The PlayStation (プレイステーション) Officially abbreviated as PS; sometimes referred to as the ‘‘‘PSX’’’ was an internal code name for the PlayStation during development. The popular use of the "PSX" abbreviation outside Sony became a source of confusion when Sony introduced its PSX digital video recorder in 2003. PS1, or PSone is a 32-bit fifth-generation video game console first released by Sony Computer Entertainment in Japan on December 3, 1994
The PlayStation was the first of the PlayStation series of consoles and handheld game devices. Successor consoles and upgrades include the Net Yaroze, PS one, PSX, PocketStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation 3 The PlayStation was the first "computer entertainment platform" to ship 100 million units, which it had reached 9 years and 6 months after its initial launch In 2009 the PlayStation was named the 7th greatest video game console of all time, out of a field of 25, by IGN.
Early development Edit
The first conceptions of the PlayStation date back to 1986. Nintendo had been attempting to work with disc-based technology since the Famicom, but the medium had problems. The Famicom Disk System's rewritable magnetic discs could be easily erased (thus leading to a lack of durability), and they lacked any sort of copy protection, thus were vulnerable to piracy. Consequently, when details of CDROM/XA (which had neither of those problems) were released to the public, Nintendo was interested. Simultaneously developed by Sony and Philips, CD-ROM/XA was an extension of the CD-ROM format that combines compressed audio, visual, and computer data, allowing all to be accessed simultaneously. Nintendo approached Sony to develop a CD-ROM add-on, tentatively titled the "SNES-CD". A contract was signed, and work began. Nintendo's choice of Sony was due to a prior dealing: Ken Kutaragi, the person who would later be dubbed "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.
Sony also planned to develop a Super Famicom-compatible, Sony-branded console, but one which would be more of a home entertainment system playing both Super Nintendo cartridges and a new CD format which Sony would design. This was also to be the format used in SNES-CD discs, giving a large degree of control to Sony despite Nintendo's leading position in the video gaming market.
The SNES-CD was to be announced at the May 1991 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). However, when Hiroshi Yamauchi read the original 1988 contract between Sony and Nintendo, he realized 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 canceled all plans for the joint Nintendo-Sony SNES CD attachment. Instead of announcing a partnership between Sony and Nintendo, at 9 a.m. 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 headquarters in Europe 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 project, Sony considered halting their research, but ultimately the company decided to use what they had developed so far and make it into a complete, stand-alone console. 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 the PlayStation, 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 new PlayStation was revealed. However, it is theorized 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.
The PlayStation was launched in Japan on December 3, 1994, North America on September 9, 1995, Europe on September 29, 1995 and Oceania in November 15, 1995. The launch price in the American market was US$299 (a price point later used by its successor, the PlayStation 2), and Sony enjoyed a very successful launch with titles of almost every genre, including Battle Arena Toshinden, Warhawk, Air Combat, Philosoma and Ridge Racer. Almost all of Sony's and Namco's launch titles went on to spawn numerous sequels.
In addition to playing games, the PlayStation has the ability to read and play audio CDs. The CD player has the ability to shuffle the playback order, play the songs in a programmed order, and repeat one song or the entire disk. This function, as well as a memory card manager, can be accessed by starting the console without inserting a game, thereby accessing a system menu. The original PlayStation and PSone menus differ. The PlayStation menu has a dark blue background and buttons that are designed like rainbow graffiti; the PSone has a blocked grey background with 2 icons; one for memory cards management, the other for CD player access (some versions of the original PlayStation have the blocked grey background, however, but the memory card and CD player icons are different). If a game is put in the system at any time on the menu, the game will immediately start.
As of September 30, 2007, a total of 7,918 software titles have been released worldwide (counting games released in multiple regions as separate titles). As of March 31, 2007, the cumulative software shipment was at 962 million units. The very last game for the system released in the United States was FIFA Football 2005. However, it can be noted that on 07/26/07 in Japan and 03/18/08 in the US, Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection was released which contained new printings of the PlayStation 1 game Metal Gear Solid. The discs were in the PlayStation format and playable on the PlayStation and PS One.
