The Sega Dreamcast was Sega's last best hope as a console maker after their Sega Saturn tanked badly. Released in 1998, it was the first of the sixth generation systems, the first major console to come with a modem and online play capability, and was far superior to not only everything then on the market, but was in many ways better than the systems that would eclipse it.
Less than a year after a highly successful release, the Playstation 2 came out and that was really the end of the console wars for a long time. The PS2 is the highest selling system ever, and Sega simply couldn't stay in the system business that now had not only their old rivals Nintendo, but giant corporations like Sony and Microsoft. The Dreamcast was quietly discontinued in America in 2001.
Still, it left behind a legacy, and several interesting tidbits that you may not know.
10. Dreamcast Games Were Almost Available on Xbox: Sega didn't want to go down without a fight, and they were actively trying to partner with Microsoft to see if the Dreamcast could survive along side the Xbox. SEGA Chairman Isao Okawa met with Bill Gates several times to try and make the Xbox compatible with Dreamcast games. Microsoft balked at providing online-play support for the Dreamcast titles, but otherwise seemed open to the idea. A deal was, obviously, never reached.
9. It Was The Most Easily Piratable Console Ever: The Dreamcast tried real hard to curb the rising wave of game piracy with its custom GD-ROM discs that were supposed to make piracy much harder. Instead, all it took to pirate games was a few free programs and a CD-R of the Dreamcast Disc Image. You didn't even need a mod chip to do it like on the Playstation. In fact, Sega finally gave up when...
8. An Employee Gave Instructions on How to Pirate Every Genesis Game on a Dreamcast: The group behind most of the Sega piracy was called Echelon. Whenever a game came out Echelon had it up within days for download. Finally, Sega Smash Pack: Volume 1 was released in 2001, a collection of seven old Genesis games. Hidden in the game's code was a .txt file named Echelon that gave instructions on how to pirate Genesis games onto the Dreamcast. It was signed "Gary" and is believed to be the work of the lead American programmer for Sega Smash Pack, Gary Lake.
7. It Had a Maraca Controller: Sega had an arcade game called Samba de Amiga that they wanted to port to the Dreamcast. The game was basically just you shaking maracas in tune to pop Latin songs in a way that cannot look anything other than lame. The home controllers used an ultrasonic transmitter to properly align your shaking motions, and actually worked pretty well. No other official releases supported the maracas, but they could be used in the game Mr. Driller.
6. And It Had a Train Controller Too: Densha de Go! is a long-running series of train simulator games in Japan from Taito that's recently been acquired by Square Enix. Densha de Go! 2 Kōsoku-hen 3000-bandai got a port to the Dreamcast, and it came with a pretty slick custom controller. Other controllers for PS2 and Wii are also available in Japan.