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This Day in PlayStation History: PlayStation One Launch

Between PSN outages and Wednesday’s hardware showcase, it’s been a busy week in the Sony camp — for better or worse. The mid-generation console upgrade previously known as the Neo is now officially titled PS4 Pro, a 4K-capable device that has evoked feelings of amazement, wonder and, at times, genuine confusion.

That’s something PSLS staffers debated in our recent edition of Now Loading, but on this, September 9, our attention is drawn not to be future of the PlayStation brand, but the past. Cast your mind back to the year 1995, at a time when tamagotchis were all the rage and The French Prince of Bel-Air still reigned supreme on the small-screen. If that wasn’t enough nostalgia to get the neurons firing, September of ’95 marked the launch of the PlayStation One across both North America (September 9) and Europe (September 29).

Sic Parvis Magna

Completing the one-two punch of This Day in PlayStation History posts, let’s chronicle the hardware’s storied journey to launch, and why it remains to this day one of the most intriguing to ever surface from the video game industry.

The year is 1991. Nintendo, buoyed by the landmark success of the Super Nintendo (SNES), brokered a deal with Sony to develop a hardware accessory that would add CD capabilities to its flagship home console of the time. Part and parcel of said agreement also allowed Sony to develop its own hybrid system called the Play Station, which reared its head in the wild earlier this year and is considered by many to be one of, if not the coolest video game consoles never to release. 

Here’s a glimpse of that fabled prototype: 

nintendo playstation

But the story goes that licensing concerns would eventually go on to scupper the agreement and the hardware known as SNES-CD would write its name in the history books — a unicorn of the industry, if you will. Soon after the onset of cold feet, the Big N teed up another partnership with Philips that yielded a string of middling Nintendo-themed games for the wholly abysmal CD-i platform instead of the SNES-CD. 

It didn’t take long for Nintendo to scrap plans altogether and shift resources over to what would become the N64. Sony, meanwhile, had other plans. By ’94, the platform-holder formally launched the PlayStation 1 in Japan, before expanding worldwide the following year and laying the groundwork for the next great console war. 

Bad Blood

Fast forward to now and sales for the PSOne are simmering around 102.49 million units across the globe. A stellar number that effectively birthed the PlayStation ecosystem we know and love today.

Since its somewhat confusing launch back in ’96 — confusing, at least, to the people behind the scenes — the PlayStation has gone on to blaze a legacy of its own, blowing past all expectations before the turn of the millennium. Indeed the fact that its successor remains the highest-selling console in history is a testimony to this trailblazing momentum, a streak that may have dipped slightly during the PS3 era only to emerge guns blazing in time for PlayStation 4. 

In casting your mind back to the inception of the PlayStation brand, though, what are your fondest memories? Plus, as the advent of new PlayStation hardware draws near — between PS4 Slim, PSVR and the Pro, Sony is poised to launch three brand new devices in as many months — are you excited for the imminent expansion of the PlayStation ecosystem? I’ll see you in the comments. 

This Day in PlayStation History is a new and recurring feature here on PlayStation LifeStyle that will be acting as your window into the archives of all things PlayStation — birthdays, anniversaries, milestones and more.