Way back in 1997 I received a few images of something called a Famicom Studybox found by someone I unfortunately have forgotten all about. The story gets even better now, cause I can't even remember how he obtained it
or from where he got it. But as he had no tape for the system he had no way of testing it.
Well fast forward to March 2007, I discovered that a Studybox was being auctioned off on ebay, priced $100. My curiosity persuaded my wallet into purchasing the device. So here we are a few years later and I've decided to dig up a
little information about the Studybox, such as what it was used for - it doesn't seem like a consumer product.
The company responsible for the device was Fukutake Publishing, later known as Benesse Corporation, a company that specialized in educational material for schools and such. The device sits on top of the Famicom unit and is pretty much just a
cassette tape player, meaning it reads the Famicom games off cassette tapes, kinda like the Commodore64.
The Studybox requires its own power source and the 10V adapter from my SegaCD worked flawlessly. As said, games are read off cassette tapes but the Studybox has no play, rewind or any other buttons. But once
the device is powered with a tape inside, it will automaticly start reading the tape and present you with a chapter selection screen.
Once the chapter selection screen appears the Famicom controller is used to select chapter. The start button on the joypad then activates loading of the selected chapter.
As my japanese is extremely rusty I havn't been able to make much sense of the one tape I have available to me, but some sweet speech sequences are run and once chapter 3 is reached you, in this specific game, is
given some answers to choose from, and that's where my studybox adventure ended.
Apparently there is more than one version of the Studybox, mine is the SBX-01 which supposedly is the third version, while the first version was called Studybox 1000.
Picture courtesy of famicom.chu.jp
It appears that the Studybox 1000 was pretty similar to the Famicom Disk System, it was using the same RAM adapter mold and had an external tape device. It was supposedly released around 1986. I've never seen a
Studybox 1000 up for sale any where, so I believe they were released in limited quantities.
As for the software, a set of English "classes" which included a total of 12 tapes. English+ "classes" which was another 5 or so tapes. Science "classes" which were another 12 tapes and finally Math "classes"
which were yet another 12 tapes. All classes were supposedly made for 3rd year elementary, but I would be wrong on that one.
Cassettes are one sided, so no flip side.
All in all it's a pretty nice piece of Famicom history, but why Fukutake didn't just use the Famicom Disk System that was already available I don't know, maybe this thing was just easier for students to use and maybe
the cassette tape would be able to hold more data? (as the programs do contain a lot of speech)