The PlayStation is a 32-bit video game console of the fifth generation. It was first released by Sony Computer Entertainment in December 1994.

The original PlayStation was the first of the ubiquitous PlayStation series of console and hand-held game devices, which has included successor consoles and upgrades including the Net Yaroze (a special black PS with tools and instructions to program PS games and applications), PS one (a smaller version of the original), PocketStation (a handheld which enhances PS games and acts as a memory card), PlayStation 2, a revised, slimline PS2, PlayStation Portable (a handheld gaming console), PSX (Japan only) (a media center, DVR and DVD recorder based on the PS2), and PlayStation 3. By March 31, 2005, the PlayStation and PS one had shipped a combined total of 102.49 million units,becoming the first video game console to ever reach the 100 million mark.


According to the book "Game Over", by David Scheff, the first conceptions of the PlayStation date back to 1986. Nintendo had been attempting to work with disk technology since the Famicom, but the medium had problems. Its rewritable magnetic nature could be easily erased (thus leading to a lack of durability), and the disks were a piracy danger. Consequently, when details of CDROM/XA (an extension of the CD-ROM format that combines compressed audio, visual and computer data, allowing all to be accessed simultaneously) came out, Nintendo was interested. CD-ROM/XA was being simultaneously developed by Sony and Phillips. Nintendo approached Sony to develop a CD-ROM add-on, tentatively titled the "SNES-CD". A contract was struck, 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 PlayStation", was the individual who had sold Nintendo on using the Sony SPC-700 processor for use as the eight-channel ADPCM sound synthesis set in the Super Famicom/SNES console through an impressive demonstration of the processor's capabilities.

Sony also planned to develop another, Nintendo 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.

In 1989, the SNES-CD was to be announced at the June 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 was furious; deeming the contract totally unacceptable, he secretly canceled all plans for the joint Nintendo-Sony SNES CD attachment. Indeed, instead of announcing their partnership, at 9 a.m. the day of the CES, Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln stepped onto the stage and revealed that they were now allied with Philips, and were planning on abandoning all the previous work Nintendo and Sony had accomplished. Lincoln and Minoru Arakawa had, unbeknown 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.

The 9 a.m. CES announcement was a complete shock. Not only was it a complete surprise to the show goers (Sony had only just the previous night been optimistically showing off the joint project under the "Play Station" brand), but it was seen by many in the Japanese business community as a massive betrayal: a Japanese company snubbing another Japan-based company in favor of a European one was considered absolutely unthinkable in Japanese business.

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. This led to Nintendo filing a lawsuit claiming breach of contract and attempted, in U.S. 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. Thus, in October 1991, the first incarnation of the new Sony PlayStation was revealed; it is theorized that only 200 or so of these machines were ever produced.

PlayStation Memory Card:

By the end of 1992, Sony and Nintendo reached a deal whereby the "Sony 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, at this point, Sony realized that the SNES technology was getting long in the tooth, and the next generation of console gaming was around the corner: work began in early 1993 on 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, the space between the names was removed, and the PlayStation was born.


The PlayStation was launched in Japan on December 3, 1994, the United States on September 9, 1995, Europe on September 29, 1995, and Asia-Pacific in November 1995. In America, Sony enjoyed a very successful launch with titles of almost every genre including Battle Arena Toshinden, Twisted Metal, Warhawk, Philosoma, and Ridge Racer. Almost all of Sony's and Namco's launch titles went on to produce numerous sequels.

The launch price in the American market was US$299.00, a price point later used by its successor, the PlayStation 2.

The PlayStation was also able to generate interest with a unique series of advertising campaigns. Many of the ads released at the time of launch were full of ambiguous content which had many gamers rabidly debating their meanings. The most well-known launch ads include the "Enos Lives" campaign, and the "U R Not e" ads (the "e" in "U R Not e" was always colored in red, to symbolize the word "ready", and the "Enos" meant "ready Ninth Of September", the U.S. launch date). The Enos ad could also be read as Sony written backward with phonetic sound of "E" replacing the "y". It is believed that these ads were an attempt to play off the gaming public's suspicion towards Sony as an unknown, untested entity in the video game market. The PlayStation 3 slogan, "PLAY B3YOND", resembles this slogan, as the 3 is red.

The PlayStation logo was designed by Manabu Sakamoto, who also designed the logo for Sony's VAIO computer products.


