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The PlayStation console - A brief history

On PlayStation's 15th birthday, we charter the life of Sony's baby...

Regardless of where your allegiances lie, it's hard to deny the impact that Sony's PlayStation console - in all its forms - has had on the gaming world.

The firm's latest hardware monster, PlayStation 3, is now refining the living room - turning our once elementary lounges into 3D-capable, Blu-ray projecting, multi-entertainment hubs.

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But it's easy to forget that it's been a long journey for Sony to reach such an integral position in gamers' daily lives. To many of us, after all, the firm was once just 'the Walkman company'.

Here, we look back at the various PlayStation consoles, reflecting on their strengths, weaknesses - and the highlights they brought us along the way.

PlayStation (1994)
The genesis of the PlayStation can actually be traced back to Nintendo, and its efforts to integrate disc-based technology into gaming hardware.

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News of a Sony and Philips-developed CD-ROM/XA spurred Nintendo into commissioning Sony to develop an add-on that would allow the SNES to benefit from CD technology.

After plans fell apart, Sony chose to use the technology they developed for Nintendo in their own grey beast - and in 1994, the PlayStation was born.

Until the arrival of the PlayStation, cartridges were the norm - and their reign over the video game industry was never challenged nor questioned.

Sony's first PlayStation console boldly adopted the unproven CD technology instead. The naysayers were soon silenced - as the benefits became impossible to ignore.

The legacy of the PlayStation consoles and the incredible impact they have had can be attributed to Sony's desire and insistence on pioneering new mediums - and CD adoption with PSOne was the starting point.

The CD provided significant increases to storage space, allowing better video and sound production. This, combined with a marketing push aimed squarely at the 'laddier' young adult male audience - keen on lager, ladettes and Loaded - meant Sony had a smash hit on its hands.

The popularity and affordability of the new CD medium was a double-edged sword, however; it played a big part in one of the first PlayStation's biggest issues - piracy.

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Piracy has become as much a part of the PlayStation console legacy as God Of War or Metal Gear Solid.

Since modifying the PlayStation console was so easy, even those with basic computer familiarity could pirate software - and a whole shady new business was opened up to dodgy mid-'90s 'entrepreneurs'.

Mod-chips could be installed effortlessly by someone with basic soldering abilities. The affordability of CD-burning hardware for computers further increased piracy, since people could now buy CDs in bulk and either copy or download and burn dozens of games for a fraction of their retail price.

When all is said and done, however, it was the games on Sony's first PlayStation console that set the brand up to take over the world.

Existing franchises such as Final Fantasy, Grand Theft Auto and Metal Gear thrived off the technical superiority of the hardware, with Square-Enix's use of fully rendered characters and pre-rendered backgrounds in Final Fantasy VII (1997) giving us one of the most important industry innovations of all time.

New lasting franchises such as Resident Evil (1996), Twisted Metal(1995) and Gran Turismo (1997) also got their start on the original PlayStation console.

PS2 (2000)
The original PlayStation console was an incredibly hard act to follow; the console established a dedicated fanbase and won the hearts of top notch developers and publishers.

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