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RETRO REPLAY ► Original Microsoft Xbox is Ten Years Old Today!

The Gadget Helpline: RETRO REPLAY feature will bring you a weekly throwback to the days of old school gaming and will present a little history on the new wave of classic titles currently getting a revival on our modern gaming gadgets.

However.. Today we’re doing things a little differently!

Computer software co. Microsoft’s first venture into the dedicated gaming console market – the original Xbox – arrived ten years ago today, on 15th November 2001. Firstly in Northern America, the sixth generation console bested Sony’s dated Playstation, was playable online and set the bar for ‘serious’ successor consoles the Playstation 2, with which it battled for supremacy in the early 2000s, until its own successor the Xbox 360 surfaced in 2005 – to change the game once again. In this special Retro Replay feature we’ll take a look back at the early days of Xbox.

Console: Xbox
Manufacturer: Microsoft
Years in Production: 2001 – 2006
First Game Released: Halo – Combat Evolved (2001)
Last Game Released: Madden NFL ’09 (2008)

Originally a concept between Microsoft’s Direct X engineering team in 1998, who had big ideas for a gaming console running from the multimedia interface programming software, the first Xbox was birthed. The console prototype was constructed from parts of Dell laptops and presented to Microsoft’s Head of Games Publishing who approved and supported the gadget and so the Direct X console began its production. After a series of rejected monikers, the console finally got its name from its running system (Direct X Box, get it?) – However it’s said that Microsoft was never fully happy with the final choice of title!

Around the time, once strong gaming presence SEGA was struggling to keep a float itself in the console market with its current project the Dreamcast and Microsoft enlisted the veteran company’s services in porting Windows operating system components which would benefit the new Xbox. Intel provided Xbox with its 32-bit 733X Pentium III Coppermine-based processor and Nvidia chip tech, along with Dolby Interactive Content-Encoding were incorporated to provide the soaring sounds and exciting explosions, not only in ‘cut-scene’ video but also during game play – this had never been used in a games system before. The Xbox also featured a DVD-ROM which was a cause of some distress as faults arising in the console’s teething period. The system’s controller also received its share of criticism for being bulky and heavy (this was remedied shortly after the console’s public launch with the release of a more compact unit).

After much delay throughout 1999, with postponement announcements by CEO Bill Gates, the Xbox finally became ready for its first public showing in 2000 at the Game Developers Conference. The Xbox wowed the crowd with its combination of slick graphics (an impressive 480p!), supported by Microsoft computer wares. At the same time, Sony was prepping its second console, the Playstation 2, readying for launch as well.

The Xbox console’s first title was in partnership with developer Bungie called Halo: Combat Evolved – which spawned into an exclusive franchise for Microsoft’s console which is still today a mainstay in the gaming arsenal, appearing on the successor Xbox 360 system. Follow-up Halo 2 – which was released in 2004 – was actually the console’s best selling title, earning $125 million in just one day. Other early titles included Project Gotham Racing and Dead or Alive 3.

On this day ten years ago, the Xbox sold out in the States and up until it’s discontinuation in 2006 the console had shifted 24 million units worldwide. The Xbox was succeeded in May 2005 by the Xbox 360 (the once-hated name prevailed once more!) and recent rumours suggest that a next evolution of Microsoft’s console will come in 2012 with the ‘Xbox 720’.

Watch the 2001 unveiling of the original Xbox – which features The Rock!

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The Gadget Helpline’s Retro Replay feature takes a weekly nostalgia trip to look at some classic titles ahead of their exciting reboots and revivals on the new wave of next gen consoles. Last time we took a look back at classic SEGA Master System fighter Shinobi ahead of the kick-ass return on Nintendo 3DS!

Be sure to read the Gadget Helpline’s Gaming Weekly – We’ve got the latest news bytes and a unique commentary on events in the gaming world – right here!

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