B5009716 - WTF? That's a weird number, assume VA0 1995, must be quite early!
As for the skeleton question, the 1 or 2 digit code at the front is the manufacturing plant. The Derby Saturns may or may not all have been made in one plant. Ultimately, it's not the most interesting or helpful piece of information you'll get on the console! And I would say that the numbering system starts nowhere near 000001, so you can't really judge how many were made by serial numbers.
As for those who go as far as an in-depth conversation about whether the top plastics and bottom plastics were made on the same day (not on this board), that's pretty anal. Plastics manufacturing is not usually done at the same time, or even in the same place, as assembly. The plastics are by and large identical, so it wouldn't matter when it was made. Sega had different codes for parts (e.g. a revision A laser mech, then a revision B) - I don't recall there being many differences in plastics - only to accomodate the buttons, from memory. And maybe colour differences.
The 0.8 I would assume is a minor revision - perhaps a BIOS patch or something along those lines?
I would be able to tell you more about what hardware models have what version board, but my paperwork is not where it should be... and a lot of my research was lost in a major computer failure years ago!
At least people will (hopefully!) learn that the REAL differences in Saturns are in the VA model numbers, and there's no such thing as "model 1" and "model 2" Saturns!
Yup, what you posted there is stuff I had to work out on my own in the past months. I'd be REALLY interested in seeing those service manuals you keep mentioning, they could clear up some questions I have (like the *exact* list of differences going from VA6 to VA13 - I know that they moved some ICs, switched the audio/video encoders and condensed the CD and Sound block, but at what exact point exactly? I've seen VA7, 10 and 13 with single ic cd block, but VA8 and 9 with separate ones.).
The only research I saw before was the aformentioned japanese PDF, and a nigh-retarded thread at Segaxtreme that boiled down to the mold numbers in the plastic.
HST-0021 Skeletons are B8F*, HST-0022 Derby Stallions are P8F* (starting somewhere between 46000 and 63000), HST-0020 normal Skeletons are B7D* (starting at way high, like 210000). Asahi Electron also made VA15 1998 models (A8F*), but none of those were skeletons.
VA2/4 were VA SG, VA3/5 was VA SD both. The later numbers had a few minor things removed - some resistors leading to the access light and memory reset button, as well as the access light and the memory reset themselves being removed. However, I've seen VA2/3 boards in model 2 machines, based on the serials.
There are also weird serials like: AC7Z511561 (Z revision? Maybe standing for "final", so VA15?) S59011004 S691000849 S694001383 S695000535 S69501629 (ignore the 9 and the serial number may be 5 numbers only instead of 6? Also, why do they start with S, instead of B like all other Seiyo Denshi made models?)
Many 670-x labels were skipped too - why?
Were there ever VA12 or 14 models?
What system do V-Saturn serials use? Or Navi Hi-Saturns?
How to distinguish Sanyo CD Drives, or those strange short boards in some VA0 models?
Were the serial numbers split for different region models - do we have a japanese and a PAL model with AD65043955, or does only a single saturn exists with that serial?
A lot of questions are still unanswered. If your own research is incomplete, maybe you can give me corrections once I finish my own.
My research went up in smoke years ago when I had a major computer failure. There may be traces floating around where I discussed it with others, but I'm doubtful.
The service manuals are part of my missing paperwork. Mine were primarily for the UK market, so I doubt I have anything as late as a VA15 manual. I think there were one or two Japanese ones amongst them, though.
You're missing the point with the prefixes. Those are the manufacturing PLANTS, not the manufacturERS.... although that does of course cover manufacturers. So yes, S and B may be codes for that manufacturer, but obviously they had two plants, probably in two different locations. It's quite possible that one of those plants used their own numbering system for some reason. Don't forget the non-Sega consoles don't comply with the numbering system, either - and Tec Toy didn't seem to bother with serial numbers!
Yes there were 5 digit codes - like steve4's. I have a feeling they were only early on, though.
I don't think Saturns were manufactured in the US or Europe, IIRC. Therefore, they should all be made in the same plants with the same numbering system. It could be that the plant number is actually the same facility in some cases, but they give it a different plant code to represent the country. Manufacturers never use the same serial number in different countries because the serial number identifies the specific machine, where it was manufactured, what territory it was sold in etc.
