Sony’s PlayStation console line is over 20 years old. The first PlayStation was released in Japan on 3 December 1994 and pretty much changed the games industry for good. In the interim years, it has seen off Sega, the console manufacturer battling Nintendo at the time, and even returned to its position of number one in the games industry when the PS4 broke sales records a few years back.
But the journey is equally as interesting as the games we all play on our shiny PlayStation console these days. Indeed, the PlayStation released 20 years ago wasn’t even going to be the company’s bow into the games console market. It had unveiled a Play Station machine three years earlier – one that played both Super Nintendo cartridge games and SNES-CD titles it had planned in association with now rival Nintendo.
That relationship fell foul at the first hurdle and the gaming world is all the better for it. Sony’s PlayStation console was a shot in the arm of a niche games market. When it was released more universally, in 1995, it brought with it a new attitude for gaming. It was no longer perceived as just for kids. Games such as Wipeout employed dance music acts for a score that matched the new target audience. Consoles were installed in clubs for a new generation of ravers. And as the first machine played CDs too, it became a music hub for many.
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Sony had changed everything about gaming, a legacy that still resonates today. Its game consoles were even major driving forces behind DVD and Blu-ray uptake for video playback. So join us as we take a pictoral stroll through the last 20 years of PlayStation consoles and some of the accessories that we remember so fondly.
Also, we might have missed something obscure that you remember, so let us know your favourite PlayStation memory in the comments below…
The Play Station (1991)
Sony’s first attempt at a PlayStation console appeared in 1991 and featured a CD drive but played SNES games. It originally started life as a joint project between Nintendo and Sony that came about in order to create a CD-ROM for the Super NES. Before anything could hit the market though, Nintendo broke the deal and opted to go with Philips technology instead. It is thought that this enraged the Sony President who then set about instructing his team to create the PlayStation to rival Nintendo and that’s how the PlayStation console was born.
The original PlayStation (1994)
The actual first PlayStation was released in Japan on 3 December 1994. It was part of the fifth generation of video game consoles in the heyday of console gaming and the new era. The original PlayStation reached the market in time to compete with the Sega Saturn and the Nintendo 64. It would quickly go on to be the best selling console of that time too, going on to be the first video game console to sell 120 million units. The Sony PlayStation would certainly change gaming forever if nothing else.
The PlayStation mouse (1994)
In terms of accessories, the PlayStation Mouse – released in Japan in 1994 – became the one most likely to end up at the back of a drawer.
The PS One (2000)
The PS One came in 2000 as a cheaper alternative to the just-released PlayStation 2. It was essentially a smaller, redesigned version of the original console that included both design tweaks and a new menu. The updated PS One actually performed surprisingly well and even went on to not only outsell the original console but also the PlayStation 2 as well.
PlayStation 2 (2000)
The first PlayStation 2 was released in Japan in March 2000. It was a big old beast but effectively killed Sega’s console ambitions, forcing the rival to make its Dreamcast its last machine. The second proper PlayStation proved even more popular than the last, perhaps partly aided by the backwards compatibility with original PlayStation games.
The PS2 was also a record-breaker. It was the fastest console to sell 100 million units and reached that title within a little over five years from first launching. By the end of 2012, it had sold over 155 million worldwide.
PlayStation 2 (2000)
As well as being one of the best selling consoles of all time, the PS2 was the first console to embrace multiple colour options. It was also credited as being a major driving force behind the take up of DVD as a movie medium.
PlayStation 2 Hard Disk Drive (2001)
Remarkably, the PS2 had its own hard drive as an optional accessory. The 40GB drive plugged into the expansion bay of the original machine and could be used to install games onto to speed up loading times.
PlayStation X (2003)
The PSX – or PlayStation X – was only ever released in Japan. It featured a PS2 inside but was also a digital video recorder, able to burn video onto DVD-RW and DVD-RAM discs. It was designed by Sony to be a general-purpose video device – an all-singing, all-dancing machine, but high costs of the PlayStation X made it undesirable and poor sales quickly turned the PSX into a failure.
