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Things We Learned About PlayStation (Thanks To Fans)

List RulesVote up the most fascinating facts about PlayStation's various consoles.

Ever since Sony entered the video game console wars in 1994 with the PlayStation, the company has absolutely dominated the playing field. The successive five generations of releases have all sold remarkably well, which is largely due to the extensive library of console exclusives, the exceptional speed and versatility of the system's GPU, and a happy horde of fans eager to get their hands on whatever the company releases.

Even if you're an avid fan who spends more time playing games than you do reading list articles online, odds are you know a lot about the PlayStation. Still, it's hard to know everything, so take a look at these facts about PlayStation that we learned (thanks to fans). If you find anything you didn't already know, be sure to give it an upvote!

  • Photo: Amazon

    The PlayStation 3 Was Used To Create The Fastest Computer In The US Air Force

    Just like its predecessor, the PlayStation 3's chipset could be used for military applications, and when it came out, the United States Air Force was paying attention. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) created the "Condor Cluster," a supercomputer capable of performing 500 trillion floating-point operations per second (TFLOPS). The system was created to analyze high definition satellite imagery.

    This made the Condor Cluster the fastest interactive computer in the Department of Defense. The supercomputer, which was the 33rd largest in the world at the time of its creation, was made using 1,760 Sony PlayStation 3s. The project took about four years to complete, and the reason the AFRL opted to use PS3s instead of something off-the-shelf was due to cost.

    If the AFRL wanted to create the same supercomputer using other computer parts, it would have cost around $10,000 per unit for a total cost of $17.6 million. The PS3 retailed for $400 each, which put the overall cost at only $704,000. There were other parts that went into the final design, including 168 separate GPUs and 84 coordinating servers, which put the final price tag at about $2 million.

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  • Photo: Paquitogio / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The PlayStation Was Never Meant To Exist

    It's strange looking back on how successful the PlayStation was at launch, but it wasn't meant to be a product when it first entered development. Sony wasn't involved in the video game console market before 1994, but it did partner with Nintendo to help design a new console that would exclusively play CD-ROMs instead of cartridges.

    The two companies worked together to design the Game Player, but something strange happened at the 1991 Consumer Electronics Show. Nintendo announced a new collaboration with Philips N.V., a competitor of Sony's. Nintendo effectively dropped its agreement with Sony (without directly telling them), and the Game Player was finished.

    Nintendo preferred to work with Philips to create an add-on to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System instead of creating a brand new one. Sony was appropriately angry about the corporate betrayal, so the company continued its development efforts and completed the rechristened PlayStation. Nintendo's betrayal ended up creating one of its biggest rivals.

    Interestingly, there was a Nintendo Game Station prototype that was developed. Its existence remained a rumor until 2015 when the only known one appeared at an estate sale. That unit sold for $380,000 at an auction in March 2020.

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    The Controller's Button Icons Mean Something

    When the controller for the PS1 was first released, the buttons looked different from the competition. Instead of the more familiar A, B, C, X, Y, Z, the PlayStation controller featured ◯,✖,▲ and ◼ for its button icons. It was distinct, and it certainly set the console apart, but why bother changing something that was already familiar to gamers?

    Sony had a reason for selecting those icons for its buttons. The icons ◯,✖,▲ and ◼ are respectively representative of "Yes," "No," "a viewpoint," and "a piece of paper." More specifically, the ▲ is meant to indicate direction, while the ◼ is meant to indicate a document or menu the player might need to activate by hitting the button. Sony's designer, Teiyu Goto, explained the choice in an interview with 1UP:

    We wanted something simple to remember, which is why we went with icons or symbols... I gave each symbol a meaning and a color. The triangle refers to viewpoint; I had it represent one's head or direction and made it green. Square refers to a piece of paper; I had it represent menus or documents and made it pink. The circle and X represent "yes" or "no" decision-making, and I made them red and blue, respectively.

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  • Photo: Sony

    The PS2 Startup Screen Was A Map Of Your Play History

    When you boot up your PlayStation 2, you see a loading/startup screen with the text "Sony Computer Entertainment" floating above blocky towers of differing heights and colors. To a casual observer, this might just seem like an interesting graphic to keep the screen from looking boring, but it was far more than that.

    Each "tower" represented one of the games you played on that particular machine. The higher the tower, the more times you played it. Over time, this effectively creates a bird's eye view of a cityscape comprised of the games you played. Of course, if you lack a memory card for your PS2, this doesn't happen.

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