From Sega Retro
The SG-1000 (Sega Game 1000), known in New Zealand as the Sega 1000, is a cartridge-based video game console released in 1983 by Sega. It stands as Sega's first entry into the video game console market, and though was not seen as a huge success, gave the company more experience when dealing with future systems. It is now a rare and often sought after console.
Its computer counterpart, released during the same period, is the SC-3000.
The SG-1000 is a top-loading cartridge based video game console with a white and grey plastic finish. Compared to many other systems from around this era the SG-1000 sports a relatively simplistic design - a power switch, RF output and expansion port on the back, and a red reset button at the front. The first controller (a SJ-200) is hard-wired into the unit and cannot be easily removed; however, a second controller can be connected through a DE-9 port on the right-hand side of the unit. It appears that some models have a short lead ending in a DE-9 port instead of the hard-wired controller.
Internally the SG-1000 is roughly on par with the ColecoVision and original MSX standard, though has differing amounts of RAM. The similarities likely explain why the Telegames Personal Arcade is compatible with both the ColecoVision and SG-1000, and how in recent years a number of SG-1000 games have been unofficially ported to the ColecoVision (such as Doki Doki Penguin Land and Girl's Garden). In Taiwan and South Korea, several MSX games have also been ported to the SG-1000.
The SG-1000 is a much flatter console than people expect - its odd shape and aesthetics give the impression that it is a taller system than it actually is.
Controls were an issue for the SG-1000 - the SJ-200 is often criticised for being stiff and unresponsive, and should it break, there is no easy way to replace it. All future consoles by Sega would allow both controllers to be removed.
The SK-1100 keyboard is designed to be plugged into the back of the SG-1000, bringing the unit closer to the offerings of the SC-3000.
The SG-1000 was first released to the Japanese market in July 1983 for ¥15,000. It was a minor success for Sega, but was held back from the start due to sharing the same release date as the Nintendo Famicom. It is rumoured to have been test marketed as early as 1981, being kept in stasis while kinks were ironed out in certain SC-3000 utility software.
Despite having some initial support from the likes of Konami, the console was largely abandoned by 1985, though staggered on to the late date of 1987 with Loretta no Shouzou: Sherlock Holmes symbolising the last official Japanese release. Early models in Japan had black labels and a slightly different logo (sometimes referred to as the "German Model" due to similarities with the German flag), but these are a considerably rarer sighting.
In Japan the SG-1000 initially saw competition in the form of the likes of Epoch, Tomy, Takara, Bandai, Casio and Nichibutsu, all of which were wiped off the market by the Famicom's success. The SG-1000 fared much better than all of these systems, mostly due to a library of Sega-exclusive arcade games brought to the system though was never able to maintain a dominant position in the market. Furthremore, its computer counterpart, the SC-3000, contains all the feature of the SG-1000 and more, and therefore made a considerable dent in SG-1000 sales.
The only known release outside of Japan for the original SG-1000 model was New Zealand where it was distributed and badged by Grandstand. Neither the console or any of it's variants ever reached North America, but the SC-3000 was released in Australia (John Sands), New Zealand (Grandstand), France (ITMC), Italy (Melchioni), and Finland (Digital Systems). As a result, the SG-1000 likely stands as Sega's worst performing video game console on record in terms of units sold, but Sega likely still profited from the venture.
In July 1984, Sega released an updated version of the console called the SG-1000 II, which moved the rear expansion port to the front of the system (used for the SK-1100 keyboard) and updated the controllers with an appearance similar to that of the Famicom. Outside of Japan the SG-1000 II is only known to have made it to Taiwan where it was distributed and badged by Aaronix.
Sega were very experimental during the early days, licensing game manufacturer Tsukuda Original with the rights to produce the Othello Multivision, an SG-1000 clone. An early plan of action seems to have been to create a computer game standard, allowing companies to focus more on games than on hardware - something which later be realised in Japan with the MSX, at the expense of the SG-1000.
Bit Corp produced the Dina 2 in one SG-1000 clone, likely without a license, which also had the ability to run ColecoVision games. In North America this was distributed by Telegames as the Telegames Personal Arcade. The SG-1000 was also released in "module" form as the Pioneer TV Video Game Pack SD-G5.
Ultimately all SG-1000/SC-3000 variations failed to capture the market share Sega had been aiming for, leading to the creation of the Sega Mark III, another revision of the hardware in Japan with improved video hardware and an increased amount of RAM. This would later be the basis of the Sega Master System, and both the Japanese Mark III and Master System are backwards compatible with the SG-1000. Many unlicensed Master System games run in the mode intended for SG-1000 compatibility, and are therefore, in a sense, SG-1000 games.
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