Taito was founded by Michael Kogan in 1953 as the Taito Trading Company as an import company. They first stated by importing vodka, vending machines and jukeboxes into Japan. By 1973, they entered the very lucrative video market with the release of Soccer and Davis Cup and imposed themselves as a major player 5 years later with the release of Space Invaders.
By 1985, Taito entered the Karaoke Market with the X-2000, the first on-line karaoke in the world, using a phone line to connect to the online services. At the beginning of the 90’s, Taito started to work on the Taito WoWoW, a new online video game console that would use the same technologies to stream games from the Internet. Although the WoWoW would never see the light of day, Taito decided to instead release a home karaoke system that would include the ability to stream games.
In December 1995, Taito finally released the X-55, the first online karaoke system for home users. The system was built around a 9,600 bps modem. The system would allow to “reserve” up to 10 songs in advance which would allow them to be downloaded in the background while a song was being played by the system. At release, the Taito catalog would include more than 10,000 songs The X-55 also released with two available games Space Invaders 1995 and Cleopatra Fortune with the promise of 10 other games to be released in 1996.
Although the X-55 did fairly well with around 200,000 units sold, Taito decided to release a new version that would be both cheaper and have a faster connection speed. In 1996, Taito released a successor to the X-55 called the Mediabox M-88. The M-88 introduced a 14,400bps modem which would reduce the average download time for a song to 35 seconds. The Mediabox M-88 stayed the gold standard of online karaoke system until 2002 where Taito released the X-01, the last model in their online karaoke series. At the time, home console such as the PlayStation 2 not only had plenty of karaoke games, but it also serves as a DVD drive, which was a big selling point. At this point, Taito had no choice but to provide an updated version to stay relevant in this ever-changing market.
Released in 2002, the Mediabox X-01 would be Taito last entry in the online karaoke business. Fairly similar to the Mediabox M-88 in terms of capabilities, the X-01 would add the ability to read DVD/VCD as well as an upgrade to the internal modem. The new modem, a 56,000 bps, would be more than sufficient to download seamlessly most song and games.
Being an online console, there was the services fee for almost everything including ¥1,500 per month for the activation fee, ¥30 per songs played, ¥50 per games played, etc.
In 2009, Taito sold his commercial online karaoke business to Xing which continued to provide support until September 30, 2012 when the service was finally discontinued. Although not a direct successor, Xing would go on in 2013 to release another karaoke machine with video game capabilities with the JOYSOUND FESTA, which was based on the Wii U hardware.
This is an incomplete list of available games for the systems:
- Space Invaders 1995
- Cleopatra Fortune+
- Quiz Monoshiri Ichizoku – Yoake Maki
- Quiz Monoshiri Ichizoku – Yūyake Maki
- Puzzle Bobble
- Honkaku Mahjong Kōshi – Mahjong Company
- Royal Golf
- Puzzle Bobble EX
- Honkaku Gomokunarabe – Goshasei
- Honkaku Shōgi – Kishinsen
- Othello Game