The PlayStation (officially abbreviated as PS and commonly known as the PS1 or its codename PSX) is a home video game console developed and marketed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was first released on 3 December 1994 in Japan, on 9 September 1995 in North America, on 29 September 1995 in Europe, and on 15 November 1995 in Australia, and was the first of the PlayStation lineup of video game consoles. As a fifth generation console, the PlayStation primarily competed with the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn.
|Developer||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Type||Home video game console|
|Introductory price||¥39,800, US$299|
|Discontinued||23 March 2006|
|Units sold||102.49 million|
|CPU||R3000 @ 33.8688 MHz|
|Memory||2 MB RAM, 1 MB VRAM|
|Sound||16-bit, 24 channel ADPCM|
|Controller input||PlayStation Controller, Dual Analog Controller, DualShock|
|Connectivity||PlayStation Link Cable|
|Best-selling game||Gran Turismo, 10.85 million shipped|
The PlayStation was the first "computer entertainment platform" to ship over 100 million units, which it had reached nine years after its initial launch. In July 2000, a redesigned, slim version called the PS one was released, replacing the original grey console and named appropriately to avoid confusion with its successor, the PlayStation 2.
The PlayStation 2, which is backwards compatible with the PlayStation's DualShock controller and games, was announced in 1999 and launched in 2000. The last PS one units were sold in late 2006 to early 2007 shortly after it was officially discontinued, for a total of 102 million units shipped since its launch eleven years earlier. Games for the PlayStation continued to sell until Sony ceased production of both the PlayStation and PlayStation games on 23 March 2006 – over eleven years after it had been released, and less than a year before the debut of the PlayStation 3.
On 19 September 2018, Sony unveiled the PlayStation Classic to mark the 24th anniversary of the original console. The new console is a miniature recreation of the original PlayStation, preloaded with 20 titles released on the original console, and was released on 3 December 2018, the exact date the console was released in Japan in 1994.
The inception of what would become the released PlayStation dates back to 1986 with a joint venture between Nintendo and Sony. Nintendo had already produced floppy disk technology to complement cartridges, in the form of the Family Computer Disk System, and wanted to continue this complementary storage strategy for the Super Famicom. Nintendo approached Sony to develop a CD-ROM add-on, tentatively titled the "Play Station" or "SNES-CD". A contract was signed, and work began. Nintendo's choice of Sony someone they had worked with before, Ken Kutaragi, who would later be called "The Father of the PlayStation", was the individual who had sold Nintendo on using the Sony SPC-700 processor for use as the eight-channel ADPCM sound set in the Super Famicom/SNES console through an impressive demonstration of the processor's capabilities.
Kutaragi was nearly fired by Sony because he was originally working with Nintendo on the side without Sony's knowledge (while still employed by Sony). It was then-CEO, Norio Ohga, who recognised the potential in Kutaragi's chip, and in working with Nintendo on the project. Ohga kept Kutaragi on at Sony, and it was not until Nintendo cancelled the project that Sony decided to develop its own console.
Sony also planned to develop a Super NES-compatible, Sony-branded console, but one which would be more of a home entertainment system playing both Super NES cartridges and a new CD format which Sony would design. This was also to be the format used in SNES-CDs, giving a large degree of control to Sony despite Nintendo's leading position in the video gaming market.
The product, under the name "Play Station", was to be announced at the May 1991 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). However, when Nintendo's Hiroshi Yamauchi read the original 1988 contract between Sony and Nintendo, he realised that the earlier agreement essentially handed Sony complete control over any and all titles written on the SNES CD-ROM format. Yamauchi decided that the contract was totally unacceptable and he secretly cancelled all plans for the joint Nintendo–Sony SNES CD attachment. Instead of announcing a partnership between Sony and Nintendo, at 9 am the day of the CES, Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln stepped onto the stage and revealed that Nintendo was now allied with Philips, and Nintendo was planning on abandoning all the previous work Nintendo and Sony had accomplished. Lincoln and Minoru Arakawa had, unbeknownst to Sony, flown to Philips' global headquarters in the Netherlands and formed an alliance of a decidedly different nature—one that would give Nintendo total control over its licenses on Philips machines.
