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Unreleased Prototype Sega Dreamcast Zip Drive

Ok, so you know an unreleased zip drive for the Sega Dreamcast is on eBay, with the seller asking a whopping $10,000. I doubt anyone will pay that much, but he will definitely find some hardcore collectors who make offers to shell out the big bucks for it.

The seller offer little information:

The Zip Drive extension box was designed for the Sega Dreamcast. There is a Sega Dreamcast Zip Drive Prototype 2physical connection that joins the setup game console with the extension box. This was the only prototype in the world. It never made it to manufacturing since Sega had cancelled their hardware gaming console business plans The original purpose of the extension box was to save game scores to the Zip media and load additional players characters into the Dreamcast games. This is a rare collectible item for the serious gamer connoisseur.

In addition, they also only have six feedback. Despite this, the auction still looks very legit.

So, what’s the history of this unit? After a little bit of digging, I managed to find a significant amount of information available.

Made by Imega Corp, the makes of the Zip Disc format, this Zip drive was made to increase the Dreamcast’s storage capacity but mainly for emails, web pages and other internet based files.

The 100 Mega-Byte storage disk drive is essentially the same as the ones made for PC’s with slight modifications made to make it compatible with the DC. “We have chose a Zip drive for its durability and low cost. For gaming purposes durability is essential.” said a Sega spokesperson.

The drive was conceived after their was a strong demand for more storage space than Sega servers were offering to save email and web pages onto. The Drive could also save game-updata data so all those extra quake maps could be played at home.

The drive was made to fit under the DC and would connect to the expansion port with the modem then being plugged into the Zip drive. This was help promote the DC from a console to a home entertainment / information system with the release of other accessories (Which were also never released).

This Zip drive was not going to be combatible with the PC Zip drives but it was suggested that software for the PC would eventually be released to make it compatible with the DC Zip drive.

The Zip dive was to have a retail price of $199US and be released some time in the third quarter of 2000.

Sega announced in product in March of 1999, with Iomega announcing it in April 1999.

Iomega today, as part of its Beyond PC initiative, announced plans to introduce its Zip 100MB drive as a peripheral for the Sega Dreamcast console system currently available in Japan and launching in the US this fall. The product will attach to the Dreamcast, furnishing game storage space in memory, as well as a bevy of features that will help realize Sega’s plans for the system’s online capabilities – specifically in storing Web information and e-mail, game updates or perhaps add-ons or patches of which PC gamers are fairly accustomed.

Console gamers in the Nintendo and PlayStation arenas are currently used to standard memory cards offering about 128k flash ROM and plenty of first and third-party memory cards by Sony, Nyko, Interact, Naki, and others with a maximum capacity of about 1MB or 2MB. However, a 100 MB Zip thrown in the mix could potentially expand the boundaries of console game saves and interactivity enormously.

One of the heftiest memory options for console gamers currently is InterAct’s DexDrive for the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation – and you must own PC to make it work. The DexDrive connects to your PC, allowing you to save data from your respective memory cards onto your hard drive, to allow for more game storage than the cards alone allow. The DexDrive also offers exclusive codes and features for owners online. But the Iomega Dreamcast Zip could remove the middleman of the DexDrive in this case (and the necessity of a PC), from future console systems while taking advantage of the Dreamcast’s modem and consequently, direct link to the Internet a move console gamers will also see in the PlayStation 2 and likely Nintendo’s next, but as of yet unannounced system.

The collaboration on part of Sega and Iomega is an initial, public step in consumer terms towards what may be the first sign of the coming convergence of the PC and console so imminent with the Dreamcast and current PlayStation 2 specs. “Iomega is changing the home game system market with this new device,” said Mike Lynch, director of Beyond PC, Iomega Corporation. “The broad familiarity of Zip drives with consumers, and our large installed base make Zip drives the perfect removable solution for beyond-PC products, such as Sega’s Dreamcast game console.”

Although the Iomega Dreamcast Zip will also work without the Dreamcast, Sega has plans to offer private label Dreamcast Zip100MB disks specifically for gaming. The 100 MB Zip for the Dreamcast is expected to be available with the launch of the Dreamcast in the U.S. and Europe this fall.

