As incredible as this sounds, PlayStation is 20 years old today in America. (It hit Japan back in December 1994). My first encounter with the original PlayStation wasn’t on launch day, but rather, the machine’s first Christmas. It was nearly a total disaster, too, with two kids on the verge of tears for hours.
I was 9-years-old at the time. For years, I’d convinced my brother to “combine” gifts so our parents could buy something more expensive. This was my backdoor channel into getting more game consoles, as my 7-year-old brother was, for the moment, interested in whatever his brother was interested in. (This did not last.) My latest gambit involved us getting a PlayStation.
It’s hard for me to remember what games I used to illustrate why this was a really, really good idea for him. Maybe it was a better version of Mortal Kombat, since Mortal Kombat 3 had come out in arcades earlier that year, and PlayStation was promised to get the best version of the game—exclusively.
Whatever the case, when we traveled to grandma’s that December, there weren’t many presents underneath the tree. Our younger cousins had seemingly hundreds of wrapped goodies, but there were only a handful for the two of us.
The PlayStation was unwrapped, surprise was feigned, and excitement set in. We couldn’t wait to play NFL GameDay and Warhawk—both damn good games for their time—but as we took everything out of the box, panic began to set in.
What we didn’t anticipate was how old my grandma’s TV was. See, not all TVs back then had the ability to accept AV inputs (aka those red, yellow, and white cords), which meant purchasing an RF adaptor to convert the signal into something that could be screwed into the same spot where your cable would go.
My parents didn’t realize this, so they didn’t buy an RF adaptor for the PlayStation. Thus, this expensive gift was basically useless—there was no way to play it. It being Christmas and all, everything was closed, so it wasn’t like you could run down to the local Radio Shack and hope the cable was still in stock.
We both started to get upset, and my parents felt awful. Hours were spent calling different stores, hoping one would be open long enough to beg for a solution. I believe my dad actually ended up leaving the house, driving around, hoping to stumble upon something down the street. But there was nothing.
Then, as I was futzing around with my grandma’s TV, inspiration struck. While we didn’t have an RF adaptor made for the PlayStation, she did have a VCR that connected to the TV that way. What did this VCR also happen to have? AV inputs! It was common for people to use VCRs to relay various video signals to their TVs back then, and it became clear we could do that with the PlayStation.
And lo, the PlayStation came alive. Christmas was saved!
I can’t be the only one with strong memories here. Christmas or launch day, what do you remember about the early days of the original PlayStation?