The OK and Cancel buttons on most of the Japanese PlayStation games are reversed in their North American and European releases. In Japan, the button (maru, right) is used as the OK button, while the button (batsu, wrong) is used as Cancel. North American and European releases have the button or the buttons as the OK button, while either the , or the buttons are used as Cancel (some titles like Xenogears used the button for cancelling actions and selections, along with the PlayStation 2 system browser and the XrossMedia Bar on the PlayStation 3 and the PSP). However, a few games such as Squaresoft's Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy VII (which used the button as cancel) and Final Fantasy Tactics, Namco's Ridge Racer Type 4 and Konami's Metal Gear Solid, have the buttons remain in the same Japanese configurational layout. Some games like Japanese version of Gran Turismo had used different control similar to North American games. These Japanese button layouts still apply to other PlayStation consoles, such as the PlayStation Portable (PSP), PlayStation 2, and the PlayStation 3. This is because in the early years Sony America (SCEA), Sony Europe (SCEE), and Sony Japan (SCEJ) had different development and testing documents (TRCs) for their respective territories.
The PlayStation went through a number of variants during its production run, each accompanied by a change in the part number. From an external perspective, the most notable change was the gradual reduction in the number of external connectors on the unit. This started very early on—the original Japanese launch units (SCPH-1000) had an S-Video port, which was removed on the next release. This also led to the strange situation where the US and European launch units had the same part number series (SCPH-100x) as the Japanese launch units, but had different hardware (Rev. C silicon and no S-Video port)—they were the same as the Japanese SCPH-3000, so for consistency should have been SCPH-3001 and SCPH-3002 (this numbering was used for the Yaroze machines, which were based on the same hardware and numbered DTL-H3000, DTL-H3001, and DTL-H3002). Also, the first models (DTL-H1000, DTL-H1001, DTL-H1002) had some problems with printf function and developers had to use another function instead. This series of machines had a reputation for CD drive problems—the optical pickup sled was made of thermoplastic, and eventually developed wear spots that moved the laser into a position where it was no longer parallel with the CD surface—a modification was made that replaced the sled with a die-cast one with hard nylon inserts, which corrected the problem.
With the release of the next series (SCPH-500x), the numbers moved back into sync. A number of changes were made to the unit internally (CD drive relocated, shielding simplified, PSU wiring simplified) and the RCA jacks and RFU power connectors were removed from the rear panel. This series also contained the SCPH-550x and SCPH-555x units, but these appear to have been bundle changes rather than actual hardware revisions.
These were followed by the SCPH-700x and SCHP-750x series—they are externally identical to the SCPH-500x machines, but have internal changes made to reduce manufacturing costs (for example, the system RAM went from 4 chips to 1, and the CD controller went from 3 chips to 1).
The final revision to the original PlayStation was the SCPH-900x series—these had the same hardware as the SCPH-750x machines with the exception of the removal of the parallel port and a slight reduction in the size of the PCB. The removal of the parallel port was probably partly because no official add-on had ever been released for it, and partly because it was being used to connect cheat cartridges that could be used to defeat the copy protection.
The PS one was based on substantially the same hardware as the SCPH-750x and 900x, but had the serial port removed, the controller / memory card ports moved to the main PCB and the power supply replaced with a DC-DC converter that was also on the main PCB. With the early units, many gamers experienced skipping full-motion video or dreaded physical "ticking" noises coming from their PlayStations. The problem appears to have come from poorly placed vents leading to overheating in some environments—the plastic moldings inside the console would warp very slightly and create knock-on effects with the laser assembly. The solution was to ensure the console was sat on a surface which dissipated heat efficiently in a well vented area, or raise the unit up slightly by propping something at its edges. A common fix for already affected consoles was to turn the PlayStation sideways or upside-down (thereby using gravity to cancel the effects of the warped interior) although some gamers smacked the lid of the PlayStation to make a game load or work.
Earliest series had potentiometers on the board for adjusting the reading mechanism, named BIAS, GAIN and an unknown one. By connecting a voltmeter between the upper-most metering point near the BIAS potentiometer and the chassis, the resulting voltage could be read. The supposed right values are 1.70V when a CD is spinning at 1x speed and 1.85V when a CD is spinning at 2x speed. Further tuning was also possible on the unique potentiometer present on the CD drive. Later series featured an automatic laser calibration mechanism. Sony then released a version dubbed "Dual Shock", which included a controller with two analog sticks and a built-in vibration-feedback feature.
