Forgotten failures, how fun to find them. The other day, I was browsing the web — I don’t even know how I tripped over this — and I stumble upon an Apple gaming console. “What! Apple had a gaming console?” I thought to myself in complete disbelief. “When?” I continued in thinking I had completely missed something in life. Well right around the time Windows was making it’s big move up from 3.11 to 95. That’s when. One reason many of us may have missed it was because everyone was too busy accusing Microsoft of ripping off the Mac interface. That and maybe because in truth, this game console had to compete with the Sega Genesis, the Nintendo SNES, and the Atari Jaguar. Oh wait, no one was really competing against the last.
So what was the Pippin? Well for starters, it is a type of an apple that is smaller than the McIntosh variety. Apple described the gaming console as a, “multimedia player platform derived from Apple’s second generation Power Macintosh hardware and system software. It is designed as a playback tool for multimedia CD-ROMs initially created for the Macintosh and/or IBM compatible PC and at a low cost.” Unfortunately, Apple thought $599 was low. Yikes. Apple continued to describe it on its now defunct Pippin site as a device directed toward the home market and, “probably schools,” for the consumer AV market. Schools? Did Apple have a real game plan for this or what?
Basically, the CD-ROM was making a large impact in the computer world and Apple thought with it and the PowerPC chip, it had a winner. To even push the unit further and faster, Apple tapped on a popular name to move the game console. Bandai. Don’t recognize the name? Well its parent company owned the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers which was hot stuff back in the mid-nineties. (Remember Vanilla Ice was in one of those movies?) Bandai Digital Entertainment group had a good chunk of marketing change to push this unit and Apple hoped it would be a major success.
But as history would show, it was a flop. There were too many things wrong with the unit from poor text display, to wired controllers, to forcing use of PSInet as the only way to get on the Internet, to having not enough RAM to even run Netscape 2.0, to the silly name @World which most wouldn’t have understood back in early 1996. Add all that up on top of the amazing $600 price tag and you have a have another Lisa.
Like the Lisa, this game console is a fascinating study. From the ADB being changed into a joystick port to the large 4 MB RAM cartridge to that shiny PowerPC logo on the right side of the console. Seeing pictures of Mac OS on a TV from a black box that looked very much like a first generation black Sony PlayStation is trippy. It’s a read I suggest you take a look at and waste countless hours with. The good folks at Mac Geek have documented this lost wonder very well and I know you’ll be just as amazed as I was when I read it.
And I thought the 3DO unit was the only causality of the game console wars.
[tags]apple,sony,playstation,pippin,@world,bandai,game console,adb,flop,mighty morphin power rangers,3d0[/tags]