Amstrad Mega PC: The First and Last IBM-PC / SEGA Hybrid
By James Grahame
Manufacturers are always searching for a way to differentiate their product from dozens of others. It's often extremely hard, because electronic gear tends to share the same underlying technology. One approach is to meld several devices together in a single unit, which is the approach Amstrad took with the Mega PC.
The 1993 Mega PC was a boring beige IBM-PC clone that included a SEGA Mega Drive (AKA Genesis) on a board The console hardware was packaged on a standard ISA card that doubled as an AdLib compatible sound card. It connected to the main PC using a ribbon cable that passed graphics and sound and was the only version of the Mega Drive to include a VGA output. The package came with a custom beige control pad and 2 button analog joystick.
The computer itself was a respectable 25 MHz 386 with 1MB of memory and a 40 MB hard drive. It included AdLib sound and SVGA graphics, along with a state-of-the-art copy of Windows 3.11.
The system sold at a premium and savvy parents quickly realized it made much better sense to purchase a lower cost computer and standalone Genesis console, thus preventing a traffic jam in the basement when junior wanted to play Sonic at the same time dad wanted to surf the local BBS for ASCII
porn art. The machine also suffered from a non-standard game cartridge slot on the front panel that did not accept all game carts. Amstrad eventually produced a 486 version of the same machine before abandoning the concept in the mid 1990s.