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Sony's PlayStation was released in Japan on December 3, 1994. The PlayStation was the eventual result of a breakdown of a business partnership plan between Sony and Nintendo to create a CD add-on for the SNES. Nintendo changed the deal and went to Philips; however, with the project nearing completion, Sony took what they had and marketed it off as a Sony-branded console. The PlayStation spawned a whole lineup of consoles from generation to generation and has earned Sony great respect as a video game company, becoming the first video game system to sell over 100 million consoles. Sony released a redesigned, smaller version of the PlayStation entitled the 'PSone' released July 7, 2000.

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.

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.

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.

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