All people of my age, when it comes to hear of SEGA or to see the distinctive blue logo, are led to remember the countless creations, both hardware and software, of this prolific Japanese manufacturer, exclusively devoted to video game market. Particularly, the arcade rooms were full of legendary video games produced by this very active organization.
Among the different creatures came from the SEGA factories, detaches the console I am going to talk about: the SG-1000, Mark II version, i.e. revision 2 of the machine originally sold in 1983, marketed the following year.
This object was not very popular in Europe, where people widely preferred the computer variant, namely that the SEGA SC-3000, in substance, was identical to the console, except for the addition of a membrane keyboard with rubber keys, such as those of the most famous and popular ZX Spectrum. In fact, the software ran identically on both Hardware incarnations.
SEGA took care to produce an external keyboard, to connect to console expansion port, that turned itself into a real computer. But there were two separate components, and costs for end users were obviously higher, compared to SC-3000 variant.
The item in my possession is made in Japan, adhering to the NTSC standard.
The hardware features were interesting for the time: NEC built a dedicated microprocessor, compatible with the Z80, which ran at about 3.5 MHz in the PAL version, and just as quickly in the NTSC version; graphics section was entrusted to a dedicated coprocessor, provided by Texas Instruments (the famous TMS9918), equipped with 12KB of RAM dedicated to video, 2KB dedicated to the system, 4 mono audio channels, and presented a video resolution of 256×192 pixels at 16 colors.
The manufacturer adopted a particular device design, that allowed the anchoring of the joypads (that could be screwed to a small joystick) to the sides of the chassis, making it a very pleasant object to be shown next to your TV.
This console has a decent number of interesting games and SEGA BASIC, if still nowadays the subject of exchanges and discussions by the usual community of enthusiasts. The most important of them is - with no doubt at all - SMS Power.
After one more year, SEGA further improved the Mark II contents , expanding the memory and video capabilities, thus realizing the Mark III, which later became the famous Sega Master System – SMS for friends. 🙂