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Sega Master System - 09/12/2007
The Sega Master System (SMS) was released in 1986 to compete with the explosively successful Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It had been known as the Mark III in Japan where it had been introduced a year and a half earlier. The SMS initially retailed for $200 and like the NES, featured a pack-in game cartridge (Hang On/Safari Hunt) and a light gun. In its first four months of release, Sega sold 125,000 units in North America.

The SMS is unique to other systems in that it featured ports for two different types of media. It is capable of reading programming from both a game cartridge and a card about the size of a driver’s license. A cartridge is able to hold 1048K bits of game code, the card 256K. The card was cheaper to manufacture and retailed for about $5 less than the cartridge. Seven SMS games were released on the card, the best include: Spy vs. Spy and Trans-Bot

Another feature that was unique to the SMS at the time was upon the activation of the power switch, the word "Sega" slid across the screen with its own theme song. If no software is inserted after the music ends a screen with operating instructions appears.

In 1990, one year after they had released the 16-bit Genesis system, Sega introduced the Sega Master System II -- a smaller, sleeker version of the original. The premise behind its release was to downscale several features on the SMS to make the console affordable to more consumers. Features not included on the Master System II were: a card port, power light, reset button, expansion port and logo or music upon activation of the system. Though the Master System II was more affordable, it was doomed by the lack of third party software support and all but disappeared from the American market by 1992.

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