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My first computer was a SEGA SC-3000

Updated on July 28, 2014

Easter weekend 1984

I bought my first computer on the Thursday before Easter (19 April) in 1984. I was 14 years old at the time and I had saved up $NZ 300. I spent it on a SEGA SC-3000 computer.

The SEGA SC-3000 was an 8-bit computer based on the Z80 chip. Physically it consisted of a qwerty rubber button keyboard with ports for various peripherals, a wall wart AC/DC adapter and RF modulator to plug it into a TV screen for output.

My computer came with a limited (2K) BASIC cartridge and with it I could write very simple programs. I upgraded to a 32K BASIC cartridge after the long weekend and connected the computer to a tape cassette player so I could save and load programs.

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SEGA SC-3000 Specifications

CPU: Z80 maximum address range of 65535 bytes

CPU Speed:3.58 MHz

RAM:32K

ROM: 32 kb

Sound Chip: SN76487AN (3 sound channels & a noise generator)

Video Chip: Texas Instruments TMM9929A (4 Color Modes, 32 Sprites)

VRAM: 16 kb

Text screen: 40 x 25

Graphics screen: 256 x 192 pixel

Colors: Palette of 16-colors with 16 shades each.

I/O Ports: TV RF out, Video Composite out, Cartridge/Expansion slot, Tape cassette interface IN/OUT, 2 Joysticks, Audio out, serial printer plotter.

Learning BASIC programming

Many game ROM cartridges were available for the SEGA SC-3000, but I was more interested in learning how to program the computer than in playing a pre-programmed game.

The SEGA SC-3000 (and later SC-3000H) computer models were well supported in New Zealand with the SEGA Magazine. Each month, I bought the magazine and faithfully typed in all of the programs. Many were games, but by studying the program listings and modifying them I learnt how to program in BASIC.

I attempted to write my own version of the Monopoly game for the SEGA SC-3000 computer, but I was limited by the screen resolution - only 256 x 192 pixels and so it was never finished.

Learning soldering

Making my own peripheral

With a piece of veroboard, some push button switches, some wire and a nine pin plug, I constructed a very simple 6-button joypad for the SEGA SC-3000. I think this was my first soldering project.

More SEGA SC-3000

25 years on, the SEGA SC-3000 is now a collector's item and enthusiasts have published information on the following sites:

What was your first computer?

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