Well known titles on the PlayStation include Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy VII, Gran Turismo, Grand Theft Auto, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver , Metal Gear Solid, Parasite Eve, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Spyro The Dragon, Tekken, Tomb Raider, Twisted Metal, and Wipeout. The very last game for the system was FIFA Football 2005. As of May 18, 2004, Sony has shipped 100 million PlayStation and PS one consoles throughout the world. As of March 2007, 7,915 software titles have been released worldwide (counting games released in multiple regions as separate titles) with cumulative software shipment of 962 million units.The last German release for the Playstation was 7 Shoot Games published by Phoenix, developed by Naps in 2005, and the last releases in the United States and Japan were FIFA Soccer 2005 in 2004 and Black Matrix Zero OO in 2004, respectively.

Production run:

Having lasted over 11 years, the PlayStation has enjoyed one of the longest production runs in the video game industry. On March 23, 2006, Sony announced the end of production.


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).

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 deleted, 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.

Sony then released a version dubbed "Dual Shock", which included a controller with 2 analog sticks and a built in force-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, you had to test your 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).

A white version 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 PSX could be treated exactly like any other NTSC:J PlayStation.

A number of these units appeared on the secondary market and were popular because they would run games from any region and CD-R copies, which tended to result them in commanding high prices. All the blue units tend to have CD problems, but the DTL-H110x units (with an external PSU block) are significantly more reliable than the original DTL-H100x ones.

"Chipped" consoles:

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 a 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 GNU compiler tools, as well as the reproduction of original discs. With the introduction of such devices the console was very attractive to programmers and pirates alike.

Individuals that insisted on creating 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 the CD-ROM drive's laser. This was found to offer little protection. Additionally, 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 the protection. The other issue is that most PC drives used Mode 1 or Mode 2/Form 1 (2048 bytes/sector) and the PSX uses a mixed-mode format with most data in Mode 2/Form 1 and streaming audio/video data in Mode 2/Form 2, which a lot 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 piracy. Coincidentally, CD-ROM 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.

Net Yaroze:

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. That means the entire game had to be crammed into the 2 MB of system RAM. The user couldn't officially make actual game discs. 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 Sony PlayStation with no regional lockout; it would play games from any territory.

PS one:

The PS one (also PSone, PSOne, or PS1), launched in 2000, is Sony's smaller (and redesigned) version of its PlayStation video game console. The PS one is about one-third smaller than the original PlayStation (38mm -- 193 mm -- 144 mm versus 45 mm -- 260 mm -- 185 mm). It was released in 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. The PlayStation is now officially abbreviated as the "PS1" or "PS one."

There were three differences between the "PS one" and the original, the first one being cosmetic change to the console, the second one was the home menu's Graphical User Interface, and the third being added protection against the mod-chip by changing the internal layout and making previous-generation mod-chip devices unusable. The PS one also lacks the original PlayStation's serial port, which allowed multiple consoles to be hooked up for multi-TV multiplayer. The serial port could also be used for an external mod-chip, which may have been why it was removed, although size-constraints may also be to blame.

Summary of PlayStation models:

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 (English boot ROM, NTSC:J region, NTSC video, 220V PSU)


The OK and Cancel buttons on most of the Japanese PlayStation's games are reversed in their American and European releases. In Japan, the Circle button (maru, right) is universally used as the OK button, while the Cross button (batsu, wrong) is used as the Cancel one. American and European releases have the Cross button as the OK button, while the Circle or the Triangle buttons are used as the Cancel ones.

However, a few games such as Squaresoft's Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy VII, and Final Fantasy Tactics, and Konami's Metal Gear Solid, have the buttons remain in the same Japanese configuration in their American and European releases. These Japanese button layouts still apply to newer PlayStation consoles, such as the PlayStation Portable (PSP), PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation 3. The PS1 with a model number of SCPH-1001 has been reported to be a very good sounding compact disc player rivaling audiophile CD players from high end audio manufacturers.


Sony's successor to the PlayStation is the PlayStation 2, which is backward compatible with its predecessor, in the sense that it can play almost every PlayStation game. This was done by embedding the most important parts of the PS one inside the PlayStation 2 design.

Unlike emulators that run on the 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 by Sony themselves.

The third generation of the PlayStation is known as the PlayStation 3, or PS3, and was launched on November 11, 2006 in Japan, November 17, 2006 in North America, and March 23, 2007 in Europe. The PlayStation 3 is backward compatible with nearly all games that were originally made for PlayStation 1. In PAL territories and later shipments in North America and Japan, however, the PlayStation 3 lacks some of the backwards compatibility hardware and so supports significantly fewer PlayStation 2 games.

However, the list of compatible games is being increased via software emulation. PS3 games will not be region-locked, but PlayStation 1 and 2 games still only play on a PS3 console from the same territory.

