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About The Microsoft Xbox
The original Xbox by Microsoft was first released in November 2001. It directly competed with Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube as part of the sixth generation of consoles.
The Xbox’s history began when a team of engineers began a project to build a Windows-orientated games console to compete with Sony’s latest console, the PlayStation 2. The Xbox name derives straight from ‘DirectX’, the Windows API which assists developers to handle multimedia tasks in development. The project became known as the ‘DirectX Box’.
With its Windows PC-based roots, the Xbox’s hardware had more in common with your average PC than the consoles of the time. The inclusion of a built-in hard drive meant users did not have to contend with memory cards as with the PS2 and GameCube. Memory cards could actually be used with the port in the Xbox controller, but this was mainly intended for portable storage so you could transfer saved game data between consoles. This larger storage medium also meant things such as audio CDs could be ripped to the hard drive and the music used in games. The Xbox could also play DVDs, but not out of the box. An additional DVD IR remote was required to ‘unlock’ this feature of the console.
The Xbox controller was quite unusual in being extremely large, especially compared to the likes of the PlayStation’s controllers. The first revision controller, and the largest, eventually became known as the ‘Duke’. A smaller version of the controller, known as the ‘Xbox controller S’ was released in 2002 and became the standard in-pack controller with the Xbox.
Significantly, the Xbox can lay claim to popularising online console gaming with its Xbox Live service. Launched in 2002, Xbox Live was only functional with a broadband connection. This is where the integrated ethernet port on the Xbox proved to be a huge advantage. By 2004, Xbox Live had over 1 million users, doubling to around 2 million in 2005. By comparison, the PS2 and GameCube also had broadband adapters for their consoles enabling online play, but the popularity of these services was limited then.
Sales performance of the Xbox totaled around 24 million worldwide, whereas the PlayStation 2 sold c. 160 million units worldwide. The Nintendo GameCube sold similarly at around 22 million. But the Xbox debut certainly provided very solid foundations for its successor, the Xbox 360.
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of Retro Gaming experience. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).