When I eventually locate my manuals, I'd be able to tell you CD drive differences in early models, sure.
Hi-Saturns do use the same system as normal boards though, except for the Navi.
The only plant-specific numbering I know was for the machines built by Sega Logistics Service, where the serials all started from 500000. So like AC7Z511561 or AC79500485. And the Seiyo Denshi machines starting with S, which are odd all around.
I know the Saturns weren't manufactured in EU/US - they were primarily made in Japan, with secondary plants in China, Phillipines, Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia. What I meant is, do all machines follow the same serial number order, or were different region machines assigned their own serials? For example, did they go like this: AD69 0-20000 = HST-3220 AD69 20001-40000 = MK-80200A-50 AD69 40001-60000 = HST-3220 again
or this: HST-3220 AD69 0-60000 MK-80200A-50 AD69 0-60000 etc.
If they follow the latter, then it's only possible to estimate the global number of Saturns, and not the ones for every separate region. Furthermore, the numbers may interact with the Hi-Saturns, which also use standard Sega numbering, so it won't be possible to measure those either. In fact, the highest serial I've seen for that doesn't even break 10000, so they were produced in awfully small quantities.
Yes, I realize that giving estimates based on the serials is highly inaccurate, because they could've skipped any amount of serial numbers during production for whatever reasons (like production defects). But with the serials on the board stickers and on the case stickers mismatching very often, I'm thinking that the serial on the back was printed on once the machine passed QA and was ready to be sold.
Did your UK manuals state how many different boards were created in Europe? I only saw VA0, 1, 3, 5 and 9 models so far, all of them starting with AD or 1 in the serial. The VA0 model was the only one starting with 0, and I wish I knew it was special before I modded it to hell. The VA9 model is an interesting hybrid also, it uses many ICs from older models, even though many of them were replaced by this generation in NTSC machines.
And it looks like VA9 motherboards were only used for Model 2 PAL Saturns and Model 2 Hi-Saturns.
Like I said, no manufacturer uses the same serial number twice. Ever. Sega need to be able to identify that exact console, they do so by serial number. There's no such thing as a PAL AD69 0-60000 and a NTSC AD69 0-60000.
I think Sega may well have had the Hi-Saturns made for Hitachi, hence why they used the same numbering. Why Victor didn't choose to do likewise, I don't know. Although technically, I guess it's not the same numbering, really.
Of course the board serial numbers don't match those on the back. Stickers are the last thing to be applied, yes. However, Sega didn't make all the parts for the Saturn themselves! An electronics company printed the boards, and a plastics company formed the cases. The electronics company may well have done the PCB assembly (mounting components), too. The boards would have been shipped to one of the assembly plants, as would the plastics, for assembly. This stage may well have been handled by Sega themselves.
ALL serial numbers are plant-specific. Either that, or (as per a lot of serial numbering), there's a date code in there, too. Without seeing the factory data, I don't think that's the case, though.
Just saw your edit. Yes, the service manuals tell you exactly what territory they cover. Here's an old photo I found amongst my stuff:
Yeah, that's why I think there weren't any skipped serials, since those were the last things applied (it's just a sticker, that they printed a serial upon). So counting the serials could be used to give a pretty damn good estimate on how many Saturns were produced. Though we'd need thousands of samples to get accurate numbers.
Also, here's what I've been working on (link). Pictures haven't been added yet, I need to do those one by one. And I've filled a lot of unreadable parts based on what other similar serials had (so crap like 670-8063A may not be visible on the photo, but it's there in the DB cause every other Saturn with a similar serial used that). I think I have enough samples on japanese Saturns to look for exceptions in the rule now.
You're assuming the serials started at 000001, though. I very much doubt that's the case. Likewise, you don't know the end number. IF you could determine the start number, and that they used every sequential number after that, then yes - you could say that having console number 020000 suggests there are at least 20,000. It's a big if, though.
So I measure from the lowest number I have to the highest one. The more samples there is in the DB, the more accurate the numbers become. The lowest number I have in any series is 000020, which is pretty close to 000001, especially given how I lucked into it with such a low amount of samples. Yes, I don't have anything near that low on all runs, but with a DB of only 600+ samples, it can be expected.
