"The Sega Mega Drive (メガドライブ, Mega Doraibu) is a fourth-generation video game console released by Sega in Japan in 1988 and Europe, Australia and other PAL regions in 1990. The console was released in North America in 1989 under the name Sega Genesis, as Sega was unable to secure legal rights to the Mega Drive name in that region. The Mega Drive, heavily marketed as "16-bit" due to its hardware, was Sega's fifth home console and the successor to the Sega Master System, with which it is electronically compatible.
The Mega Drive was the first of its generation to achieve notable market share in Europe and North America. It was a direct competitor of the TurboGrafx-16 (which was released one year earlier in Japan under the name PC Engine, but at about the same time as the Genesis in North America) and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (which was released two years later). The Mega Drive began production in Japan in 1988 and ended with the last new licensed game being released in 2002 in Brazil, where it is still being sold by Sega's partner TecToy, although ROMs are no longer available and the games are built in.
The Mega Drive is Sega's most successful console, though there is disparity in the number of units sold worldwide. The console and its games continue to be popular among fans, collectors, retro gamers, emulation enthusiasts, fan translations and there are even several indie game developers continuing to produce games for the console. Many games have been re-released in compilations for newer consoles and/or offered for download on various online services, such as Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network and Virtual Console"
Source: Wikipedia, "Mega_Drive", available under the CC-BY-SA License.