20 years of Xbox: a visual history

Twenty years in the past at the moment, Microsoft launched the unique Xbox in North America, marking its daring entry into the world of console gaming. Since then, the design of Xbox consoles have modified virtually past recognition. What began with a piece of large and ponderous ‘90s-style electronics has (usually) gotten sleeker and extra compact, and as traits have shifted, we’ve seen wired controller ports, and even some disc drives, disappear.

To have a good time the anniversary, we’re taking a look again by way of every of the key Xbox consoles, from the unique Xbox with its large “Duke” controller, by way of the various iterations of the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and final yr’s Collection S and X. Microsoft could have technically solely launched 4 generations of Xbox in complete, however there have been quite a few smaller iterations remodeled the years as Microsoft has tweaked its designs and added assist for rising applied sciences.


Original Xbox

The unique Xbox with its smaller Controller S.

Photograph: Microsoft

Microsoft actually leaned into the “X” branding for the unique Xbox console, so named as a result of of the Microsoft DirectX expertise on which it was based mostly. The entire console is designed across the letter, with a large lime inexperienced brand in its middle displaying its identify. However regardless of its stylized look, the console had a very practical design total, with 4 controller ports on its entrance, an inner energy provide, and of course a built-in ethernet port for Microsoft’s all essential Xbox Dwell on-line gaming service.

Not like in later generations, Microsoft didn’t launch a slim model of its authentic Xbox console. However its controller went by way of a slimming course of quickly after its launch when Microsoft changed the unique console’s hulking “Duke” controller with the rather more compact “Controller S” that had initially been the usual controller for the console’s Japanese launch. Regardless of its unwieldy measurement, the Duke nonetheless has its followers, a lot in order that accent producer Hyperkin would later resurrect the design as an Xbox One controller.

Xbox 360

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The unique Xbox 360 with its Kinect accent on prime.

Photograph by Sam Byford / The Verge

The Xbox 360 was a very different-looking console to the unique Xbox. It now got here in white as normal and ditched the large “X” form in favor of minimal Xbox branding alongside the disc tray.

The console was a large success for Microsoft, and it arguably turned aggressive with Sony’s PlayStation for the primary time, however the authentic machine was beset with issues that led to an estimated quarter of consoles experiencing some sort of {hardware} failure. Most typical was the “Crimson Ring of Dying,” so known as as a result of of the three pink lights that will flash on the entrance of the console within the case of a drawback.

Microsoft would later announce an extended warranty to take care of the problems, and over the years quite a few home-brew fixes for the problems would emerge on-line, with sellers providing instruments and alternative thermal paste to assist customers repair the issues themselves.

Different notable {hardware} options of the unique Xbox 360 embody reminiscence unit slots on the entrance of the console and an simply detachable (albeit proprietary) exhausting drive on choose fashions. Oh, and of course there have been the swappable faceplates, which Microsoft supposed for customers to have the ability to use to customise the look of their machines. There was only one drawback with the faceplates: nobody bought them. Seems most individuals had been pleased sufficient with the unique console’s white colour scheme.

Xbox 360 S

The Xbox 360 S.

Picture: Microsoft

The Xbox 360 S introduced two vital benefits over the unique Xbox 360, or three when you embody its slimmer dimensions. First was that it provided a dedicated port for Microsoft’s new Kinect peripheral, which allow you to use the brand new motion-tracking accent with no need to energy it from the wall individually. And second was that it was a {hardware} redesign that Microsoft hoped would put the 360’s hardware failures clearly behind it.

Extra minor modifications included the introduction of the shiny black colour scheme that Microsoft would proceed to make use of properly into the Xbox One technology, abandoning the white coloring that had dominated the Xbox 360 lineup till then. It additionally benefitted from built-in Wi-Fi, further USB ports, and it ditched the 360’s proprietary exhausting drives in favor of SATA.

Xbox 360 E

The Xbox 360 E.

