Go Backhardware index
click on home button to open mainpage


Sega Dreamcast

Japan 1998

USA & Europe 1999


papers & manuals

software library




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.


Papers & Manuals

Dreamcast Owners Manual
Dreamcast VMU Manual



Dreamcast & Controller
Open Dreamcast
Controller with VMU

Back of the Dreamcast
(Modem port on left)
Dreamcast with modem being removed
Dreamcast Console

Top of Controller showing VMU and Rumblepack slots
Controller view showing face and slots
VMU and Rumblepack
Dreamcast titles in cases
Open Dreamcast game showing GDROM discs
Detail of Dreamcast GDROM disc showing Sega Etching







Soul Calibur

Soul Calibur

Samba de Amigo

Samba de Amigo

Samba de Amigo

Sonic Adventure 2

Sonic Adventure 2

Sonic Adventure 2


Sold: 1998-2001
Price: 260 USD (1998)
Dimensions: 18.5cm (w) x 19cm (l) x 7cm (h)
CPU: 64-bit Hitachi SH-4
CPU speed: 200 Mhz
Clearing Capacity: 360 MIPS
Bus Bandwidth: 800 Mb/sec
Processor: 128-bit NEC PowerVR 2DC
Speed: 100 Mhz
Max Resolution: 640 x 480
Max Bit Depth: 24bit (16.7 million colors)
Polygon Rendering: 3,000,000 polygons per second
System RAM: 16 Mb
Video RAM: 8 Mb


Release history

1998 November - Japanese Launch

1999 September - North American and European Launch

2001 March - Discontinuation


Go Backhardware index Last Updated on 4 February, 2005 For suggestions please mail the editors 


Footnotes & References