32-bit CD Based Game Console - Dismantled for reference and curiosity
In 1991 Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins started a company called 'The 3DO Company' that was given the mission to come up with a CD based, interactive multimedia platform. Basically they came up with the design for the '3DO' (Three-Dimensional Operating System) with the intention of selling it to a number of prospective electronics manufacturers. This they did.
Come 1993 Panasonic released the '3DO Interactive Multiplayer' commonly shortened to just the '3DO'. In 1994 both Goldstar and Sanyo released their versions of the 3DO to the market.
By design it's an open platform for developers and marketers having no regional lockout feature as traditionally employed by SEGA and Nintendo. It's also totally copy protection free which unfortunately paved the way to easy software piracy.
System specs. are readily available online, however safe is to say that it was a pretty neat piece of tech and well in advance of hardware offered by competitors.
Game-wise the 3DO offers polygon based environments painted with rich textures and a surprisingly fast update rate as well as traditional sprite based titles. What the 3DO boasts in addition to this was the ability to pander to the growing interest in full motion video footage titles at the time. Traditionally these were fairly terrible even though they caught the public's imagination and even attracted a number of higher profile actors. See the last few images for screen caps from the titles 'Crash 'n' Burn', 'Way of the Warrior' and 'Sewer Shark'.
Sound could be up to CD quality making for a number of great game soundtracks and provided true voice audio for full motion video games. Another neat thing is that while it only had one controller port player one's gamepad connected to the console and each additional gamepad connects to the back of the previous one in a daisy chain affair of up to eight pads. This meant there is only one cable stretching across the floor to the conole. The original FZ-1 and Goldstar controllers also offered a headphone jack and volume control so gamers could play without bugging the people around them.
While the 3DO was a very impressive piece of hardware compared to the offerings of SEGA and Nintendo it was a VERY expensive by comparison being retailed for $699.95USD at its release. Why so expensive? SEGA and Nintendo worked to the model of selling their consoles and making almost no profit on them and instead making their money on fairly high game royalties. The idea with the 3DO was to make the hardware the money-maker and instead only gather $3.00USD per game sold making it an attractive platform for software developers.
Advertisers worked hard to elevate the public's impression of the 3DO. It was rightly promoted as both a games box and a home entertainment, multimedia system as it can play CDs, Video Discs, display photographs, etc. This too was pretty impressive at the time.
Unfortunately as with so many innovative pieces of tech the public just didn't understand it, embrace it and above all buy it.
Even with this consumer disinterest, the price remained high as marketing placed the 3DO as a high end multimedia system with gaming abilities and so justified the consumer cost. 1994 saw Atari's Jaguar and Sony's Playstation in full circulation and consuming most of the market interest in CD based systems. That combined with poor sales and the SEGA Saturn entering the market saw production of the 3DO cease in late 1996.
Personal Note: The 3DO is a really nifty system that sadly never flourished. It had a lot of new ideas and like Johnny Mnemonic, the public just wasn't ready for it. In all fairness it did have a number of features that very few people had embraced, like playing Video Discs. I guess developers gambled that such new technologies would soon become a household standard if only folks had a cool box to play them in. By today's (2013) standard, the closest market gamble has been Microsoft's attempt to make the XBOX One a central part of home entertainment vs an overblown game box.