Another version that was colored blue (as opposed to regular console units that were grey in color) was available to game developers and select press. Later versions of this were colored green—on a technical level, these units were almost identical to the retail units, but had a different CD controller in them that did not require the region code found on all pressed disks, since they were intended to be used with CD-R media for debugging. This also allowed the use of discs from different regions, but this was not officially supported; different debug stations existed for each region. The two different color cases were not cosmetic—the original blue debug station (DTL-H100x, DTL-H110x) contained "Revision B" silicon, the same as the early retail units (these units had silicon errata that needed software workarounds), the green units (DTL-H120x) had Rev. C hardware. As part of the required tests, the user had to test the title on both. Contrary to popular belief, the RAM was the same as the retail units at 2 MB. The firmware was nearly identical—the only significant change was that debug printf()s got sent to the serial port if the title didn't open it for communications—this used a DTL-H3050 serial cable (the same as the one used for the Yaroze).
Another version (SCPH-5903) was also produced that had the ability to play VCDs—this was only sold in Asia, since that format never really caught on anywhere else. From a developer perspective, the white PlayStation could be treated exactly like any other NTSC:J PlayStation
The installation of a modchip allowed the PlayStation's capabilities to be expanded, and several options were made available. By the end of the system's life cycle almost anyone with minimal soldering experience was able to realize the modification of the console. Such a modification allowed the playing of games from other regions, such as PAL titles on an NTSC console, or allowed the ability to play copies of original games without restriction. Modchips allow the playing of games recorded on a regular CD-R. This created a wave of games developed without official approval using free, unofficial tools, as well as the reproduction of original discs. With the introduction of such devices the console was very attractive to programmers and illegal copiers alike.
A previous theory was that anyone seeking to create copies of games that would work correctly faced several issues at the time, as the discs that were produced by Sony were designed to be difficult to copy — and impossible to copy on recordable media. Discs were manufactured with a black-colored plastic (transparent only to the infrared radiation used by CD-ROM lasers), and it was theorized that the PlayStation's drive was engineered to require these tinted discs. However, this has been easily disproven, as PlayStation CD-ROMs can be read by most CD drives, and the PlayStation will read most recordable CDs. Nonetheless, the discs were mastered with a specific wobble in the lead-in area. This wobble encodes a four-character sequence which is checked by the CD-ROM drive's controller chip. The drive will only accept the disc if the code is correct. This string varies depending on the region of the disk—"SCEI" for NTSC:J machines, "SCEA" for NTSC:U/C machines, "SCEE" for PAL machines and "SCEW" for the Net Yaroze.
Since the tracking pattern is pressed into the disc at the time of manufacture, this cannot be reproduced on a CD-R recorder. Some companies (notably Datel) did manage to produce discs that booted on unmodified retail units, but this required special equipment and can only be done with "pressed" discs. However, inexpensive modchips were created that simply injected the code to the appropriate connections to the controller chip, which provided an easy way of bypassing these measures. The other issue is that most PC drives used Mode 1 or Mode 2/Form 1 (2048 bytes/sector) and the PlayStation uses a mixed-mode format with most data in Mode 2/Form 1 and streaming audio/video data in Mode 2/Form 2, which most CD-R drives at the time could not handle well. Newer drives were able to correctly handle these variations.
The creation and mass-production of these inexpensive modchips, coupled with their ease of installation, marked the beginning of widespread console videogame copyright infringement. Also, CD burners were made available around this time. Prior to the PlayStation, the reproduction of copyrighted material for gaming consoles was restricted to either enthusiasts with exceptional technical ability, or others that had access to CD manufacturers. With this console, amateurs could replicate anything Sony was producing for a mere fraction of the MSRP.
A version of the PlayStation called the Net Yaroze was also produced. It was more expensive than the original PlayStation, colored black instead of the usual gray, and most importantly, came with tools and instructions that allowed a user to be able to program PlayStation games and applications without the need for a full developer suite, which cost many times the amount of a PlayStation and was only available to approved video game developers. Naturally, the Net Yaroze lacked many of the features the full developer suite provided. Programmers were also limited by the 2 MB of total game space that Net Yaroze allowed. The amount of space may seem small, but games like Ridge Racer ran entirely from the system RAM (except for the streamed music tracks). It was unique in that it was the only officially retailed PlayStation with no regional lockout; it would play games from any territory. It would not however play CD-R discs, so it was not possible to create self-booting Yaroze games without a modified PlayStation.