Interestingly, the PlayStation X was the first device to use Sony’s XrossMediaBar (XMB) graphical user interface, something that would later appear in the PlayStation 3 and Bravia televisions a few years later.
PlayStation 2 Slimline (2004)
The first slimline revision of the PlayStation 2 arrived towards the end of 2004. As the name suggested, the PS2 Slimline was smaller, thinner and quieter than the first version. It was also improved with the addition of an ethernet port.
Singstar was a competitive music game for PlayStation consoles that also came with accessories for the PS2 – two wired microphones. They also went wireless for the PS3 version and all can still be used on the PS4 today.
PlayStation Portable (2004)
At the same time that Sony was slimlining its PS2, the company revealed the first handheld console, the PlayStation Portable. It received rave reviews but many wondered about the reliance on a proprietary disc format, UMD.
The PSP was the company’s first handheld games console and its attempt to compete with the Nintendo DS. It was immediately familiar to Sony fans and had a similar control layout to the standard PlayStation controller in terms of button layout.
One of our favourite PS2 games was Buzz, which came with its own buzzer controllers for four people. There were wireless versions too for the PS3.
PlayStation 3 concept (2006)
The first time anybody saw the PlayStation 3 it was in official concept art released by Sony. A wave of shock descended upon the industry as the conventional DualShock controller was seemingly replaced by a boomerang.
PlayStation 3 (2006)
Sony ditched the controller design that had been heavily criticised, but stuck with the “pregnant” design of the console itself on its Japanese unveiling.
The first PlayStation 3s were released with backwards compatibility and 20GB and 60GB hard drives in 2006. However, Sony soon saw the need to ditch the hardware and software emulation for PS2 titles. However, if it wasn’t for the PS3, HD-DVD rather than Blu-ray might have become the more popular HD disc standard.
The PS3 was a hit right from the start, with an estimated 81,639 units selling in the first 24 hours of the console being released in Japan. It then went on to sell 600,000 units in just two days of going on sale in the rest of the world. All this despite being compared to a George Foreman grill.
PSP 2000 (2007)
A slimmer PSP – the PSP 2000 – was released in 2007. The PSP 2000 was a major upgrade to this handheld console and like the other slim devices in Sony’s console line-up, the slimmer model was lighter, thinner and faster. It also had the ability to output to televisions and had a USB charging mode too.
PlayStation Eye (2007)
The PlayStation Eye was a camera, that was essentially a webcam and worked to track players and allow gamers to play games that used motion control and colour detection too. We just found it fell over a lot.
PlayStation 2 Slimline v2 (2008)
A few years later, Sony released another version of the Slimline that was even lighter. This slimmer version of the PS2 was released before the console was officially discontinued. However, that was remarkably not until January 2013.
PSP 3000 (2008)
Another PSP – the PSP 3000 – followed in 2008. The PSP 3000 had a few more upgrades that included an improved screen, a built-in microphone and the ability to output to other televisions that the previous models could not.
PlayStation 3 Slim (2009)
Sony kept up the trend of releasing slimmed-down models of its console by releasing the PS3 slim in 2009. This trimmed down version was smaller, lighter, quieter, cooler and used less power too. The first slim models also greatly expanded the amount of space available to store downloaded games. At maximum it had 320GB. It went on sale in September 2009 and sold over a million units before the first month had even passed.
PSP Go (2009)
Strangely, the next PSP console ditched the UMD drive to play games on disc and prompted gamers to download titles instead. As standard, it had 16GB of internal storage for games, videos and other files. You could also use an M2 flash drive to add an extra 32GB of space if you needed it. The PSP Go was sold alongside the PSP 3000 and not intended to replace it.
PlayStation Move (2010)
The PlayStation Move controller was Sony’s answer to the Xbox Kinect but never really took off. It was originally released for the PS3 but later also used in the PS4 and even for PlayStation VR. The system used PlayStation Eye or PlayStation Camera to track the wand’s movement in your room as you gamed.