The PlayStation Portable (officially PSP) is a handheld game console first released in late 2004. Despite the name, it is not compatible with PlayStation games; it only runs games developed specifically for the PSP on the UMD format. Nevertheless, at the PlayStation Briefing conference on March 15, 2006 in Japan, Sony revealed plans for PlayStation 1 games to be downloaded and playable on the PSP through emulation. Sony hopes to release nearly all PlayStation 1 games on a gradual basis; however, as of late December 2006, a custom firmware release allows users to play PS1 image files converted into the PSP's EBOOT format.


The success of the PlayStation is widely thought to have had some influence on 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 piracy, given its substantial reliance on licensing and exclusive titles for its revenue.

However, the increasing complexity of games (in content, graphics, and sound) were pushing cartridges to their storage limits. This began to turn off third party developers. 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). In turn, they were able to pass the lower costs onto consumers. One major disadvantage of CDs was piracy, due to the advent of CD burners and mod chips. However, this ironically became a selling point of the PlayStation.Due to the success of Sony's PlayStation, high-quality sound and longer games are now top priorities for modern gamers, leaving little choice for competitors except to follow suit.

Advertisement controversy:

To celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the PlayStation in 2005, Sony Italy released an advertisement portraying a young man wearing a crown of thorns (the thorns being made of Triangle , Square , Circle and Cross symbols, the labels on the buttons of PlayStation controllers), on his head.

The ad was captioned with "Dieci anni di passione" (in English, this translates to "Ten years of passion"). The ad, assumed to be a takeoff of Mel Gibson's 2004 movie The Passion of the Christ, was met with outrage from the Vatican. Sony apologized and stopped displaying the ad.

Quality of construction:

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.

A common--but temporary--fix to the laser problem was to tip the PlayStation on its side. This made the tray "hang" perpendicular to the CD, allowing the PlayStation to read the disc. Unfortunately, friction would continue to wear down the plastic tray and, eventually, the PlayStation would not read the disc. 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 used upside down.

Technical specifications:

Central processing unit:

MIPS R3000A-compatible (R3051) 32bit RISC chip running at 33.8688 MHz
The chip is manufactured by LSI Logic Corp. with technology licensed from SGI. The chip also contains the Geometry Transformation Engine and the Data Decompression Engine.
Operating Performance of 30 MIPS
Bus Bandwidth 132 MB/s
Instruction Cache 4 KB
Data Cache 1 KB (non associative, just 1024 bytes of mapped fast SRAM)

Geometry transformation engine:

This engine is inside the main CPU chip. It gives it additional (vector-)math instructions used for the 3D graphics.


Operating performance of 66 MIPS
360,000 flat-shaded polygons per second
180,000 texture mapped and light-sourced polygons per second
Sony originally gave the polygon count as:
1.5 million flat-shaded polygons per second;
500,000 texture mapped and light-sourced polygons per second.
These figures were given as a ballpark figure for performance under optimal circumstances, and so are unrealistic under normal usage.

Data decompression engine:

This engine is also inside the main CPU. It is responsible for decompressing images and video. Documented device mode is to read three RLE-encoded 16--16 macroblocks, run IDCT and assemble a single 16--16 RGB macroblock. Output data may be transferred directly to GPU via DMA. It is possible to overwrite IDCT matrix and some additional parameters, however MDEC internal instruction set was never documented.

Compatible with MJPEG and H.261 files
Operating Performance of 80 MIPS
Directly connected to CPU Bus

Graphics processing unit:

This chip is separate to the CPU and handles all the 2D graphics processing, which includes the transformed 3D polygons.

Maximum of 16.7 million colors
Resolutions from 256--224 to 640--480
Adjustable frame buffer
Unlimited color lookup tables
Maximum of 24-bit color depth
Maximum of 4000 8--8 pixel sprites with individual scaling and rotation
Emulation of simultaneous backgrounds (for parallax scrolling)
Flat or Gouraud shading, and texture mapping

Sound processing unit:


Can handle ADPCM sources with up to 24 channels and up to 44.1 kHz sampling rate


Main RAM: 2 MB
Video RAM: 1 MB
Sound RAM: 512 KB
CD-ROM Buffer: 32 KB
Operating System ROM: 512 KB
PlayStation Memory Cards have 128 KB of space in an EEPROM

CD-ROM drive:


Double Speed, with a maximum data throughput of 300 kB/s
XA Mode 2 Compliant
CD-DA (CD-Digital Audio)

Hope you enjoyed the history of the playstation from yester years till now. Starlight!

More PlayStation 3 News...