After the collapse of the joint-Nintendo project, Sony briefly considered allying itself with Sega to produce a stand-alone console. The Sega CEO at the time, Tom Kalinske, took the proposal to Sega's Board of Directors in Tokyo, who promptly vetoed the idea. Kalinske, in a 2013 interview recalled them saying "that's a stupid idea, Sony doesn't know how to make hardware. They don't know how to make software either. Why would we want to do this?". This prompted Sony into halting their research, but ultimately the company decided to use what it had developed so far with both Nintendo and Sega to make it into a complete console based upon the Super Famicom. As a result, Nintendo filed a lawsuit claiming breach of contract and attempted, in US federal court, to obtain an injunction against the release of what was originally christened the "Play Station", on the grounds that Nintendo owned the name. The federal judge presiding over the case denied the injunction and, in October 1991, the first incarnation of the aforementioned brand new game system was revealed. However, it is theorised that only 200 or so of these machines were ever produced.
By the end of 1992, Sony and Nintendo reached a deal whereby the "Play Station" would still have a port for SNES games, but Nintendo would own the rights and receive the bulk of the profits from the games, and the SNES would continue to use the Sony-designed audio chip. However, Sony decided in early 1993 to begin reworking the "Play Station" concept to target a new generation of hardware and software. As part of this process the SNES cartridge port was dropped and the space between the names "Play Station" was removed becoming "PlayStation", thereby ending Nintendo's involvement with the project. According to a Sony engineer, all work on the console from the time of the partnership with Nintendo was eventually scrapped, and the PlayStation design was restarted from scratch. Sony's North American division, known as Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), originally planned to market the new console under the alternative branding "PSX" following the negative feedback regarding "PlayStation" in focus group studies. Early advertising prior to the console's launch in North America referenced PSX, but the term was scrapped before launch.
According to SCE's producer Ryoji Akagawa and chairman Shigeo Maruyama, there was uncertainty over whether the console should primarily focus on 2D sprite graphics or 3D polygon graphics. It was only after witnessing the success of Sega's Virtua Fighter in Japanese arcades that "the direction of the PlayStation became instantly clear" and 3D polygon graphics became the console's primary focus.
Since Sony had no experience in game development and the managers knew about it, the company turned to third-party game developers. With support from Namco, Konami, and Williams, as well as 250 other development teams in Japan alone, the company secured the launch of new games such as Ridge Racer and Mortal Kombat 3. In addition, Sony bought the European company Psygnosis for US$48 million, and renamed it Sony Interactive Entertainment, which began developing games for the future console, including Wipeout and Destruction Derby.
The purchase of Psygnosis also brought other benefits to the company, including a dedicated game development kit for the console. With the help of Psygnosis, SN Systems was publishing software development tools called PSY-Q. Initially Sony planned to use its own game development kit based on the expensive R4000 processor; however, Andy Beveridge and Martin Day, owners of SN Systems, built a prototype of the development tool, which used an ordinary personal computer, and showed it to the representatives of Sony at the winter CES in 1994. Sony executives liked the alternative, and the company helped SN Systems with condensing the development kit on two PC extension boards.
Industry hype for the console spread quickly, and in early 1994 GamePro reported that "many video game companies [feel] that in the near future, the video game platforms to contend with will be from Nintendo, Sega... and Sony." [emphasis in original].
PlayStation went on sale in Japan on December 3, 1994, a week after the release of its rival Sega Saturn, at a price of ¥39,800. Sales in Japan began with a "stunning" success, with long lines in stores, and it sold 100,000 units on the first day, and then two million units after six months on the market. After a while, a gray market emerged for the consoles, which were shipped from Japan to the US and Europe, and buyers of such consoles paid large amounts of money in the range of GB£700.
