he is a member of the Committee for World Economy in the 21st Century. Nishi is the president of MSX Association, a private organization originating from an assembly of people with affinity with the MSX standard, and the president of Digital do MaiN, audio engineering company.In 2005, Nishi ran unsuccessfully for president of a small university in rural Japan.

List of Game Boy games

The Game Boy portable system has a library of games, which were released in plastic ROM cartridges. The Game Boy first launched in Japan on April 21, 1989 with Super Mario Land, Alleyway, Baseball and Yakuman. For the North American launches, Tetris and Tennis were also featured, while Yakuman was never released outside of Japan. The last games to be published for the system were the Japan-only titles Shikakei Atama o Kore Kusuru: Kanji no Tatsujin and Shikakei Atama o Kore Kusuru: Keisan no Tatsujin, which were both released on March 30, 2001. This list is initially organized alphabetically by their English titles, or, when Japan-exclusive, their rōmaji transliterations; however, it is also possible to sort each column individually by clicking the square icon at the top of each column. The Game Boy system is not region locked, meaning that software purchased in any region can be played on any region's hardware.

List of Megami Tensei media

Megami Tensei is a series of role-playing video games primarily developed and published by Atlus. It began in 1987 with the Famicom game Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei, and has since spawned several spin-offs and sub-series, such as Shin Megami Tensei, Persona and Devil Summoner. In addition to the console and computer releases, there are Megami Tensei mobile games, several of which are developed by Menue. The series also includes additional media, such as anime series and films, manga, and a live-action television series, and has seen several music album releases.

The series has several recurring themes, including demon-summoning, Japanese folklore, and the occult. Despite its thematic roots in Japanese culture and mythology, it has found a cult following internationally.

List of Nintendo Entertainment System accessories

This is a list of accessories released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (known in Japan as the Family Computer, or Famicom) by Nintendo and other various Third Party manufacturers.


MSX is a standardized home computer architecture, announced by Microsoft on June 16, 1983. It was conceived and marketed by Kazuhiko Nishi, then vice-president at Microsoft Japan and director at ASCII Corporation. Nishi conceived the project as an attempt to create unified standards among various home computing system manufacturers of the period.MSX systems were popular in Japan and several other countries. It is difficult to determine how many MSX computers were sold worldwide, but eventually 5 million MSX-based units were sold in Japan alone. Despite Microsoft's involvement, few MSX-based machines were released in the United States.Before the great success of Nintendo's Family Computer, MSX was the platform for which major Japanese game studios such as Konami and Hudson Soft produced video games. The Metal Gear series, for example, was first written for MSX hardware.


Megalit (メガリット, Megaritto) is a 1991 third party puzzle-solving strategy game developed by ASCII Corporation. It was published for the Nintendo Game Boy by Asmik Ace Entertainment in Japan and Takara in North America and Europe. Megalit was first released in Japan on August 9, 1991. It was not released until December 1992 in North America and Europe.


Otocky (オトッキー) is a video game released in 1987 for the Family Computer Disk System in Japan. Developed by SEDIC and published by ASCII Corporation, the game was conceived and designed by Toshio Iwai. Natsuki Ozawa endorsed the game.

R800 (CPU)

The R800 is the central processing unit used in the MSX Turbo-R home computer. The R800 was designed by ASCII Corporation of Japan and built by Mitsui & Co., Ltd.. The goals were to have the fastest CPU possible, while maintaining compatibility with old MSX Zilog Z80-based hardware and software.

Shift JIS

Shift JIS (Shift Japanese Industrial Standards, also SJIS, MIME name Shift_JIS) is a character encoding for the Japanese language, originally developed by a Japanese company called ASCII Corporation in conjunction with Microsoft and standardized as JIS X 0208 Appendix 1. 0.4% of all web pages used Shift JIS in September 2018, a decline from 1.3% in July 2014.

Solid Runner

Solid Runner (ソリッドランナー) is a 1997 role-playing video game developed by Sting Entertainment and published by ASCII Corporation for the Super Famicom.

The Castle (video game)

The Castle is a computer game released by ASCII Corporation in 1986 for the FM-7 and X1 computers. It was later ported to the MSX and NEC branded personal computers, and got a single console port for the SG-1000. The game is set within a castle containing 100 rooms, most of which contain one or more puzzles. The object of the game is to navigate through the Castle to rescue the Princess. The player can push certain objects throughout the game to accomplish progress. In some rooms, the prince can only advance to the next room by aligning cement blocks, Honey Jars, Candle Cakes, and Elevator Controlling Block. Additionally, the player's progress is blocked by many doors requiring a key of the same color to unlock, and a key is removed from the player's inventory upon use. The prince must be standing on a platform next to the door to be able to unlock it, and cannot simply jump or fall and press against the door. The player can navigate the castle with the help of a map that can be obtained early in the game. The map will provide the player with a matrix of 10x10 rooms and will highlight the room in which the princess is located and the rooms that he had visited. The player must also avoid touching enemies like Knights, Bishops, Wizards, Fire Spirits, Attack Cats and Phantom Flowers.

It was followed by Castlequest (also known as Castle Excellent in Japan). Both games are notable as early examples of the Metroidvania genre.

Turbo File (ASCII)

The Turbo File devices from ASCII Corporation are external storage devices for saving game positions on various Nintendo consoles. The devices have been sold only in Japan, and they are mainly supported by ASCII's own games.

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