Sega was the first manufacturer to release a new generation system following the 32/64-bit systems (PlayStation, Saturn, and N64). The Dreamcast launched in Japan in the fourth quarter of 1998 and hit Western Europe and the United States toward the end of 1999.
It was one of the few consoles to have 4 controller ports built into the unit and it is the first console to have shipped with hardware that would allow it to play online games. The Dreamcast had a built-in 56Kb modem installed. In fact, Sega later released a broadband adapter (in very limited numbers) as a replacement component for the modem.
The system utilized a disc format entitled GDRom, which was touted to hold up to a gigabyte of information on a single disc. The operating system for the Dreamcast was actually a ported version of Microsoft’s Windows CE.
The Dreamcast’s controller was very similar to the 3D controller realeased later in the Saturn’s production life. Though rather large, it is a well-balanced device and is fairly comfortable. Much like the Nintendo 64, Sega housed the memory card in the controller, rather than directly in the console itself. The rumble component (also like a N64) was added to the controller at the user’s discretion. However, unlike the Nintendo 64, the Dreamcast could hold both devices simultaneously. In addition to preserving game save data, the Dreamcast’s memory device had an LCD screen that could provide information to the player during play and that enabled the player to play mini games offline from the system itself. This device is known as a VMU (Visual Memory Unit). In some ways it is very similar to Sony’s PocketStation that was only released in Japan.
In spite of some very impressive hardware and some excellent titles, Sega was finding it more and more difficult to compete with Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft for a stake in the hardware market. So in order to cut their losses, Sega announced that they would cease production of the Dreamcast at the end of March 2001. They continued to develop and release software for the system for another year before abandoning it altogether. Sega’s strongest suit had always been their software, so they reinvested their hardware dollars into development for titles for the three remaining consoles.
1998 November - Japanese Launch
1999 September - North American and European Launch
2001 March - Discontinuation
|Last Updated on 4 February, 2005||For suggestions please mail the editors|
Footnotes & References
|1||All photographs taken by Ted Stahl and are copyrighted Ted Stahl and The History of Computing Project, 2005.|