Picture: Microsoft

Microsoft launched the ultimate mannequin of the Xbox 360 E in June 2013, simply months earlier than it might launch the next-generation Xbox One. The 360 E didn’t carry with it a lot in the way in which of new options, but it surely had a new design that was consistent with the upcoming next-gen console. Microsoft additionally introduced that it might run quieter and cooler than beforehand 360 consoles.

Xbox One

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The unique Xbox One alongside its Kinect digicam.

Picture: The Verge

With the Xbox One, Microsoft had ambitions for its online game console to behave as a central hub for all of your leisure, somewhat than simply video games. At launch it included a quantity of video streaming companies, and there was the flexibility to route your cable field by way of the console to have the ability to use it to look at dwell TV, even whilst you’re enjoying video games. Early fashions additionally got here bundled with a new model of the corporate’s Kinect digicam.

However buggy performance, to not point out a dated VCR-style console design, restricted the attraction of the unique {hardware}. The Xbox One by no means delivered the house leisure revolution that Microsoft promised, and within the years after its authentic launch, Microsoft would transfer away from these initiatives because it tried to reposition the Xbox One as a gaming-first machine and shut the additional $100 value hole with the competitors.

Xbox One S

Xbox One S

The Xbox One S.

Images by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Though at first look the Xbox One S seems to be like a typical mid-generation slim-down, it additionally included some substantial upgrades over the unique console. Prime of the checklist was the addition of a 4K Blu-ray participant, in addition to assist for 4K / HDR video streaming companies, and HDR assist for video games themselves. By default, it additionally got here in a vibrant white colour scheme, which appeared to emphasise a clear break from the largely black and grey consoles that proceeded it.

That’s to not say it wasn’t additionally a rather more compact console than the unique Xbox One (40 % smaller based on Microsoft), however these upgrades had been vital at a time when 4K-capable disc gamers and streaming gadgets had been far much less widespread and inexpensive than they’re now. Microsoft would later launch a extra inexpensive disc-less mannequin in 2019.

Xbox One X

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The 4K-capable Xbox One X.

Photograph by James Bareham / The Verge

Initially teased underneath the codename “Challenge Scorpio,” the Xbox One X was meant as a strategy to carry 4K / HDR gaming to Microsoft’s Xbox One with no need to usher in a entire new technology of Xbox consoles. However regardless of packing in much more graphical horsepower than both the unique Xbox One or the Xbox One S, the Xbox One X nonetheless managed to be remarkably compact, with a comparable sharp rectangular design to the One S.

With the profit of hindsight, it’s attention-grabbing that Microsoft’s preliminary guarantees that the console can be succesful of VR by no means actually got here to move. However it was robust to care given the efficiency upgrades the console provided over the unique Xbox One, which even prolonged to some backward suitable Xbox 360 and authentic Xbox video games.

Xbox Collection S

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The Collection S.

Photograph by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Whereas it wasn’t the primary time that Microsoft has provided two tiers of console in a single technology (just like the “Core” version of the Xbox 360 which got here with out a exhausting drive and had a wired controller) the Collection S and Collection X characterize essentially the most considerably completely different consoles Microsoft has ever launched on the identical time. The Collection X seems to be like the longer term, whereas the Collection S seems to be rather more like an evolution of the Xbox One S.

In comparison with the Collection X, the Collection S is smaller, targets 1440p somewhat than 4K resolutions, and may solely play digital variations of video games due to its lack of a disc drive. However Microsoft’s guess is that extra budget-conscious players are unlikely to care when the console is out there for nearly half that of the extra premium Xbox Collection X.

Xbox Collection X

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Scorching console, cool design.

Photograph by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The Collection X’s distinctive design could have drawn frequent comparisons to a fridge due to its huge, upright design, however Microsoft doesn’t appear to thoughts. It’s even playfully embraced it with its totally functioning Xbox-themed fridges.

Whereas its design is not like something that Microsoft has put out earlier than, the Collection X clearly attracts inspiration from the clear traces and darkish colour scheme of the Xbox One X.

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