Sega entered the electronic games market producing only software. In 1986, they produced the Master System, an 8-bit console to compete with the Nintendo Entertainment System. Sega's next system, the 16-bit Genesis, inaugurated the Console Wars between Sega and Nintendo. Other companies tried to compete, but none established themselves as a strong competitor. With the coming of the 32-bit era, however, upstart Sony positioned itself to enter the Console Wars as competition for Nintendo and Sega. Barely six years later, Sega withdrew from the console market entirely, returning to their position as a software-only production company.
The Saturn, released in May 1995, was Sega's third console system. It was the first 32-bit system released by a major player, and not a long-term success. Its physical reliability and sophisticated graphics did not make up for its expensive architecture and complicated programming language. Most game producers preferred to make games for the Saturn's less powerful, but simpler, rival, the Sony Playstation. Sega ceased production of the Saturn after only 3 ?? years, moving on to the little more successful Dreamcast. The Saturn demonstrates that reliability and computing horsepower do not necessarily assure financial or popular success in the video game console market. [DL]