Classic SEGA Magazine Corner: Playboy showcases SEGA’s big screen television (safe for work)

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The death of Hugh Hefner reminded me of all the times Playboy crossed paths with my favorite pieces of pop culture entertainment, and while franchises like The Simpsons (Marge Simpson’s “photoshoot”) and Star Wars (Episode III’s Bai Ling) have had their day on the Playboy cover, SEGA fans have to dig a bit deeper. Back in the 70’s, SEGA had not yet entered the home console market as they were largely an amusement machine company. However, in the spring of 1977 (just prior to the Atari 2600 and around the time Star Wars hit theaters) SEGA debuted their big screen television Sega-Vision.

Longtime SEGAbits readers might remember my previous articles on SEGA’s television, as I covered the TV commercial (seen above) in a 2011 article and shared the patent drawings and strange story of the Sega-Vision’s inventor Madman Muntz (who also coined the phrase “TV”) in a 2009 SEGA Memories article. My Sega-Vision discoveries continued in 2014 with a SEGA in the Media article sharing Sega-Vision’s appearance on The Price is Right (seen below). Give these articles a read and the videos a watch if you want to get up to speed on the Sega-Vision.

SEGA’s Sega-Vision not only appeared on TV, but also in print. The SEGA Retro wiki has long had a scan from an unknown issue of Playboy magazine featuring the big screen TV, but it was unknown which issue fans could find the article in. This past summer, I was at a local nostalgia shop during a big warehouse sale and came upon (okay, bad choice of words…) found a big box of 1970’s Playboy magazines. I knew the Sega-Vision hit in the spring of ’77, so I worked fast so as not to look like a pervert and grabbed the April 1977 issue. I paged through it and, amazingly, found the issue containing the Sega-Vision article!

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Reading-Over-Your-Shoulder Observations and Interesting Factoids:

  • The Ed Sullivan Show was an American variety show that ran from 1948 to 1971. The program is best known for performances from The Beatles, Elvis, The Supremes and Jim Henson.
  • Standing at 5 to 6 feet high, the Sega-Vision was truly a BIG investment!
  • Sega teaming with Toshiba is interesting, as in 2013 it was rumored that Toshiba was going to buy, merge or form an alliance with SEGA. I’d argue they had already formed an alliance decades earlier with the Sega-Vision.
  • The most expensive Sega-Vision cost $1,895. By comparison, in 1977 the average income was $15,000, the average rent was $240 and a gallon of gas was 65 cents. A Sega-Vision account for 13% of the average yearly income. The 2017 average household income is $73,298. So imagine buying a $9,500 television! Oh wait, people spend nearly $20,000 on televisions…

As a bonus, here are more ads from the magazine as well as the unobscured cover. It really isn’t lewd, but I didn’t want to use it as the featured image.

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2 responses to “Classic SEGA Magazine Corner: Playboy showcases SEGA’s big screen television (safe for work)

  1. Pirovash88 says:

    Thanks for posting this Barry, it’s a really cool read. I actually didn’t know anything about the Sega-Vision so thanks for that!

  2. Wild. And now I know where the name for the magazine probably came from.

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