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The Sega Master System (know as Mark III in Japan) was Sega's step into the gaming world, in 1986. Sega also released the 'Sega Master System II' in 1991, to serve as a 'budget console' to those who could not afford a Mega Drive/Sega Genesis, which was initially released 2 years before, in 1989.


Before the Master System, there was Sega SG-1000, SC-3000, and Sega Mark III.

Unfortunately none of them are a commercial success, so then Sega decided to develop a successor of all the preceding system with better, newer, and faster hardware than the Famicom.

Engineered by the same internal Sega team that had created the SG-1000, the Mark III was a redesigned iteration of the previous console. The CPUs in the SG-1000 and SG-1000 II were Zilog Z80As running at 3.58 MHz, while the Mark III, SC-3000—a computer version of the SG-1000—and Master System feature a Z80A running at 4 MHz. The Mark III and Master System also carried over the Sega Card slot used in the SG-1000.

For the console's North America release, Sega restyled and rebranded the Mark III under the name "Master System", similar to Nintendo's own reworking of the Famicom into the Nintendo Entertainment System. The "Master System" name was one of several proposals Sega's American employees considered, and was ultimately chosen by throwing darts against a whiteboard, although plans to release a cheaper console similarly referred to as the "Base System" also influenced the decision.

Sega Enterprises Chairman Isao Okawa endorsed the name after being told it was a reference to the competitive nature of both the video game industry and martial arts, in which only one competitor can be the "Master".[1] The futuristic final design for the Master System was intended to appeal to Western tastes.[2]


  1. "Bruce Lowry: The Man that sold the NES". Game Informer. Gamestop. 12(110): 102-103. June 2002.
  2. Parkin, Simon (June 2, 2014). "A history of video game hardware: Sega Master System". Edge. Archived from the original on June 5, 2014. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
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