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  • - Hey guys, this is Austin

  • and welcome to the ultimate Xbox comparison.

  • - When I started here back in 2000,

  • the most recent console that we were all playing

  • was Dreamcast, we got it on 9/9/99.

  • In many ways, that was there's a lot of special spiritual

  • connections between the Dreamcast and original Xbox.

  • You know, it ran actually Windows CE as an operating system.

  • We had partnered with a lot of the folks at Sega

  • to bring a lot of that content also to Xbox

  • and we were learning a lot from them.

  • - [Distorted Voice] Its thinking.

  • - The Sega Dreamcast was the first time

  • that a version of Windows was found on a home console.

  • The inclusion of Windows CE meant that developers

  • had options for much more advanced

  • development tools from the PC such as DirectX.

  • The problem here was the Sega

  • had their own custom development tool

  • which in a lot of ways actually made it much simpler

  • for developers to take advantage of the limited resources

  • that were available on the Dreamcast.

  • The titles that did take advantage

  • of Windows CE were pretty cool though.

  • We're talking Tomb Raider,

  • the original Rainbow Six as well as Resident Evil II.

  • The Dreamcast didn't exactly set the world on fire,

  • however, it did plant the seed of an idea over Microsoft

  • to start their own console business.

  • Despite having high profile PC exclusives

  • such as Age of Empires as well

  • as Microsoft Flight Simulator,

  • Bill Gates was nervous about the upcoming success

  • or potential success rather of the Sony PlayStation 2.

  • (upbeat music)

  • When Seamus Blackley, a graphics programmer at Microsoft

  • approached gates about an idea for their own console,

  • it was very quickly greenlit.

  • Blackley led a small group of people at Microsoft in 1998

  • to start working on the Midway Project,

  • which fun fact was named after the Battle of Midway

  • with US decisively beat the Japanese, aka console wars.

  • - Well, there was a small group of folks

  • that have this like big idea that had worked

  • on DirectX technology on the PC side

  • and said, hey, what if we took this technology

  • and Microsoft had made a bunch of PC games,

  • so we took that technology and we built it

  • into a plug and play kind of appliance

  • like console for the living room.

  • And we felt like we had the tech,

  • we have the operating system capabilities,

  • we had the online networking capabilities,

  • we actually had game studio,

  • so we had a lot of the internal gradients to make it happen.

  • - Other PC tech including using an internal hard drive,

  • something that hadn't been done on consoles yet,

  • as well as taking advantage of an internet connection

  • which would work right out of the box.

  • In the end, Microsoft opted to load

  • the Xbox up with a custom version

  • of Windows 2000 for the operating system

  • as well as running DirectX for the actual games themselves.

  • Now the DirectX portion of this

  • actually is a pretty important point.

  • So not only did this have a ton of different names

  • when it was being developed,

  • but the most common one was the DirectX Box,

  • which of course was shortened to Xbox, a much cleaner name.

  • The Xbox was officially announced at GDC in March of 2000,

  • coincidentally about the same time

  • that the Sony PlayStation II went on sale in Japan.

  • With that console quickly looking to become a juggernaut,

  • there was a huge uphill battle for the Xbox to go.

  • I mean it's sure of course you know

  • it's Microsoft and it is huge company,

  • but its easy to forget not only just how difficult

  • and expensive it is to create a console,

  • but of course, how expensive it is to spend

  • all this marketing dollars and all this stuff

  • to get people on board to actually buy your brand new Xbox.

  • To combat this, Microsoft aggressively marketed

  • the Xbox in the run up to E3 of 2000.

  • Now at the show there they met a developer

  • which would end up completely

  • changing the future of the Xbox, it was Bungie.

  • And very quickly they purchased the studio for $30 million

  • and the Xbox had its killer app.

  • Now Bungie had been working on Halo since 1997

  • and it had a very, very long lifespan

  • to get to the point where it actually launched on the Xbox.

  • First of all it started out as a real time strategy game,

  • which then morphed into a third person shooter

  • and finally landed as a first person shooter,

  • which of course really kind of revolutionized the genre.

  • Now of course today Halo is synonymous with Xbox

  • but back in 1999, it was good old Steve Jobs at Macworld

  • who was showing off the brand new Bungie title Halo.

  • - This game is gonna ship early next year for Bungie

  • and this is the first time anybody has ever seen it,

  • its the first time they debut it,

  • and so I'm very happy to welcome on stage

  • Jason Jones, who is the co founder of Bungie

  • and the Halo Project lead, Halo's the name of the game,

  • and we're gonna see for the first time Halo.

  • - Halo was originally going to be a Mac title,

  • and in fact, it did actually ship on the Mac

  • but even though this version was a little bit rough,

  • you can still see a lot of similarities between this

  • and the final version was shipped on Xbox.

  • Bill Gates revealed the final Xbox design at CES in 2001

  • and he didn't do it alone,

  • he had a little bit of help from The Rock.

  • And no, not like The Rock as we know him today,

  • I'm talking The Rock in full character,

  • because 2001 was a really weird time.

  • - Good morning, and Bill Gates,

  • you have some pretty cool catch phrases as well.

  • What are some of your favorite?

  • - My favorite is probably writing

  • hardcore C to create slick type code.

