Today I learned about Sega AI: not the famed game company’s latest thing, but a rare computer produced in 1986. It doesn’t turn up in the company’s Wikipedia article (though there is a photo of one in a museum) and it appears to be the company’s first 16-bit home effort.
Documents describe it as a full-featured computer with an educational twist. The system itself sports markings with a promising “SEGA PROLOG…. Bringing you into the world of artificial intelligence”.
Effectively all the software we found so far is educational and mostly aimed at kids. The system hardware was definitely not used to its maximum potential, although later 1988-1989 software titles are of higher quality than earlier ones. A US prototype suggests that some form of LISP exists, but we weren’t able to get access to it yet.
The thing is obviously strange—and rather high-end for something aimed at children—and you wonder what might have been. The specs are solid—16-bit 8088 clone CPU, 128kb of RAM, speech synthesizer, proper keyboard—though the aesthetic of the titles suggests “Sega Master System with benefits” more than “Genesis PC”. Be sure to read SMS Power’s restrospective (via Hacker News) on one of the most mysterious machines of the 80s.