SEGA is a video game software and hardware developer and a former console manufacturer. It is one of the best known and loved video game brands in the world. The company has had success in both arcades and the home console market, but as of late 2001, they are out of the consumer console business.
SEGA's main offices, as well as the main offices of its domestic division, Sega of Japan, are located in Ota, Tokyo, Japan. SEGA's North American division, Sega of America, is headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States. It had moved from Redwood City, California in 1999. SEGA's European division, Sega of Europe, is headquartered in the Chiswick area of London, England, United Kingdom.
Sega was originally founded in 1940 as Standard Games in Honolulu, Hawaii, by Martin Bromely, Irving Bromberg, and James Humpert to provide coin-operated amusements for American servicemen on military bases. Bromely suggested that the company move to Tokyo in 1951, and "Service Games of Japan" (SeGa) became registered in Japan in May of 1952.
In 1954, another American businessman David Rosen fell in love with Tokyo and established his own company, Rosen Enterprises, Inc., in Japan to export art. When the company imported coin-operated instant photo booths, it stumbled on a surprise hit: The booths were very popular in Japan. Business was booming, and Rosen Enterprises expanded by importing coin-operated electro-mechanical games.
Rosen Enterprises and Service Games merged in 1965 to become Sega Enterprises. Within a year, the new company released a submarine-simulator game called "Periscope" that became a smash worldwide.
In 1969, Gulf & Western Industries purchased Sega, and Rosen was allowed to remain CEO of the Sega division. Sega continued to grow and prosper. In the videogame arcades, Sega was known for creating Frogger and Zaxxon, and soon Sega split into two divisions, Sega of Japan and a North American division called Sega Enterprises Ltd., to handle the workload. In 1982, the two Sega divisions reaped a combined total of $214 million in revenue.
Then came the video game crash of 1983. Hemorrhaging money, Gulf & Western sold the assets of the North American Sega division to Bally Manufacturing Corporation. Sega of Japan was purchased for $38 million by a group of investors led by Rosen and Hayao Nakayama, a Japanese businesman who owned a distribution company that had been acquired by Rosen in 1979. Nakayama became the new CEO of Sega, and Rosen became head of its subsidiary in the United States. In 1984, the multi-billion dollar Japanese conglomerate CSK bought Sega, and renamed it to Sega Enterprises Ltd., based in Japan, and two years later, shares of its stock were being traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. In 1986, Sega released the first Alex Kidd game. He would be their mascot until 1991, when they would replace him with Sonic the Hedgehog.
In 2000, Sega renamed Sega Enterprises Ltd. to Sega Corporation.
During the middle of 2004, Sammy bought a controlling share in Sega Corporation at a cost of $1.1 billion creating the new company entitled "Sega Sammy Holdings", creating one of the biggest games companies in the world.
Sega would become famous for manufacturing a number of consoles over the years:
- Sega SG-1000 Sega's first game console, which was adadpted from the Sega SC-3000, a computer similar to the MSX
- Sega Master System aka Sega Mark III
- Sega Master System II and Master System III - less-expensive and less popular retooled successors to the Master System. The Master System III was only available in Brazil.
- Sega Megadrive - Sega's most successful console worldwide. It did not do that well in Japan, but it did great in Brazil, Europe, Australasia. A Megadrive 2 also came out.
- Sega Genesis - The North American version of the Megadrive. It was very successful in the United States and Canada. (note that the genesis and the Mega Drive were the same)
- Game Gear - a portable Master System, it could play Master System games with an adapter
- Sega Meganet - a modem for the Sega Megadrive that was only released in Japan
- Sega Mega-CD - a CD-ROM peripheral for the Megadrive. The high cost prevented some units from being sold in Japan, and the cost prevented very many at all from being sold in Europe.
- Sega CD - a CD-ROM peripheral for the Genesis. It was the North American equivalent of the Sega Mega-CD. Was known to have a lot of FMV games.
- Sega Genesis 32X - hardware upgrade peripheral for the Genesis, extremely disappointing console
- Sega Super 32X - Japanese Megadrive version of Genesis 32X
- Sega Mega 32X - European and Australian version of Genesis 32X
- Sega Neptune - A Sega Megadrive/32X hybrid. It never passed the prototype stage.
- Sega Mega Jet - A portable Megadrive released for use on Japan Airlines aircraft. Only released in Japan
- Sega Pico - an educational computer.
- Sega Nomad - a portable Genesis that played the same cartridges. Only released in North America.
- Sega Saturn - a CD-based console that was largely unsuccessful outside Japan. In Japan, this console was more popular than the Megadrive.
- Dreamcast - the last Sega console.
Sega after 2001
Sega has fallen on hard times since the failure of the Sega Saturn in the late 1990s and with their unsuccessful attempt to stay in the market with the Dreamcast, which caused them to move out of hardware manufacturing, at least in the home console market; the arcade SEGA Naomi units are still being produced. The company has evolved primarily into a platform-agnostic software company that creates games that will work on a variety of game consoles produced by other companies, including the Nintendo GameCube, the Sony PlayStation 2, and the Microsoft Xbox.
In 2003, Sega fell on extremely hard times, and after the death of CSK founder Isao Okawa in 2001, who spent over US$40 billion to help Sega, CSK put Sega on the auction block. The first suitor was Japan's Sammy who discussed a merger, but plans fell through. Discussions also took place with Namco, Electronic Arts and Microsoft. But in August 2003, Sammy bought the outstanding 22% of shares that CSK had, and Sammy chairman Hajime Satomi became CEO of Sega. With the Sammy chairman at the helm of Sega, it has been stated that Sega's activity will focus on its profit-making arcade business rather than its loss-making home software development.
Internally, the company is actually made up of various research and development teams, originally named AM1, AM2, AM3, etc. They now have more memorable monikers:
- AM1 became Wow Entertainment -
- AM2 kept its name, so well known amongst gamers for the Virtua Fighter series of arcade games
- AM3 became Hitmaker -
- AM4 became Amusement Vision - known for Super Monkey Ball
- AM5 became Sega Rosso
- AM6 became Smilebit -
- AM7 became OverWorks -
- Sonic Team - renamed themselves from AM8 many years ago, funnily enough, soon after they completed Sonic the Hedgehog
- AM9 became United Game Artists -
- Digital Media became Wave Master -
There is a healthy sense of competition between the various teams which has resulted in some of the most remarkable and innovative gaming events. Later, following a reshuffle Sega merged some of these teams together. Sammy has expressed an interest in merging the above teams back into Sega, and did so on July 1st, 2004.
Historical legal case
Sega lost the Sega v. Accolade case, which involved independently produced software for the Sega Genesis console that copied a small amount of Sega's code. The verdict set a precedent that copyrights do not extend to non-expressive content in software that is required by another system to be present in order for that system to run the software. The case in question stems from the nature of the console video game market. Hardware companies often sell their systems at or below cost, and rely on other revenue streams such as in this case, game licensing. Sega was attempting to "lock out" game companies from making Genesis games unless they paid Sega a fee (ostensibly to maintain a consistent level of quality of games for their system.) Their strategy was to make the hardware reject any catridge that did not include a Sega trademark. If an unlicensed company included this trademark in their game (which they had to, if they wanted the game to work) Sega could sue the company for trademark infringment. Though Sega lost this lawsuit, the Sega Dreamcast seemed to incorporate a similar hardware requirement.
Several webcomics have been produced starring the Sega characters, one of the more popular ones being That's My Sonic!
- Official website (gateway): http://www.sega.com
- Info on Sega consoles and Sega in general - Console Database
- Unofficial history of SEGA - 
- Retrospective of Sega Consoles -Part 1Part 2