Facts About the Original Xbox
By Arnold Carreiro
Updated September 22, 2017
The Microsoft Xbox was released in North America on November 15th, 2001, and it instantly became the most technologically powerful piece of video game hardware on the market. It was discontinued in 2006 after selling over 24 million consoles worldwide. The Xbox was brought into a world of strong competition from Nintendo and Sony game consoles, but by 2005, it was the second-most popular video game system in North America, with similar results in Europe.
The Xbox is the first video game system to feature an internal hard disk drive; at 8GB, owners did not need memory cards for storage purposes. The high-powered, custom-made processor of the Xbox came from a joint effort between Microsoft and NVIDIA. NVIDIA canceled production of the processing units in August of 2005, marking the end of the Xbox. The system was originally sold at $299, but dropped to $149 in 2004. The console’s internal software is based on a variant of Windows 2000.
On a single console, an Xbox can support up to four players at once, and two or more systems can be connected for large-scale multiplayer (offline) gaming sessions using the System Link Cable. The classic Xbox contains a variety of non-gaming features as well, including the ability to rip music from CDs to the hard drive and DVD playback with the Xbox DVD remote. The Xbox Media Center Extender synced with Windows XP PCs to stream media content to the owner’s entertainment center.
Using the Ethernet cable port, gamers could connect to the Internet through the Xbox Live system and compete with millions of other Xbox players worldwide. With the Xbox Live Starter Kit, subscribers were able to verbally communicate with other players via an included headset. Members of Xbox Live were partnered with similar players through Microsoft’s TrueSkill Ranking system, which was based on skill level and game preferences. Xbox Live is available in over 30 nations, but all servers for classic Xbox Live titles were permanently disabled as of April 15th, 2010.
Microsoft Game Studios shifted their focus from PC titles to games for the Xbox by working with developers such as Bungie, Rare, Lionhead Studios and Bioware. The bestselling title for the Xbox was Halo 2, with over eight million copies sold. The last classic Xbox game produced was Madden NFL 09 from EA Sports, which released in August of 2008. Many different games were developed to suit the tastes of varied Xbox owners, and by 2005, the Halo, Forza Motorsports and Fable franchises each sold millions of copies.
The Xbox released in North America and Europe with the “standard” controller, which (by most standards) was a massive input device for gamers with average-sized hands. Built for people with smaller hands, the more manageable and compact “S” model controller was the norm for Japan. When Western users complained about how awkward the "standard" was, the “S” model quickly became the new customary controller worldwide. All official Xbox controllers feature two analog sticks, a directional pad, left and right triggers, black, white, A, X, Y, B, Start and Back buttons and a decorative central “Jewel” displaying the Xbox logo.
Based in northern Florida, Arnold Carreiro has been writing video game articles since 2005. His work has appeared on websites including Simply Rare, Atlantic Publishing and Quirk Classics. Carreiro holds an Associate of Arts in graphic design from Florida State College at Jacksonville.