Before the release in North America, Sega and Sony presented their game consoles at the first Electronic Entertainment Expo conference, held in May 1995. First, Sega announced its Saturn console, and announced that it will be released at a price of US$399. Immediately after that, Olaf Olafsson, the head of the Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), summoned Steve Race, the head of development, to the conference stage, who said "$299" and left the audience with a round of applause. The attention to the Sony conference was also attracted by the appearance of Michael Jackson and the showcase of games for the console: WipEout, Ridge Racer and Tekken. In addition, Sony has announced that Ridge Racer will not be bundled with the console as previously expected.
In North America, PlayStation went on sale on September 9, 1995 at the previously announced price of $299. There were over 100,000 pre-orders placed and 17 games available on the market by the time of launch. The launch was a success, and the stores reportedly were running out of consoles and accessories. In Europe, PlayStation was released on September 29, 1995, and finally in November 1995 in Oceania. During the first four months – from September to the end of 1995 – sales of the console in the U.S. amounted to 800,000 units, giving the PlayStation a commanding lead over the other fifth generation consoles, though the Super NES and Sega Genesis from the fourth generation still outsold it. At the same time, according to the president of SCEA, the attach rate of sold games and consoles was 4 to 1. The console was marketed with advertising slogans such as, "Live in your world. Play in ours", stylised as "LIVE IN Y
Critics generally welcomed the new console. The staff of Next Generation reviewed the PlayStation a few weeks after its North American launch, where they commented that, while the CPU is "fairly average", the supplementary custom hardware, such as the GPU and sound processor, is stunningly powerful. They praised the PlayStation's focus on 3D, and complemented on the comfort of its controller and the convenience of its memory cards. Giving the system 41⁄2 out of 5 stars, they concluded, "To succeed in this extremely cut-throat market, you need a combination of great hardware, great games, and great marketing. Whether by skill, luck, or just deep pockets, Sony has scored three out of three in the first salvo of this war." In a special Game Machine Cross Review in May 1995, Famicom Tsūshin would score the PlayStation console a 19 out of 40.
The PlayStation's success was partially due to Sony's approach to third party developers. While Sega and Nintendo took an isolationist approach, focusing primarily on first party development while generally ignoring the concerns of third party developers, Sony streamlined game production by providing a range of online programming libraries that were constantly updated. They also organised third party technical support teams, and in some cases gave direct development support to third parties. At the close of 1996, approximately 400 games were being developed for the PlayStation, compared to approximately 200 and 60 games being developed for the Saturn and the Nintendo 64 respectively.
While the Sega Saturn was marketed towards 18 to 34 year-olds, the PlayStation was marketed roughly, but not exclusively, towards 12 to 24 year-olds. Both Sony and Sega reasoned that because younger players typically look up to older, more experienced players, advertising targeted at teens and adults would draw them in too. Additionally, Sony found that adults react best to advertising geared towards teenagers; according to Lee Clow, "One of the first things we resolved early on was that everyone is 17 when they play video games. The young people look up to the best gamer who is usually a little older and more practiced and talented. Then there are people who start working and grow up, but when they go into their room and sit down with their video games, they're regressing and becoming 17 again." Initially, PlayStation demographics were skewed towards adults, but the audience broadened after the first price drop.
In 1996, Sony expanded their CD production facilities in Springfield, Oregon, due to the high demand for PlayStation games. This increased their monthly output from 4 million discs to 6.5 million discs. This was necessary because PlayStation sales were running at twice the rate of Saturn sales, and dramatically increased their lead when both the PlayStation and Saturn dropped in price to $199 in May; this was largely because some retailers (such as KB Toys) did not stock the Saturn. The PlayStation also outsold the Saturn at a similar ratio in Europe during 1996, with an accumulated 2.2 million consoles sold in the region by the end of the year. Sales figures for PlayStation hardware and software only increased following the launch of the Nintendo 64. Sony Computer Entertainment president Teruhisa Tokunaka speculated that the Nintendo 64 launch had actually helped PlayStation sales by raising public awareness of the gaming market through Nintendo's added marketing efforts.
