Daves Old Computers - Sega

Sega (SErvice GAmes) was once the number-2 contender in home video game consoles, and Nintendos biggest rival. In recent years, Sega has left the hardware business and now makes games for the very systems they used to compete with.

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Master System

The Master System was Sega's first home console, and proved very popular. There are two versions of the Master System. The Model 3000 shown here came with the Hang-On/Safari-Hunt cartridge shown. The Model 3010 which is identical in appearance (except for the model-number on the bottom) had these two games built-in and would activate them if no cartridge was inserted. The light gun and two hand controllers shown were standard equipment for the Master System.

Games for the Master System came in two forms: cartridges which are inserted in the slot on top of the unit, and cards which are inserted into a slot in the front. The cards are more limited, and less common that the cartridges.


The Genesis was originally called the "Mega Drive", but was changed to Genesis in North America due to trademark problems. The machine on the left is the original Genesis console, while the one on the right is the smaller Genesis-II console. Both consoles are functionally identical.

This machine contains a Motorola 68000 CPU for it's main processing, and a Zilog Z80 as an auxiliary sound controller. This was a powerful system in it's day with graphics and sound far superior to 8-bit systems. The system was capable of real-time two player games, and could support more that two controllers with a multi-player tap.

There were many different Sega and third party controllers available for the Genesis. Including standard three-button controllers and enhanced six-button & Turbo controllers.

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These are Segas "Sonic the Hedgehog" games for the Genesis. Lower left is the original Sonic cartridge that came with some Genesis packages and introduced Segas mascot to the world.

Sonic-2 extends the play and adds a two player mode where you race across the levels in split-screen. Sonic-3 expands to truly huge levels and adds the ability to save game status on the cartridge. Sonic-3D BLAST is one of only a few 3-dimensional games issued for 16-bit systems. Sonic Spinball sees Sonic racing madly through a pinball game,

"Sonic and Knuckles" is one of the most unique Genesis games - it features a connector on top of the cartridge that let you "lock on" Sonic2 or Sonic3 to expand those games with new levels and characters.

The Game Genie" is another device to enhance games - but it does it by hacking the games code as it loads into the Genesis. With the right code, you could have infinite lives, the most powerful weapons, or strange and bizarre effects the game designers never intended!


The SegaCD is an add-on that turns a Sega Genesis console into a CD based system. Shown here with the sleeker Genesis-II that it was designed for, but either console could be used. The 1x CD offered lower-than anticipated performance, and the cost of the unit was higher than many gamers wanted to pay, so it never really caught on - but it's an interesting unit and shows just how expandable the Genesis design was.

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The Saturn was a revolutionary design with two 32-bit processors - but most game developers did not know how to take advantage of them. This resulted in fewer releases and lower than expected performance. Sega didn't give developers enough time to be ready with titles when the Saturn was launched, and discontinued the console before may had recovered the money they had invested in getting up to speed... This left a bad impression and caused some game developers to abandon Sega, which started the companies downfall as a console maker.

The Saturn here is shown with the "Arcade Stick" controller, so far the only Saturn controller I have found - we need more Saturn artifacts, if you can help, please contact me.

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The console that should have taken the world by storm! The Dreamcast had everything you could want. Small size, impressive performance, great graphics, networking and internet capable (internal modem), lots of "cool" peripherals and more. You could even add a keyboard and mouse for computer functionality, including email and an internet browser! Often compared to the PS2 in performance it beat Sony to market by over a year ... but Sega's reputation never recovered from the Saturn fiasco, and their last and best console faded into obvilion.

On the left is the standard "white" Dreamcast, while the unit on the right is a special black "Sports Edition".

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The controllers are unique - and not just because the connecting cord exits from the bottom... Note the window. The left controller has a VMU (Visual Memory Unit) installed - this memory card has it's own LCD display and buttons. You can manipulate your files and even play games as a separate "mini system". The right controller has the expansion sockets empty, while the lower one has a standard (non-visual) memory card installed.

In this picture, you can see the bottom and end sockets of the controller. Note that a controller can hold TWO expansions. The left controller is shown with the VMU in the top slot, and a "rumble pak" in the lower slot.

Software for the Dreamcast shipped on GD-ROM disks. Looking like CD's, these disks hold 1.2M of data each.

At the lower left, we see the Browser disk that came with the Dreamcast - Thanks to it's internal modem and software such as this, the Dreamcast has internet capability. You could even get a keyboard and mouse for it. Next on the right is "Phantasy Star Online" - A multi-player networked role-playing game that set the Dreamcast apart from all other systems of the time.

Game Gear

Sega's first portable, the Game Gear featured a color screen, and compatibility with Master System cartridges through an adapter. A popular and capable unit, it should have blown Nintendos monochrome GameBoy away, but battery life was terrible, it was more expensive, larger and some complained that the screen was "washed out".

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My favorite portable system, the Nomad is essentially a Genesis in your hand. With a large bright color screen, it plays all Genesis games. There's even a connector for a second controller on the bottom for two player games. ... So why aren't there millions of them around?

Like the Game Gear, battery life was not good - Sega offered the rechargable packs shown, but these attach on the outside of the unit making it larger and heavy. And Genesis cartridges were not originally designed to be portable - lacking the restraining socket design of other portables, sudden movements could shift the cartridge and cause the game to crash (especially with older/dirty cartridges). But the biggest reason had to be price. The Nomad was EXPENSIVE! - I recall drooling over them for a long time before I bought mine during a clearout after they were discontinued - I still paid over $200 for it!

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Copyright 2004-2009 Dave Dunfield.