PlayStation (console)

Playstation logo colour.svg
PlayStation logo wordmark 1994to2009.svg
Top: The original model with the DualShock controller
Bottom: The smaller, redesigned PS One
DeveloperSony Computer Entertainment
Product familyPlayStation
TypeHome video game console
GenerationFifth generation
Release datePlayStation
  • JP: 3 December 1994 (3 December 1994)[2]
  • NA: 9 September 1995 (9 September 1995)[1]
  • EU: 29 September 1995 (29 September 1995)[3]
  • AU: 15 November 1995 (15 November 1995)[4]
PS one
  • JP: 7 July 2000 (7 July 2000)
  • NA: 19 September 2000 (19 September 2000)
  • EU: 29 September 2000 (29 September 2000)
Introductory price¥39,800, US$299[5]
Discontinued23 March 2006[7][8]
Units sold102.49 million[7]
CPUR3000 @ 33.8688 MHz
Memory2 MB RAM, 1 MB VRAM
StorageMemory card
Sound16-bit, 24 channel ADPCM
Controller inputPlayStation Controller, Dual Analog Controller, DualShock
ConnectivityPlayStation Link Cable
Best-selling gameGran Turismo, 10.85 million shipped[9][10]
SuccessorPlayStation 2

The PlayStation[a] (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,[2] 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.

The PlayStation was the first "computer entertainment platform" to ship over 100 million units, which it had reached nine years after its initial launch.[11] 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.[8]

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.[12]



The inception of what would become the released PlayStation dates back to 1986 with a joint venture between Nintendo and Sony.[13] 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.[14][15] Nintendo approached Sony to develop a CD-ROM add-on, tentatively titled the "Play Station" or "SNES-CD".[16] A contract was signed, and work began.[14] Nintendo's choice of Sony someone they had worked with before, Ken Kutaragi, who would later be called[by whom?] "The Father of the PlayStation",[17] 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.[18]

A photo of the only known SNES-based PlayStation prototype

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).[19] 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.[20]

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.[21][6]

The product, under the name "Play Station", was to be announced at the May 1991 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).[22] 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.[23][22] 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.[24]

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?".[25] 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.[25] 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.[24] 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.[26]

PlayStation Memory Card

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.[24] 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.[27] Sony's North American division, known as Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA),[28] 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.[29][30]

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.[31]

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,[32] Konami, and Williams,[32] 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.[6] 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.[6][33]

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.[6]

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].[34]


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.[5] Sales in Japan began with a "stunning"[14] success, with long lines in stores,[6] and it sold 100,000 units on the first day,[35] and then two million units after six months on the market.[36] 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.[35]

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.[37][38][39] 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.[6][40]

In North America, PlayStation went on sale on September 9, 1995 at the previously announced price of $299.[6] 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.[6] In Europe, PlayStation was released on September 29, 1995,[3] and finally in November 1995 in Oceania.[4] 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,[b][42] though the Super NES and Sega Genesis from the fourth still outsold it.[43] At the same time, according to the president of SCEA, the attach rate of sold games and consoles was 4 to 1.[44] The console was marketed with advertising slogans such as, "Live in your world. Play in ours", stylised as "LIVE IN YOUR WORLD. PLAY IN OURS". The slogan "You Are Not Ready" was also used briefly, stylised as "U R NOT E."[45][6] Regarding the second one, Sony's CCO Lee Clow explained that "it's the ultimate challenge. Gamers love to respond to that tag line and say 'Bullshit. Let me show you how ready I am.'"[46]

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 4​12 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."[41] In a special Game Machine Cross Review in May 1995, Famicom Tsūshin would score the PlayStation console a 19 out of 40.[47]

Market success

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.[48] 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.[49]

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.[50] 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."[51] Initially, PlayStation demographics were skewed towards adults, but the audience broadened after the first price drop.[52]

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.[53] 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.[54] The PlayStation also outsold the Saturn at a similar ratio in Europe during 1996,[55] with an accumulated 2.2 million consoles sold in the region by the end of the year.[56] Sales figures for PlayStation hardware and software only increased following the launch of the Nintendo 64.[57] 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.[52]

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.[52]

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