However, the PlayStation took longer to achieve dominance in Japan. Tokunaka stated that, even after the PlayStation and Saturn had been on the market for nearly two years, the competition between them was still "very close", and that neither console had led in sales for any meaningful length of time.
In addition to playing games, select PlayStation models are equipped to play audio CDs; further, Asian model SCPH-5903 can also play Video CDs. Like most CD players, the PlayStation can play songs in a programmed order, shuffle the playback order of the disc and repeat one song or the entire disc. Later PlayStation models utilise a music visualisation function called SoundScope. This function, as well as a memory card manager, is accessed by starting the console without either inserting a game or closing the CD tray, thereby accessing a GUI for the PlayStation BIOS.
The GUI for the PS one and PlayStation differ depending on the firmware version: the original PlayStation GUI had a dark blue background with rainbow graffiti used as buttons, while the early PAL PlayStation and PS one GUI had a grey blocked background with 2 icons in the middle (these were different on each version). If the CD lid is closed with a game inside at any time while in the menu, the game will start.
As of 30 June 2007, 7,918 software titles had been released worldwide for the PlayStation (counting games released in multiple regions as separate titles). As of 31 March 2007, the cumulative software shipment was at 962 million units. FIFA Football 2005 was the last game released for the system in the United States. However, several reprinted and remastered editions were released in later years. On 26 July 2007, Konami released Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection, which contained Metal Gear Solid in the original PlayStation format. In 2011, Capcom released the Resident Evil 15th Anniversary Collection, and in 2012, Square Enix released the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box in Japan containing all of the Final Fantasy titles, a majority of which were in the original PlayStation format.
Initially, in the United States, PlayStation games were packaged in long cardboard boxes, similar to non-Japanese 3DO and Saturn games. Sony later switched to the jewel case format typically used for audio CDs and Japanese video games, as this format took up less retailer shelf space (which was at a premium due to the large number of PlayStation games being released), and focus testing showed that most consumers preferred this format.
The OK and Cancel buttons in most of the Japanese PlayStation games are reversed in their North American and European releases. In Japan, the
In regard to the PlayStation's hardware, its designer Ken Kutaragi said, "The technology came from an original idea to create a synthesizer for graphics, something that takes a basic graphic and then adds various effects to it quickly and easily." Kutaragi saw the biggest challenge in developing the system to be balancing the conflicting goals of high performance, low cost, and being easy to program for, and felt he and his team were successful in this regard: "Sure, it would have been nice to, say, double the size of the RAM memory. This would have been very easy. But ... it would have cost more at retail level, and we probably would not have sold as many. Sure, Nintendo 64 now has a faster clock speed, but the ratio of clock speed to price typically doubles every two years, so it's no surprise that it is faster. But PlayStation was the cutting-edge technology of its time, and I am happy with it."
The PlayStation utilises a proprietary video compression unit called MDEC, which is integrated into the CPU, allowing for the presentation of full motion video at a higher quality than other consoles of its generation.
With the early PlayStation units, particularly early 1000 models, many gamers experience skipping full-motion video or physical "ticking" noises coming from their units. The problem seemingly comes from poorly placed vents leading to overheating in some environments. This causes the plastic mouldings inside the console to warp slightly and create knock-on effects with the laser assembly. The solution is to sit the console on a surface which dissipates heat efficiently in a well vented area or raise the unit up slightly from its resting surface. Sony representatives also recommended unplugging the PlayStation when it is not in use, as the system draws in a small amount of power (and therefore heat) even when turned off.
