From Sega Retro
The SC-3000 (Sega Computer 3000) is the first and only computer to be designed and manufactured by Sega. It was first released in July of 1983 in Japan, and serves as the home computer equivalent of the SG-1000 cartridge-based video game console. The SC-3000, often known simply as the "Sega Computer" or even just the "Sega", is an 8-bit home computer almost identical in nature to the SG-1000, but with a built-in keyboard and support for more hardware expansions.
Unlike later Sega systems, the SC-3000 did not receive a worldwide release, but in markets were it did compete, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy and Finland, the computer fared well as a low price, entry-level machine for the home. By 1985 the SC-3000 had been displaced by more popular computer standards, but is nevertheless said to have fared better than the SG-1000 console on the global stage, and has a strong group of followers to this day.
The SC-3000 was also Sega's last home computer to be released to the general public. The company would partner with Amstrad and IBM for the Amstrad Mega PC and TeraDrive respectively in later years, but other endeavours such as the extremely rare Sega AI Computer saw only a small fraction of the success the SC-3000 received, and were built with very different aims.
As a home computer, the SC-3000 was designed to be an affordable machine for use in a home environment, primarily for business and educational use. However, as with most home computers of the era, the device became a method of playing video games.
The SC-3000 comes with a 64-key keyboard mounted on the top of the unit, a cartridge port on the right hand side and two DE-9 joystick ports on the left. On the back, the system has a power switch and power supply, cassette, printer, monitor and television ports typical of the era. It is a relatively light and compact machine which is most commonly found in black, though white and red variants were also available in Japan.
The SC-3000 is fully compatible with all almost software and accessories designed for the SG-1000 or SG-1000 II, save for some BASIC cartridge variants and peripherals such as the SK-1100. In many situations the reverse is also true - the SK-1100 allowing the SG-1000 to interface with some SC-3000 software and accessories.
There are two major models of the SC-3000 - the standard SC-3000 model with rubberised keys, and an upgraded SC-3000H variant from later in the year, with a full-travel mechanical keyboard. Contrary to popular belief, both systems are otherwise identical aside from keyboard technologies, although the improved keyboard led to the SC-3000H being more expensive at launch. A third model, known as the SC-5000 is also known to exist, but very little is known about this unit.
By default, the SC-3000 has 2kB of work RAM, 16kB of VRAM and 32kB of ROM. The system's main RAM is dictated by the cartridge inserted into the machine, and the system will not function if the cartridge port is empty. RAM only becomes an issue when dealing with software not distributed on cartridge, and so, even though the systems are extremely similar, differing RAM requirements from software is not an issue that can affect the SG-1000.
For the most part, the SC-3000 was designed to be used in conjunction with a BASIC cartridge. BASIC Level II A offers no extra RAM, meaning only the standard 2kB is available, BASIC Level III A offers 16kB and BASIC Level III B offers 32kB. The values were often combined with the VRAM figure to create confusingly titled "16K", "32K" and "48K" varieties of the SC-3000 (neither of which are strictly accurate descriptions). Software indended for the "32K" SC-3000 will be incompatible with the "16K" variant, though those with 48K SC-3000s could run just about anything. The BASIC cartridges also double up as a programming language, allowing users to create their own software.
The SC-3000 hardware is comparable to the original MSX computer standard or the ColecoVision games console. Though in most regions the SC-3000 retailed at a cheaper price than many of its competitors, it was outclassed from a technical perspective at launch by more powerful (albeit more expensive) home computers from the likes of Commodore.
On its own, the SC-3000 offers very few features over the SG-1000, but with the addition of a Data Recorder SR-1000, it is possible to load and save software to compact cassette. Perhaps more notably, 3-inch floppy disk support could be given to the computer via the Super Control Station SF-7000 add-on (which ups the RAM even further by adding 64kB, among other features). Documents can also be printed through the SP-400 printer.
