My first computer was a SEGA SC-3000
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.
What was your first computer?
SEGA SC-3000 Specifications
CPU: Z80 maximum address range of 65535 bytes
CPU Speed:3.58 MHz
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.
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:
- SC-3000 Survivors
SC-3000 Survivors is aimed at all those who have a passion for and preserve the memory of this 8-Bit Home Computer.
- Sega SC-3000 Computer Information - Console Database
Computer Information for the Sega SC-3000