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The Story Behind the Atari Genesis/Mega Drive

Kieren Hawken writes, "One of the great “what ifs” involving Atari, and specifically the Tramiel era, revolves around the best selling Sega Megadrive. Back in 1988 Sega approached Atari about releasing their new Mega Drive console in the US. The Master System had bombed there selling less than 2 million units, it was destroyed by the NES and outsold 2:1 by the Atari 7800 ProSystem too. Atari were the no. 2 player in the market at that time and Sega wanted to use their name, reputation, history and market presence to launch their new machine. Negotiations eventually fell through because Atari CEO Jack Tramiel wanted worldwide rights for the machine while Sega were keen to hang on to Europe having been very successful there. Greatly helped by the close relationship they had formed with Virgin Mastertronic. Michael Katz, who at that time was heading up the entertainment division at Atari, actually ended up leaving Atari to join Sega as the president of their US operation in the wake of this deal. He then went on to be the brains behind the brilliant “Sega does what Nintendon’t” ad campaign that launched the machine into the spotlight and ultimately allowed Sega to steal the number one spot in the US market from Nintendo."

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