In the early nineties, the console market was rising to prominence. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and Sega Mega Drive were popular but were largely dismissed as kid’s toys because they featured tiny red and green plumbers and spiky blue hedgehogs. However, that all changed with with the launch of the Sony PlayStation, which featured three-dimensional gameplay and gave millions their first taste of 32-bit gaming.
The original PlayStation was a big risk for Sony. It had never developed a computer game, let alone a complete system. In 1991, the company was reeling from a failed partnership with Nintendo — which would have resulted in it supplying CD-ROM technology for the popular SNES — so it decided to go it alone.
Back then, console makers like Nintendo, SEGA and Atari would develop their own titles in order to showcase what their platforms could do. Sony didn’t have its own game development studio, but it did promise powerful new features and flexibility for developers thanks to its disc-based architecture. With the chance to render 3D worlds and deliver stereo CD-quality sound, games studios jumped on board and the rest, as they say, was history.
In this episode of Tech Hunters, Julia Hardy traces the history of the console that made gaming the massive industry it is today and takes a look at giving the trailblazing system a modern makeover.