The SC-3000 was launched in Japan in July 1983 for the asking price of ¥29,800, being marketed as an entry-level computer. It was released at the same time as the SG-1000, as it not entirely certain which sort of system would remain dominant - the cheaper, dedicated video game console, or the more expensive home computer. Possibily due to fears that one type of system would displace the other, Sega went with both.
Over time it was proved that Japanese consumers preferred the SC-3000 over the SG-1000 for its extra features, but neither device could compete with rival products. The more powerful Nintendo Famicom, released very close to the SG-1000/SC-3000 would go on to dominate the Japanese video game market for the best part of a decade, while the rise of the MSX standard would crush the SC-3000, along with a plethora of other systems. From day one Sega also found themselves under pressure from more established computers by NEC, Fujitsu and Sharp, and the SC-3000 failed to take off.
The SC-3000H, which originally sold for ¥33,800, does not appear to have fared much better.
Unlike Sega's later endeavours, the SC-3000 was only distributed in select European countries, and again struggled due to the oversaturated market. It was distributed in France by ITMC (under the Yeno brand) and in Italy, where it was distributed by Melchioni. It was also seen in Finland, where it was distributed by Digital Systems.
The full extent of European distribution is not currently known. In all cases, the SC-3000 is thought to have out-performed the SG-1000 by leaps and bounds.
Australia and New Zealand
The SC-3000 was a big success for the Sega in Oceania. It was distributed in Australia by John Sands and in New Zealand by Grandstand. Both regions had comparitively less competition than in Japan, and so the SC-3000 (and SC-3000H) performed reasonably well as low-entry computers during the mid-1980s.
The SC-3000 once again decimated the SG-1000, and managed to make an impact on the educational and advertising markets too. Both John Sands and Grandstand strongly supported the system, releasing cassette-based software and building up third-party relations with local developers.
A Speech Synthesis unit and a light pen were supposedly manufactured by third party companies in New Zealand. New Zealand also had its own Sega Computer magazine.
Distribution in both countries stopped in 1986 for different reasons. It is said that Grandstand wanted to focus efforts on distributing Amstrad products instead (namely the Amstrad CPC).
Also rumoured is a South African release of the console.
Initial models of the SC-3000 were released in Japan in July 1983, shipping with a BASIC Level III A cartridge. All original versions of the SC-3000 are black.
SC-3000 (Black) (Later)
After a while, Japan decided to produce different coloured versions of the SC-3000, and the packaging was changed to accommodate this move. All SC-3000s from this era share the same packaging, which can cause some confusion as the front of the box shows a red model, the back shows a black one and the side shows a white one. The actual colour of the unit is identified on the top of the box via a sticker.
This box design was recycled for European and New Zealand markets, again with stickers on the top to identify region and colour.
White models were released exclusively in Japan, and match the later SG-1000 II and Sega Mark III consoles. Like many products from the era, the white plastic degrades over time, turning yellow and then brown as time goes on.
Red models are perhaps the most rare of the three.
With the SC-3000H's release in 1984, the original rubber keys were replaced with full-travel plastic keys.
The SC-3000H also came in white, suffering similar yellowing issues to the standard SC-3000.
SC-3000 (Model 1)
John Sands distributed the SC-3000 in Australia, with the first model also going on sale in 1983. There is little difference between the two aside from the removal of Japanese characters and slight tweaks to the hardware for PAL television sets. Also unlike Japan, there was only one color - black.
Two "models" of SC-3000 were released in Australia. It is unknown exactly how they differ.
SC-3000 (Model 1)
SC-3000 (Model 2)
The SC-3000H was released in Australia as well. Again, black was the only color available.
During the 1980s, Compulink Corporation distributed their own brand of SC-3000Hs for use as an advertising system. It is identical to a regular SC-3000H bar a sticker, and would come equipped with specalist software which could be configured by the user.
The New Zealand SC-3000 was distributed by Grandstand. It uses packaging similar to the Japanese model.
A mysterious "G-PAL" (PAL-G?) SC-3000 model is known to exist.
The French SC-3000 was distributed by ITMC, who put their name on the system in the place of Sega's.
SC-3000 (Yeno) (Newer)
At some point, the packaging was changed.