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The History of Sega

From Service Games to Master Systems

Service Games began life in the 1950's. Founded in Japan by David Rosen, its purpose was to transport amusement machines and install them on US military bases.

Sega itself did not exist until 1965, when Rosen developed his own line of coin operated arcade machines. Stamping them with the Sega name, they would be the first of many arcade machines built by the company. Sega was bought out by Gulf & Western 5 years later.

1981, and Sega of Japan released its first true hit, Frogger. Simply guide the frog across the road, while dodging cars, then cross the river over logs, while dodging crocodiles and the like. A simple idea worked to perfection, and Sega were on the road.

That next year, Sega developed three firsts. Its first laser-disc arcade title, Astron Belt, its first 3D game, SubRoc-3D, and its first home entertainment console, the SG-1000 (not to be confused with Stargate). It was here that the rivalry between Sega and another Japanese computer entertainment company, Nintendo, began. Nintendo was also on the scene with the Famicom (family computer). Sega of Japan would become Sega Enterprises Ltd. in 1983. Meanwhile, the American based arm of the company, who mainly developed software for the SG-1000, was sold to Bally (later to become Midway).

Sega's first big move to tackle the Japanese giant Famicom would be the Master System in 1985. Similar in style to the Famicom, the system had two control ports, and a rectangle shaped control pad. It's success came mainly from early titles such as Hang On. Although it didn't put a major dent into Famicom sales, the Master System sold strongly, and in 1987 was released in the Western market. At that time, Nintendo had a major chunk of the retail pie. Super Mario Bros. and Metroid had kids around the world glued to the screen. And although arcade titles Space Harrier, Outrun and After Burner were crowd pleasers, Sega's main aim was to take as much out of Nintendo's lead as possible.

As the 8-bit era came to a close, it was clear that something new was in the works. Both Nintendo and Sega planned their next big console systems, and as the 90's rolled in, Sega was the first to strike.

Continued: Life as a Genesis

Table of Contents: The History of Sega