The Sony PlayStation.... the console that almost wasn't.
Back in 1986 Sony and Nintendo were in bed together creating a CD ROM based add-on for Nintendo's Super Famicom / Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) that was loosely dubbed the 'SNES-CD'.
In June 1991 at the Consumer Electronic Show Sony gave punters the first look at the what was now called the 'Play Station' (note the space), a hybrid, all in one CD ROM Super Famicom/SNES system. However, a day after it was unveiled Nintendo broke their partnership with Sony in favour of creating a system with Philips and to top it off they'd be using the technology used to create the existing system.
To Sony President Norio Ohga this was the most humiliating 'yo' momma' joke imaginable and he set Ken Kutaragi the task of creating a new console that would outrival the one Nintendo and Philips were planning to create. Time went on, the project wasn't going great and was almost scuttled by doubting senior and older Sony executives. It was only Kutaragi reminding Ohga of the terrible insult Nintendo had exacted upon him that saved it. As part of its salvation the project was moved to Sony Music which is financially separate from Sony.
Doing so prevented a souring of relationships between Sony and Philips over the development of the MMCD which eventually blossomed into what we now know as the DVD.
Nintendo tried to further impact on the Play Station's release by filing a lawsuit in the US Federal Court stating that they owned the name 'Play Station' but the case was closed in the favour of Sony paving the way for the new Play Station to be showcased in 1991.
A further deal with Nintendo was agreed upon which saw the Play Station get a SNES ROM cartridge port but by 1993 the development of the Play Station had moved towards more current technologies and the port was removed. At the same time the space between Play and Station was also removed as a final cutting of ties with Nintendo.
The Sony PlayStation as we know it was first released to Japanese consumers in December of 1994 and almost a year later to North America, Europe and Australia. It was extremely successful which saw it become the first game console to sell more than one hundred million units and production of the PlayStation ran for eleven years.
Earlier models had issues with heat and the laser mount being too close to the power supply. This saw the laser's travel move out of alignment causing juddering during Full Motion Video (FMV) and eventually games to loading at all. The practical solution was to put your PlayStation up onto its side or perch it upside down which was a common solution that worked surprisingly well.
Licensed PlayStation game titles came on black CDs. The top surfaces were printed with the relevant game art, title, copyright information, etc. but the undersides were totally glossy black. Much speculation about why this was done arose and many thought it was from of copy protection. In truth, it just looked cool.
While the PlayStation launched at a reasonable price in the United States, consumers were burnt in other parts of the world such as Australia where the unit went on sale for $700 - $799 depending on the retailer. The price then dropped only a few months later to around $400 before dropping again. It's speculated that this made Australian consumers disinclined to rush to purchase new console hardware in the following years before waiting to see what would happen with the price. This pricing concern was reinforced with early sales of the Microsoft XBOX being far more expensive than the console retailed for once initial sales had been made.
There's plenty of good sites on-line detailing the
PlayStation's system specs. but safe is to say that it was and is an
amazing console that truly deserves the appreciation it's given both in
hardware and supporting software titles. With its small footprint and
robust design, enthusiasts will be able to keep and enjoy their units
for years to come. Due to the relative ease that the console can be
modified to play unlicensed and pirated software its modern day life has
been extended even further.
|Unit pictured has been sold and its location is unknown.|