What I need to know is when the numbers reset back to zero. Both Year and hardware generation advancement seems to roll them over to zero, except for one case (from B6A to B7A), where serials seem to advance normally - but this may just be cause I found no serials inbetween the two yet.
I haven't measured the numbers yet, though - if they come out to something completely implausible, then obviously there's something I'm doing wrong.
What's the highest first two digits of the last 6 digits in your database? Skimming through, I'd say 51 is the highest (The Z console)
Does that mean that there were 500,000 consoles manufactured in that year in that facility? Perhaps. How about this, though....
There are 52 weeks in the year. You haven't got one sample that goes above 52.
Of course, that theory leaves us with only 4 digits for the serial. How many consoles do you think they can make in one plant in a week (well, 5 days I guess)? Would 10,000 be a reasonale limit?
Incidentally, you're right - that low number does suggest that the numbering system may indeed start from 0 - nice find! ;-)
I thought of that, but it doesn't work because: - Models made in 1994 go from 000897 to 288520. Does this mean they worked from 1st week to 28th week? Assuming that they needed to produce units in advance of the 1994 November launch, that's still too much. - no other line has a serial as high, and it wouldn't make sense if they built all Saturns in the first half of a year. Especially that they went from VA2 to VA10 in one year. - The serials that start at 500000 ALL belong to one manufacturer: Sega Logistics Service. Seeing as they did a VERY low amount of Saturns, relatively, and that they span from 96 to 97 with the same hardware model, it's unlikely that they count the weeks that way. They may have just started the count from 500k instead of zero. Or the 5 stands for something else we haven't yet figured out, and they use 5 letter serials.
Incidentally, VA9 Saturns were only in PAL models, Hi-Saturns, or hst-3220 made by Sega Logistics. I already have a PAL unit, I wonder how the motherboard differs in the other two.
The thing is - you don't know how many they'd produce in a week.
Week 1 could be 1,000. Week 2 they make none. Week 3 they make 500. And so on. Just because they're including a date code, doesn't mean they actually build every week - or that they make the same amount every week. On top of that, remember this is the ASSEMBLY process. The boards are already made.
As for the run-up to the launch date, of course they have to build well in advance. They most likely base their figures on pre-orders. As those go up, so do the builds. Say they make 20,000 consoles in June, ask for pre-orders, and by August they've had 30,000 pre-orders. They realize they have to make more. Then they ask for the US pre-orders. More are made. And so on. Remembering this is the assembly stage again, they've already made all the parts. They might as well put them together! And it could be that they planned to assemble 20,000 but they'd only had 10,000 boards made, or there was a shortage of laser mechs.
As for the 500000 serials, I don't see the problem. If they were made in a very short run, they could all be made in one week - no? Week 50! That would be December. Perhaps they resumed production in January but thought - sod it, we've only made 200, let's stick with this 50 numbering! At least it won't make people think we haven't sold any due to low serial numbers! Haha
Now, I'm not saying my theory is correct - it's just a theory. And yes, there do seem to be some holes.
Incidentally, I think my earliest Saturn is VA0 001489 - strange how that uses 6 digits and some use 5. I'm also very surprised, given what this console is, that it has such a low serial number.
Yeah, but something like B40 000800 can't be week 0 because that would imply that the entire Saturn hardware was finalized an production ready by 94 january, and that doesn't seem right to me. Dev kits, yeah. But finalized hardware? No way. Especially since the BIOS dates to 1994 September 21, unless they opened the finished units from january and reworked the bios chips in them.
Granted there are many things I don't know of the production process, but with the data I have, having weeks in the serial doesn't seem right to me. I'm just going on logical assumptions here.
Going back on topic a bit, can you post pictures of the serial on your saturns? Ultimately, the more samples I have in the DB, the more accurate predictions we can do.
Of course, if they did use a date code, who's to say that week 1 is January? It could be that week 1 is whenever production started. They could then have reset the counter to January for 1995. Anyway, that's mere speculation once again
My stuff is mostly in storage - when I'm there and have enough time to dig around, I'll take some pics.