The first batch of PlayStations use a KSM-440AAM laser unit, whose case and movable parts are all built out of plastic. Over time, the plastic lens sled rail wears out—usually unevenly—due to friction. The placement of the laser unit close to the power supply accelerates wear, due to the additional heat, which makes the plastic more vulnerable to friction. Eventually, one side of the lens sled will become so worn that the laser can tilt, no longer pointing directly at the CD; after this, games will no longer load, due to data read errors. One common fix is turning the PlayStation upside down, which makes the lens sled rest on the unworn top rails. Sony eventually fixed the problem by making the sled out of die-cast metal and placing the laser unit further away from the power supply on later PlayStation models.
The PlayStation does not produce a proper signal on several older models of televisions (due to an engineering oversight) causing the display to flicker or bounce around the screen. Sony decided not to change the console design, since only a small percentage of PlayStation owners used such televisions, and instead gave consumers the option of sending their PlayStation unit to a Sony service centre to have an official modchip installed, allowing it to play on older televisions.
Prior to the PlayStation, reproducing copyrighted material for game consoles was restricted to either enthusiasts with exceptional technical ability, or people who had access to CD manufacturers. However, due to the increased availability of cheap CD burners at this time, Sony modified the shape of the first portion of the data track on PlayStation formatted discs: A normal data track follows a smooth spiral path around a disc, whereas the modified portion follows a wavy spiral path. As a result, any discs that did not contain this modification, such as CD-R copies or standard pirated discs, would not boot on the console. This modified portion of the data path is also used to encode the disc "region"; for example, a disc distributed in the NTSC-U/C region would encode the letters "SCEA"; in Europe "SCEE" and in Japan "SCEI". This served as copy protection as well as region-locking.
The installation of an unofficial modchip allowed the PlayStation to play CD-R copies of games. It also allowed the console to play games from any region, as the modchip could inject the data for any region into the system. Since there was a multitude of electronic parts on the market, by the end of the system's life cycle, anyone with minimal soldering experience could perform these modifications. This created a wave of games developed without official approval using free, official tools, such as the Net Yaroze, as well as unofficial tools, and the reproduction of original discs. With the introduction of such devices the console became very attractive to programmers and illegal copiers alike, as well as those who wished to protect the lifespan of their lawful, original discs. In 1996 Sony filed lawsuits against many companies which advertised such modchips and pirated games, under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Some companies (notably Datel) eventually produced discs that booted on unmodified retail units while using special equipment.
Instead of a D-pad, which is used for directional movement in nearly every other console then on the market, the PlayStation controller uses four directional buttons.
Peripherals released for the PlayStation include memory cards, the PlayStation Mouse, the PlayStation Analog Joystick, the PlayStation Link Cable, the Multiplayer Adapter (a four-player multitap), the Memory Drive (a disk drive for 3.5 inch floppy disks), the GunCon (a light gun), and the Glasstron (a monoscopic head-mounted display).
- CPU: 32-bit RISC MIPS R3000A-compatible MIPS R3051 (33.8688 MHz)
- MDEC (motion decoder) for FMV playback
- RAM: 2 MB main, 1 MB video
- Graphics: GPU and Geometry Transformation Engine (GTE), with 2D rotation, scaling (2.5D), transparency and fading, and 3D affine texture mapping and shading
- Colors: 16.7 million (True Color)
- Sprites: 4,000
- Polygons: 180,000 per second (textured), 360,000 per second (flat-shaded)
- Resolution: 256×224 to 640×480 pixels (480i)
- Sound: 16-bit, 24 channel ADPCM
The PlayStation went through a number of variants during its production run. From an external perspective, the most notable change between variants was the reduction in the number of connectors. The RCA jacks were removed in the first revision, and the Parallel I/O port was removed in the final revision.
Sony marketed a development kit for hobbyists and developers also known as the Net Yaroze, which launched in June 1996 in Japan and in 1997 in other countries. Sold only through an ordering service, the development console came with the necessary documentation and software to program PlayStation games and applications.