  • (audience laughing)

  • - The Xbox officially went on sale

  • at midnight on November 15 2001 here in the United States

  • and it followed up in early 2002 in other parts of the world

  • such as Europe as well as Asia.

  • And it didn't exactly will catch on

  • anywhere else around the world.

  • By the end of its lifecycle,

  • the Xbox had only sold a mere 450,000 units in Japan

  • and only about 2 million in the entire Asia Pacific region.

  • That was a massive failure,

  • although it did perform a little bit better in Europe

  • where they sold a grand total of around 6 million Xboxes.

  • Halo really is the reason that they sold the Xbox at all.

  • In the first few months of being on sale,

  • they sold over 1 million copies of Halo,

  • which is a lot especially by 2001 standards.

  • - You know, the team had a big vision

  • and had a lot of crazy ideas,

  • and it was just fun to like kind of figure out

  • how do we pull that all off and then content.

  • I remember when we first showed Halo

  • for the first time at E3, original Halo Combat Evolved,

  • people were kind of like, I'm not sure,

  • I mean, first person shooters

  • really hadn't existed with a controller

  • and mapping the keyboard and mouse controllers

  • to a controller was a new thing,

  • people took a little while to get used to it,

  • but then as soon as we launched,

  • it was clear that we had something special

  • and but not only did Halo take off

  • but then we launched Xbox Live the next holiday,

  • it really took off from there.

  • (intense music)

  • - Less than a year after release,

  • Microsoft did give the Xbox a price cut

  • going from $300 down to 200.

  • Now this meant that they could

  • better compete with the GameCube

  • as well as hopefully with the PlayStation 2

  • but it did mean that Microsoft

  • was selling the console at loss,

  • and at the end of the day, no console of this generation

  • could even come close to the kind of sales numbers

  • of the PlayStation 2 set down.

  • Inside, the Xbox was very clearly

  • the most powerful console of this generation

  • and that is almost entirely due to the fact

  • that they did opt to go for a very PC like architecture.

  • This uses a custom Intel Pentium III

  • CPU clocked at 733 megahertz, 64 megabytes of DDR SRAM

  • as well as a very customized Nvidia GPU.

  • Now this meant this had some real performance

  • especially in games such as Project Gotham Racing,

  • as well as Halo 2, which performed well and looked great,

  • however, it meant the backwards compatibility

  • for future generations was a little bit more difficult

  • but we'll get into that just a little bit later.

  • Now the Xbox did use a DVD drive

  • unlike the GameCube and Dreamcast,

  • however, unlike the PlayStation 2,

  • you had to purchase a dongle as well as a remote

  • to actually play any kind of DVD content.

  • Just put a DVD in standardly,

  • it just doesn't really do anything.

  • So that was pretty big negative point

  • in that you had to go buy extra stuff

  • whereas lots of people bought PS2s purely as DVD players.

  • This also opened up a world of homebrew

  • and piracy issues for the Xbox.

  • Now Microsoft did redesign the internal components

  • of the Xbox a couple times to try

  • to get around people who are cracking it,

  • but generally speaking, this even to this day

  • is still a very popular emulation machine

  • and there are even like flash drives that you can buy

  • that will allow you to completely open it up for homebrew

  • or whatever you wanna do on it.

  • One of the more unique and controversial

  • parts of the original Xbox

  • was the controller it shipped with, the Duke.

  • Now this thing was absolutely massive.

  • And while some people do swear by it even to this day,

  • for the most part, it was a pretty major failure,

  • especially considering that they actually developed

  • a secondary controller called the S for the Japanese market

  • which they subsequently used to ship

  • everywhere in the world by 2002.

  • So the Duke was cool, but it didn't exactly last long

  • and also, have you seen how big this thing is?

  • One slight advantage of the Xbox controller

  • is that it did introduce the idea of a breakaway cable.

  • Let's say your annoying roommate

  • decides to kick your Xbox or kick your cable,

  • it would just attach as opposed

  • to ripping your entire console down,

  • which is almost as good as wireless.

  • - Even in the color materials design of the hardware,

  • the cables themselves had sort of

  • a translucent, green effect,

  • it really tried to reflect

  • the quality of the user experience,

  • so, as you remember, when you turned on the original Xbox

  • you had this sort of rotating sphere

  • that felt out of this world

  • and so we really wanted the hardware

  • to start to bridge that experience.

  • - The real linchpin for the Xbox's success with Xbox Live

  • which launched in November of 2002,

  • a full year after the console came out.

  • Now it was always designed with online play in mind,

  • I mean, of course, it has ethernet jack on the back.

  • However, Xbox Live is really what separated this

  • from the rest of the consoles of that generation.

  • It's easy to take this kind of stuff for granted

  • but there's a lot of legitimate innovations

  • that came with Xbox Live on the original Xbox.

  • That ethernet jack, provided that you had broadband internet

  • allowed you to not only play games with other people,

  • but you can even download content

  • to your hard drive for games or you can chat via voice

  • which we you actually had the headset.

  • None of this stuff was really even remotely around

  • for some of those very, very early

  • console gaming experiences,

  • I mean it was all kludgy and weird,

  • kinda like the Nintendo switches today.

  • This was a big hit almost immediately,

  • there were over 150,000 people

  • who subscribed in the first week

  • and over 50 games are available