PlayStation (often abbreviated PS, PSone or PS1, and informally as the PSX) is a 32-bit video game console of the fifth generation that was first released by Sony Computer Entertainment in December 1994.
The 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), a revised "PSP slim & lite", PSX (Japan only; a media center, DVR and DVD recorder based on the PS2), and PlayStation 3 (20GB, 40GB, 60GB, & 80GB). 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 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 disc 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 discs were a copyright infringement 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 signed, 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.
The SNES-CD was to be announced at the June 1991 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 decided that the contract was totally unacceptable and he secretly canceled all plans for the joint Nintendo-Sony SNES CD attachment. Instead of announcing a partnership between Sony and Nintendo, at 9 a.m. the day of the CES, Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln stepped onto the stage and revealed that Nintendo was now allied with Philips, and Nintendo was 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.
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. As a result, Nintendo filed 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 and, in October 1991, the first incarnation of the new Sony PlayStation was revealed. However, it is theorized that only 200 or so of these machines were ever produced.
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, Sony decided in early 1993 to begin 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 and the space between the names was removed.
Lasting over 11 years, the PlayStation enjoyed one of the longest production runs in the video game industry. On March 23, 2006, Sony announced the end of production.