We get a lot of email from people desperate to find out more about Sega - specifically about the history of their consoles. So, for the benefit of those inquisitive readers, we now present the first UK:Resistance educational feature about the history and development of Sega Enterprises Ltd's home consoles.
The key moment in Sega's early history came in 1952 with the advert pictured to the left. The world was just getting to grips with the new idea of advertising slogans and clever marketing, and when Sega's design team came up with the classic "They're happy because they play Sega" campaign, the advertising world was rocked to it's very foundations, and it took the company to a whole new level of public awareness.
However, it wasn't until two years later that Sega released their first games console - the Sega Game-O-Matic. Of course, technology wasn't too advanced in 1954, and the large building-sized console could only play one game, which was based upon memorising a sequence of binary integers and extrapolating the mean correlation average. Unsurprisingly, with a $12,999 price tag and one mathematical game, the Game-O-Matic failed to catch on. Sega stopped producing the machine in 1956, and went back to their core fruit machine business.
Undaunted by the failure of their first games machine, Sega continued with their development into the new gaming territory, and the result was the release of the Game-O-Matic II just in time for the Christmas rush of 1960. The Game-O-Matic II was unique in the fact that it had it's own built-in TV screen, however the two inch screen was notoriously unreliable, and reports of radiation sickness and blindness lead to a swift end to production in 1961, and Sega went back to their core fruit machine business.
(Pictured) An engineer monitors an early version of the Sega Game-O-Matic II
It wasn't until 1968 that Sega ventured back into the home gaming market - the revolutionary Psychadelitron used a complicated system of flashing lights and effects to produce a 'drug-free' hallucinogenic experience. However, after a series of high-profile test failures, resulting in the need for several emergency lobotomys among Sega development staff, the Psychadelitron never received a public launch. Unsurprisingly, Sega retreated back into their core fruit machine business.
(Pictured) An early promotional advert for the never-to-be-released Psychadelitron, circa 1969
Eight years later, and the ever-increasing technology levels of 1977 meant a new direction for Sega - the huge data storage potential of the eight-track tape device lead to a new machine, the SuperEight, which was aimed primarily at the educational market. The basic machine was little more than a suitcase-sized box with a slot for inserting the eight-track tape cartridges, and this was the first Sega machine that plugged straight into a normal television. The games were strictly non-interactive - the educational nature of the software was more like a stream of information and figures, with more complicated tites coming on as many as nine cartridges. Unfortunately, due to manufacturing delays, the SuperEight was released just as the initial excitement surrounding eight-track technology was fading, and after 18 months of manufacturing, and sales of just a few hundred in the UK, Sega pulled the plug on the SuperEight and returned to their core fruit machine business.
1981 saw Sega changing direction once again. This time a portable pocket-sized machine called the Game and Go! which was obviously based on Nintendo's popular Game 'n' Watch toys. Sega had the innovative idea of making removable battery packs which could be recharged whenever needed (the first ever rechargable battery), but the chemical used in the recharging process was linked to cancer and birth defects, and shortly after the machine's launch the batteries were banned by the United Nations Health Council. Even though Sega countered the problem by releasing a mains power adaptor, the damage had been done, and Nintendo's much-criticised simple but effective 1982 advertising campaign "Sega gives you cancer" (pictured) put the final nails into the Game and Go!'s coffin (and started the Sega/Nintendo rivalry), and Sega returned to their core fruit machine business.
So there you have it. I'm sure you all know the details of what happened later with the Master System and the Megadrive, so there ends our story. Hope you've found it very informative.
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