Picture the scene. Nintendo and Sega are battling it out in the 16-bit arena, their two consoles (the Mega Drive and SNES) holding virtually equal marketshare. Nintendo contact you to develop them a CD-ROM drive to attach to the SNES, to try and beat Sega's new Mega-CD (a.k.a. Sega CD) add-on. Suddenly you get double-crossed - Nintendo dump you to go with another company. What to do?

Sony faced this same problem. After working with Nintendo on a CD-ROM drive for the SNES they found themselves on the sidelined, all their work put to waste. Sony decided to get their own back, take the work they'd produced and go it alone - make a console to trounce both Nintendo AND Sega. That machine became the PlayStation, which would go on to define the latter half of the 90's and claim the number 1 spot for itself.

The PlayStation (or PSX, as it was originally codenamed - that name now belongs to another machine in Sony's line-up) is a 32-bit, CD-ROM based console, and was Sony's first entry into a market they came to dominate. Released in Japan in December 1994, the rest of the world September 1995, it was able to produce fully 3D graphics, CD-quality sound, and soon found itself with a massive library of games as eagar developers signed up to join the bandwagon. After being redesigned into a smaller unit, the PSone (as it is now known) still hasn't been retired.

The original PlayStation was a low-key grey affair, with a top-loading CD-ROM drive, two controller ports on the front, and memory card slots above. On the top of the console are power and reset buttons, as well as one to open the CD drive. On the back were a number of ports, some of whch have disappeared in later revisions - most notably the serial port, into which several (unofficial) peripherals could connect.

This was all changed with the PlayStation 2's release. With a new console taking priority, Sony redesigned the PlayStation, renaming it the 'PSone', and releasing it in a reduced form factor. With a lower price, and still a huge library of games to choose from, it currently serves as Sony's budget console.

The original PlayStation...
...and its redesigned brother


Technical Specifications
CPU: A 32-bit RISC CPU (an R3000A-compatible) running at 33.8688MHz.
Main RAM: 2 Megabytes
Video RAM: 1 Megabyte
Sound RAM: 512 Kilobytes
Screen resolution: The PlayStation can handle 256x224 to 640x480.
Maximum colours: Up to 16.7million colours.
Maximum sprites: Up to 4,000 8x8pixel sprites.
Maximum polygons: 360,000 flat, shaded, polygons/second/180,000 texture mapped, Gouraud shaded polygons/second.