The PC Engine, known as the TurboGrafx-16 outside Japan, is a fourth-generation home video game console designed by Hudson Soft and sold by NEC Home Electronics. It was the first console marketed in the fourth generation of game consoles, commonly known as the 16-bit era, though the console has an 8-bit central processing unit (CPU). It was released in Japan in 1987 and in North America in 1989. In Europe, the console is known as the PC Engine, after the Japanese model was imported and distributed in the United Kingdom and France from 1989. In Japan, the system was launched as a competitor to the Famicom, but the delayed United States release meant that it ended up competing with the Sega Genesis and later the Super NES.
The console has an 8-bit CPU and a dual 16-bit graphics processing unit (GPU) chipset consisting of a video display controller (VDC) and video color encoder. The GPUs are capable of displaying 482 colors simultaneously, out of 512. With dimensions of just 14 cm × 14 cm × 3.8 cm (5.5 in × 5.5 in × 1.5 in), the Japanese PC Engine is the smallest major home game console ever made.Games were released on HuCard cartridges and later the CD-ROM optical format with the TurboGrafx-CD add-on. The "16" in its North American name and the marketing of the console as a 16-bit platform despite having an 8-bit CPU was criticized by some as deceptive.
In Japan, the PC Engine was very successful. It gained strong third-party support and outsold the Famicom at its 1987 debut, eventually becoming the Super Famicom's main rival. However, the TurboGrafx-16 failed to break into the North American market and sold poorly, which has been blamed on the delayed release and inferior marketing.
At least 17 distinct models of the console were made, including portable versions and those that integrated the CD-ROM add-on. An enhanced model, the PC Engine SuperGrafx, was rushed to market in 1989. It featured many performance enhancements and was intended to supersede the standard PC Engine. It failed to catch on—only six titles were released that took advantage of the added power and it was quickly discontinued. The final model was discontinued in 1994. It was succeeded by the PC-FX, which was released only in Japan and was not successful.