On 7 July 2000, Sony released the PS One (stylized as PS one), a smaller, redesigned version of the original PlayStation. It was the highest-selling console through the end of the year, outselling all other consoles – including Sony's own PlayStation 2. A total of 28.15 million PS one units had been sold by the time it was discontinued in March 2006. A version of the PS one included a 5-inch (130 mm) LCD screen, referred to as the "Combo pack".
On 19 September 2018, Sony announced the PlayStation Classic. It was released on 3 December 2018. It featured 20 pre-installed video games such as Tekken 3, Final Fantasy VII, Jumping Flash, Wild Arms and Ridge Racer Type 4. It also features two replicas of the wired PlayStation controllers without analog sticks. It also features an HDMI output. The maximum resolution is 720p. It is 45% smaller than the original console.
Sony Computer Entertainment was an upstart in the video game industry in late 1994, as the early 1990s were dominated by Nintendo and Sega. Nintendo had been the clear leader in the video game industry since the introduction of the NES in 1985 and the Nintendo 64 was initially expected to maintain this position for Nintendo. The PlayStation's target audience included 15- to 17-year-olds who were not the primary focus of Nintendo, and 18- to 29-year-olds, who represented the first generation to grow up playing video games. By the late 1990s, Sony became a highly regarded console brand due to the PlayStation, with a significant lead over second-place Nintendo, while Sega was relegated to a distant third.
The PlayStation's lead in installed base and developer support paved the way for the success of the next-generation PlayStation 2, which overcame an early launch from the Sega Dreamcast and then fended off competition from the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube.
The success of the PlayStation is widely believed to have influenced the demise of the cartridge-based home console. While not the first system to utilise an optical disc format, it is the first highly successful one, and ended up going head-to-head with the last major home console for over two decades to rely on proprietary cartridges—the Nintendo 64. Sony Computer Entertainment president Teruhisa Tokunaka remarked in 1996:
Choosing CD-ROM is one of the most important decisions that we made. As I'm sure you understand, PlayStation could just as easily have worked with masked ROM [cartridges]. The 3D engine and everything – the whole PlayStation format – is independent of the media. But for various reasons (including the economies for the consumer, the ease of the manufacturing, inventory control for the trade, and also the software publishers) we deduced that CD-ROM would be the best media for PlayStation.
Nintendo was very public about its scepticism toward using CD's and DVDs to store games, citing longer load times and durability issues. It was widely speculated that the company was even more concerned with the proprietary cartridge format's ability to help enforce copy protection, given its substantial reliance on licensing and exclusive titles for its revenue. Piracy was rampant on the PlayStation due to the relative ease of the installation of a modchip allowing the PlayStation to play games region free or recorded on a regular CD-R making the console very attractive to programmers and illegal copiers.
The increasing complexity of games (in content, graphics, and sound) pushed cartridges to their storage limits and this gradually turned off some third-party developers. Part of the CD format's appeal to publishers was that they could be produced at a significantly lower cost and offered more production flexibility to meet demand. As a result, some third-party developers switched to the PlayStation, such as Squaresoft, whose Final Fantasy VII, and Enix (later merged with Squaresoft create Square Enix), whose Dragon Quest VII titles were initially pre-planned for the N64; while some who remained released fewer games to the Nintendo 64 (Konami, releasing only thirteen N64 games but over fifty on the PlayStation). While new games were coming out rapidly for the PlayStation, new Nintendo 64 game releases were less frequent and that system's biggest successes were developed by either Nintendo itself or by second-parties, such as Rare. The lower production costs also allowed publishers an additional source of profit: budget-priced reissues of titles which had already recouped their development costs.
A successor, the PlayStation 2 was released in Japan in March 2000, North America in October 2000 and Europe in November 2000.
- PlayStation (プレイステーション Pureisutēshon)
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