PANAFACOM (known as PFU since 1987) released the PANAFACOM Lkit-16, a 16-bit microcomputer (microprocessor) learning kit, in March 1977. The kit was developed to popularize 16-bit microcomputers in an era when 8-bit microcomputers were commonplace. Main unit price was \98,000.

The PANAFACOM Lkit-16 was equipped with the MN1610, the nation’s first 16-bit single-chip microprocessor developed by PANAFACOM. The MN1610 was announced under the name PANAFACOM-16A in April 1975 and completed in August of that year. The completed microprocessor was exhibited at the 1975 Western Electronic Show and Convention (WESCON) in San Francisco and at the IEEE in Toronto. The MN1610 appeared in the same year as the world’s first 16-bit single-chip microprocessors appeared.

Because of its 16-bit microprocessor, the Lkit-16 featured much better cost performance than previous 8-bit microcomputers, with about twice the speed and about sixty percent of the memory usage. The Lkit-16’s main specifications and distinctive features are given below.

Main hardware specifications

  • CPU: MN1610 (2 MHz clock, 16-bit parallel processing)
  • ROM: 1 KW (maximum 2 KW)
  • RAM: 0.5 KW (maximum 1 KW)
  • I/O port: MN1630 sub-channel adaptor (8-bit data width)
  • Other hardware: equipped with an interface that could be used with an audio cassette or color graphics

Distinctive features

  • Keyboard for simplified assembler input
    Entering program code was easy with a one-step assembler that could be input directly using 48 assembler keys
  • Console functions that allowed easy debugging
    Check programs through one-step execution of programs or by setting the execution interruption location or interruption timing
  • Audio cassette interface for data I/O
  • Tiny BASIC, a simple programming language
    Tiny BASIC was an easy interpreter-based programming language. Including this language that was popular among users at the time, the Lkit-16 contributed to the expansion of computer knowledge from would-be engineers to amateur users who were interested in microcomputers.