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Sega Master System

After the relative failures of the Sega SG1000 and mark II consoles, Sega launched their Mark III console, which also could not put a dent in Nintendo’s market share in either its native country or the US, largely due to third party games developers not being allowed to produce games for other companies if they had a license from Nintendo, so Sega looked to a third territory, where there was little or no competition from its rival.

It chose Europe, a territory Nintendo had made only a lethargic attempt to launch the NES in, and after initial problems with demand over supply late in 1987, the Sega Master System hit the ground running, especially after Virgin Mastertronic took over Europe wide distribution of the console, and was soon attracting the top European software houses to produce games for it, Sega themselves concentrated on getting ports of Sega’s arcade classics to the system, Virgin Mastertronic marketed the it as a technologically superior alternative to the ageing ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64.

The Master System held a strong market position for Sega in Europe, to launch their new Megadrive console in 1990, after this a redesigned, simpler machine was launched at a low price point, to counter the late successes of the NES in the European territories.

It featured a handy reset button, a card slot (allowing the use of some pretty wacky peripherals such as the 3d glasses and a small variety of card-only games) and a very 80s, very interesting pyramid shaped design.

* CPU: 8-bit Zilog Z80A
o 3.5 MHz for PAL/SECAM, 3.6 MHz for NTSC
o Up to 32 simultaneous colors available (one 16-color palette for sprites or background, an additional 16-color palette for background only) from a palette of 64 (can also show 64 simultaneous colors using programming tricks)
o Screen resolutions 256×192 and 256×224. PAL/SECAM also supports 256×240
o 8×8 pixel characters, max 463 (due to VRAM space limitation)
o 8×8 or 8×16 pixel sprites, max 64
o Horizontal, vertical, and partial screen scrolling
o 4 channel mono sound (3 Square Waves, 1 White Noise)
o 3 tone generators, 10 octaves each, 1 white noise generator
o Sound (FM): Yamaha YM2413
o mono FM synthesis
o switchable between 9 tone channels or 6 tone channels + 5 percussion channels
o Included as built-in "accessory" with Japanese Master System (1987)
o supported by certain games only
o Boot ROM: 64 kbit (8 KB) to 2048 kbit (256 KB), depending on built-in game
o Main RAM: 64 kbit (8 KB), can be supplemented by game cartridges
o Video RAM: 128 kbit (16 KB)
o Game Card slot (not available in the Master System II)
o Game Cartridge slot (not included on newer Brazilian models, as these have built-in games)
o Japanese and South Korean consoles use vertical shaped 44-pin cartridges, the same shape as SG-1000 and Mark II
o All other consoles use 50-pin cartridges[6] with a horizontal shape
o The difference in cartridge style is a form of regional lockout

Manufacturer: Sega
Date: 1987

Other Systems Related To Sega Master System:

Item Manufacturer Date
Sega SC-3000 Sega 1983

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH4034. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Sega Master System

  Games Archive   [121]

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