The PS one (also PSone), launched in 2000, is Sony's smaller, redesigned version of its PlayStation video game console. The PS one is considerably smaller than the original PlayStation (dimensions being 38 mm × 193 mm × 144 mm versus 45 mm × 260 mm × 185 mm). It was released on July 7, 2000, and went on to outsell all other consoles—including Sony's own brand-new PlayStation 2—throughout the remainder of the year. Sony also released a small LCD screen and an adaptor to power the unit for use in cars. The PS one is fully compatible with all PlayStation software. There were four differences between the "PS One" and the original.
The first was a cosmetic change to the console. The second was the home menu's Graphical User Interface. The third was an added protection against the use of modchips (by changing the internal layout and making previous-generation modchip devices unusable). The fourth is a lack of the original PlayStation's parallel and serial ports. The serial port allowed multiple consoles to be connected for multiplayer, connecting a console to debugging software, as well as third-party game enhancement devices such as the GameShark.
Summary of PlayStation modelsEdit
The last digit of the PlayStation model number denotes the region in which it was sold:
- 0 is Japan (Japanese boot ROM, NTSC:J region, NTSC Video, 100V PSU)
- 1 is USA/Canada (English boot ROM, NTSC:U/C region, NTSC Video, 110V PSU)
- 2 is Europe/PAL (English boot ROM, PAL region, PAL Video, 220V PSU)
- 3 is Asia (Japanese boot ROM, NTSC:J region, NTSC video, 220V PSU)
Sony's successor to the PlayStation is the PlayStation 2, which is backwards compatible with its predecessor in that it can play almost every PlayStation game. Unlike emulators that run on a PC, the PlayStation 2 actually contains the original PlayStation processor, allowing games to run exactly as they do on the PlayStation. For PlayStation 2 games this processor, called the IOP, is used for input and output (memory cards, DVD drive, network, and hard drive). Like its predecessor, the PlayStation 2 is based on hardware developed internally by Sony.
The third generation of the PlayStation known as the PlayStation 3 (abbreviated PS3), was launched on November 11, 2006 in Japan, November 17, 2006 in North America, and March 23, 2007 in Europe. The PlayStation 3 was initially backward compatible with all games that were originally made for the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, but due to the removal of the PlayStation 2 Emotion Engine Chip after the introduction of the 40 GB version, the capability to play PlayStation 2 discs is limited now to software emulation, and the capability to play original PlayStation games is still possible. While PS3 games are not region-locked, PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games still only play on a PS3 console from the same territory. The redesigned "Slim" form factor PS3 introduced in 2009 has had the ability to play PlayStation 2 games entirely removed, though it can still play games from the original PlayStation.
The PlayStation Portable (abbreviated PSP) is a handheld game console first released in late 2004. The PSP is capable of playing PlayStation games downloaded via Sony's online store, and can also play any PlayStation game by using the PlayStation 3's remote play feature while the disc in the PlayStation 3. Sony hopes to release nearly all PlayStation games on a gradual basis. It is also possible to convert original PlayStation disc images into executable binaries using freely available software. These games are then playable on PSPs that have been modified to run unsigned code.
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 utilize an optical disc format, it was the first success story, and ended up going head-to-head with the last major home console to rely on proprietary cartridges—the Nintendo 64.
Nintendo was very public about its skepticism toward using CDs and DVDs to store games, citing longer load times and durability issues. It was widely speculated that the company was even more concerned with copyright infringement, given its substantial reliance on licensing and exclusive titles for its revenue.
The increasing complexity of games (in content, graphics, and sound) pushed cartridges to their storage limits and this fact began to turn off third party developers. Also, CDs were appealing to publishers due to the fact that they could be produced at a significantly lower cost and offered more flexibility (it was easy to change production to meet demand).
Quality of constructionEdit
The first batch of PlayStations used a KSM-440AAM laser unit whose case and all movable parts were completely made out of plastic. Over time, friction caused the plastic tray to wear out—usually unevenly. The placement of the laser unit close to the power supply accelerated wear because of the additional heat, which made the plastic even more vulnerable to friction. Eventually, the tray would become so worn that the laser no longer pointed directly at the CD and games would no longer load. Sony eventually fixed the problem by making the tray out of die-cast metal and placing the laser unit farther away from the power supply on later models of the PlayStation. Some units, particularly the early 100x models, would be unable to play FMV or music correctly, resulting in skipping or freezing. In more extreme cases the PlayStation would only work correctly when turned onto its side or upside down.
- The PlayStation Museum, dedicated to preserving the history of the PlayStation, complete with retail and prototype game screenshots and information