PSP E1000 (2011)
A last PSP – the E1000 – brought back the UMD format in 2011. It was cheap and cheerful, mainly because it didn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity and had only one speaker instead of two stereo speakers.
PlayStation 3 Super Slim (2012)
Not content with the Slim, Sony also released a “Super Slim” version in 2012, an incredible six years after the original console launched. The storage size expanded even further with the second PS3 slim model and it also adopted a top-loading Blu-ray deck.
PlayStation Vita (2011/2012)
The first, beefier PS Vita was released in Japan in time for Christmas 2011 and its front and rear touch panels excited at the time. It then released a few months later in the US in 2012. The original PS Vita had a 5-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and even a 3G option. It was designed to capitalise on the rising interest in mobile gaming though it is thought to have struggled to compete well during that time.
PlayStation 3 remote (2012)
The PlayStation 3 was more than just a games machine, it was also seen as a media hub, what with the built-in Blu-ray player and access to the web. The release of a remote control to go along with that functionality made a lot of sense. The company also went on to release a remote for the PS4 a few years later.
PlayStation 4 (2013)
Unbelievably, the PlayStation 4 was released way back in 2013. It was seen as part of the eighth-generation of games consoles and a competitor of Microsoft’s Xbox One and Nintendo’s Wii U. The new console bought several design enhancements including not only more processing power, but also things like support for HDR10 video and 4K resolution playback.
The PS4 was highly thought of (and still is) and included many enhancements that gamers loved, including the ability to do things like play games off-console on PlayStation Vita. It’s no surprise that the PS4 managed to sell 100 million units since its launch.
White PlayStation 4 (2013)
Shortly after the PS4 was released, a white version became available too. It was included in a bundle with Destiny originally and a great alternate option.
DualShock 4 controllers (2013)
The DualShock 4 was the first major leap for Sony’s gamepad since near the beginning, with its touch panel and LED lighting. Shame about the battery life.
PlayStation camera (2013)
The PS4 camera is a smarter affair than the original for the PS3. Perhaps smarter still was Sony’s decision not to bundle it with the console and therefore charge less. The PlayStation Camera has two 1280×800 pixel cameras with a 30 cm focusing distance, and an 85-degree field of view. This system was used for a number of games and required for use with the PlayStation VR headset.
Sony claimed that 900,000 PlayStation Camera were sold alongside the PS4 in 2014.
PS Vita (PCH-2000) (2013)
The PS Vita didn’t really take off until the PS4 and Remote Play entered the scene. The redesigned, slimmer and lighter PS Vita also had better battery life, 1GB of internal storage and a variety of colours to choose from.
PlayStation TV (2013)
The most recent addition to the PlayStation family is the PS TV (PS Vita TV in Japan). It is essentially a Vita that you plug into your telly. It was a small set-top-box based on Sony’s portable gaming device that gave users access to compatible Vita, PSOne and PSP games through the PlayStation Store or an included game card slot. The PlayStation TV is also capable of remotely streaming PlayStation 4 content too, which is nifty.
Sony PlayStation VR (2016)
PlayStation VR was released in 2016 and was perhaps one of the most affordable and accessible VR headsets available at the time. It features a 5.7-inch 1920×1080 resolution OLED display capable of 120 Hz refresh rate and can even duplicate its display to the TV.
We found the PSVR was far from perfect, but still a fun bit of kit and the only real VR device for console users at the time.
Sony PlayStation 5 (2020?)
It’s thought that the Sony PlayStation 5 will launch at some time in 2020. It’s thought that the PS5 will have some beefy specs including an eight-core CPU based on AMD’s 7nm processor, a GPU based on AMD’s Radeon Navi microarchitecture and even support for ray-tracing. There have been bold claims including that the PS5 will be able to run games at 4K, 120Hz and even capable of reaching 8K as well. Find out more about what we know so far here.
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