For most of us today, when we think of Sega we think of their highly successful range of games consoles, from the Sega Master System (1987) to the Dreamcast in 1998. Few people are aware that their first console - the SG-1000 was also a home computer.
According to Wikipedia, Sega began life in 1940 as the Standard Games company in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1951 the company moved "to Tokyo, Japan to develop and distribute coin-operated amusement-type games" and was renamed Service Games. During the 1970s Sega caught the wave of arcade video machines, becoming one of the most successful arcade game manufacturers of the time.
In 1983 Sega released its first home video console, the SG-1000, on the same day as the Nintendo Family Computer (Famicom), which was to become sold as the NES. The SG was powered by an NEC clone of the Zilog Z80A CPU, had a cartridge slot, and two joystick ports, but had no keyboard. At the same time Sega released the SC-3000 home computer; the hardware specification was identical to the SG-1000, but in a home computer form factor. Mainly sold in Japan, it was also distributed in the Australia and New Zealand Markets.
Two model of the SC-3000 were released; the SC-3000 having a rubber keyboard similar to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and the SC-3000H having a full-stroke typewriter style keyboard. Being designed as a games console it had fairly good graphics and sound for its time, using Texas Instruments chips. BASIC was not built in, but was provided as an optional plug-in cartridge. The BASIC cartridge was available in two forms; the 16KB RAM BASIC Level IIIA, and the 32KB BASIC Level IIIB. An expansion option, the SF-7000 was later offered which added a 3" Floppy drive, RS-232C and Centronics parallel ports along with 64KB RAM.
CPU: 3.58MHz NEC D780C-1 (Z80A clone) RAM: 16K (BASIC Level III A), 32KB (BASIC Level III B), 64KB (SF-7000) ROM: 32Kb Sound: 3 Channel + 2 noise, TI SN-76489AN PCM audio processor. Graphics: 256x192 16 colour, TI TMS9918 VDP
What if I told you that one man invented modern computing? That he had the vision of how computers could augment our collective intelligence and would forever change our lives? What if I told you he had this vision in 1951 and that he gave a live demo in 1968 that would fundamentally shape computing for the next 40 years?
Doug Engelbart is behind many of the inventions of modern computing; notably networks, time sharing (multitasking), heypertext, the mouse and the GUI. He did all of this because of a single goal he decided while driving to work one Monday morning in 1951 - to "maximise the value of my profession, my career would have, on to mankind."
At a time when computers were seen as nothing more than office automation, he realised that technology was making society increasingly complex. He saw that our failure to deal with complex problems would lead to the collapse of society unless we improved our collective ability to deal with complexity. With an engineering and technical background, and after reading a book about computers, he put together a picture of connecting computers, radar and and other devices to present output on a screen instead of printed paper, and to read keyed entry from a keyboard instead of punch cards, as was done by the computers of the time.
By 1968 he and his team at the Stanford Research Institute had numerous patents, including the mouse which was later licensed to Apple for a mere $40,000. Many of these inventions were showcased in his "mother of all demos" at the Convention Center in San Fraqncisco. In one live presentation Englebart introduced "the computer mouse, video conferencing, teleconferencing, hypertext, word processing, hypermedia, object addressing and dynamic file linking, bootstrapping, and a collaborative real-time editor." (Wikipedia, The Mother of All Demos)
No one person can be said to have had more influence over modern computing than Doug Engelbart, but he feels that many of his best ideas have never been executed.
I cannot imagine how our world might have been without Engelbart, and am glad I don't have to.
Note: With the school holidays the Vintage COmputer Friday is late this week. I hope to be back on form next week!
Tandy/Radio Shack was a USA based chain of electronics stores. Tandy released their first consumer home computer, the TRS-80, in August 1977, approximately two months after Apple released the Apple II.
EACA International Limited was a Hong Kong consumer electronics manufacturer founded by Eric Chung. They began life making household electronics such as televisions, radios and by 1979 were making home games consoles which were being sold through the Australian Dick Smith Electronics chain of stores.
Dick Smith is an Australian entrepreneur who, amongst many other achievements, founded a chain of electronics stores in 1968. With the rise of the personal computer market in the late 70s Dick Smith looked to his existing supply chain to source a computer that he could sell under the Dick Smith brand.
All three of these histories came together in 1979 - Dick Smith wanted a home computer, EACA had the design and manufacturing capability and Tandy had the biggest selling personal computer in history. EACA had a home computer, the Video Genie, based on the legendary TRS-80, and agreed to sell it through Dick Smith stores in the Australian and New Zealand markets. In 1980 it hit Dick Smith shelves under the name System 80.
The machine ran Microsoft Level II BASIC, and was mainly, though not completely, compatible with TRS-80 software. While the Microsoft BASIC ROM code appeared to be licensed, doubt existed over whether there was breach of Tandy's copyright. This didn't stop it becoming a very popular and successful machine in the ANZ market.
CPU: Zilog Z80A @ 1.77 Mhz RAM: 16KB, expandable to 48KB ROM: 12KB incorporating Microsoft BASIC Level II Graphics: Up to 128 x 48 monochrome Sound: Beeper