Then, sometime in June of that year, a Magazine was tricked into printing fake screen shots of the device.
Sega Dreamcast Zip Drive Hoax
Recently, an industry trade publication was tricked into running a fake screenshot  of the Dreamcast zip drive, and, consequently, several web sites posted the shots as well. The screenshot, according to Iomega, is actually “a Zip 250 drive that someone modified to look like part of the Sega line.” The Iomega spokesperson went on to say that, “In actuality, the Zip drive will be built into the Dreamcast console and will not be offered externally.”

At first, this comment doesn’t seem feasible. Since we already have several Dreamcast units, we know that the Dreamcast won’t have a Zip drive inside. But when you take into account past reports, it becomes a little clearer. A few weeks ago, a Japanese newspaper claimed that the Zip drive would attach to the bottom of the Dreamcast and the two parts would lock together (like a Sega Genesis did with the Sega CD). This would explain how the drive could be considered an internal drive, rather than an external drive, as the fake screen depicted.

GameSpot News today spoke with Sega of America about the Zip drive, and while no details could be revealed, it was suggested that Iomega was perhaps speaking about one of the possible products – or configurations of products – that the two companies are working on. (Sega and Iomega are currently sharing technology for a few future Dreamcast devices). Sega held back from elaborating on details of these future devices.

So while we have yet to see a real screenshot, it is possible that the future Dreamcast Zip drive will attach underneath the Dreamcast, looking very similar to how the Nintendo 64 and its 64DD disk drive were connected in Nintendo’s past mock-up screens. There are slots on the bottom of the Dreamcast casing for such a connection. GameSpot News will bring you the latest as we hear it.

Then, in November, the product was actually shown at an event.

Sega Dreamcast Zip Drive AnouncementTonight at a special ceremony for the Okawa Foundation (a nonprofit organi zation that contributes to the growth and development of technology), CSK and Sega Enterprises chairman Isao Okawa revealed the Dreamcast’s future. A future that goes beyond just games – Sega is moving online, and in a big way.

Okawa addressed members of the Okawa Foundation and honored individuals of the foundation, Sega members, and the press with a speech about the Internet. He stressed how the 21st century will be the century of the networked society. CSK is attempting to poise itself on the cutting edge of the Internet revolution, and the Dreamcast will play a big part. With strategic alliances with Internet services and future peripherals like the Dreamcast digital camera and zip drive, he sees the console as a very powerful online component.

Sega Dreamcast Zip Drive 1 The Dreamcast zip drive was finally displayed at the Okawa Foundation event. Resting underneath the Dreamcast unit itself, the two connected hardware components gave off a great aura – they looked perfect together. The possibilities the zip drive will allow for are wonderful – new downloads for games including characters and stages, not to mention the ability to create material and store it on the drive (which Sega claims will read and write much faster than current zip drive units employed in PC configurations). Sega of America did not reveal a US release date for the device, but GameSpot News had previously learned that it will be launched in Japan in February.

Sega Zip Drive 2 Okawa also showed off an early demonstration unit of the Dreamcast Digital Camera. The device, resting atop a TV monitor, will be able to display your face on a second player’s monitor while playing a video-enabled game. A demonstration held at the event showcased two Dreamcast units networked as video was being transferred between the two. Players could also chat in real time via the Dreamcast microphone device.

The device was also apparently shown at the Tokyo game show. From there? It’s anyone’s guess. The PlayStation 2 was released in March 2000, and Sega decided to discontinue Dreamcast in March 2001.

That still could have given them enough time since the announcement a year or two earlier to actually launch the product. My guess? That the realized it wasn’t going to be a profitable item. It had a high price, and with their declining sales, wasn’t one which a lot of gamers would pick up.

Also, Sega had been greatly criticized for releasing too many add-ons with the Sega 32X and the Sega CD, and possibly decided that they were about to make the same mistake again.

So, that’s about it. I really wish the seller would have given some more information, but we may see some arise as he answers questions, or as potential buyers and DC fanatics discuss it on forums. If you know anything more, or I’ve got anything wrong, please comment.

Auction pictures preserved for prosperity:

Sega Dreamcast Zip Drive Prototype 1 Sega Dreamcast Zip Drive Prototype 2_thumb[1] Sega Dreamcast Zip Drive Prototype 3 Sega Dreamcast Zip Drive Prototype 4 Sega Dreamcast Zip Drive Prototype 5 

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