EA reverse engineered its own Genesis devkit

The sticker on top reads: “Sega Genesis Probe. 1990. Internal EA Project to reverse engineer the Genesis”

You see, when the Genesis was a baby, Sega couldn’t pump out enough dev kits to meet demand. This says something about the difference in power that EA had then versus the juggernaut it has become now; can you imagine a console manufacturer stiffing EA on dev kits today? At any rate, EA wanted very much to be in the Genesis business, so someone “acquired” a dev kit from someone else. Where that dev kit came from, or how EA was able to borrow it for an extended amount of time… these details were left a little hazy in the telling of the story.

The engineers at EA then went to work, tearing the dev kit down, taking notes, and then they turned around and backwards-engineered their own version of the hardware before returning it from whence it came. This is a pretty impressive technical feat, and luckily for the historians out there, EA kept this pirate dev kit, which is now on display in one of EA’s collection of gaming hardware. It just shows that all is fair in love and gaming: if they won’t give you the hardware you need, you need only grab someone’s else’s kit and make a copy.

This was a neat look at a bit of gaming history that most people don’t know exists. Sometimes, to get ahead, you need a little underhandedness.

So, the next time you pirate an EA game, just tell the cops you’re reverse engineering it. John Riccitello will understand.


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