Normal observers would look at the photo below and see a crime against the environment, or perhaps just a mess of old black plastic boxes.
Avid console collectors would see the photo below and have quite a few memories. In the right foreground is one of the 14.1 million replacement power cables that were offered by Microsoft in 2005. The original cables presented a fire hazard and caused minor injury and property damage in 30 reported cases.
A less concerning, but more prevalent technical issue is the reason why I am now the owner of three original Xboxes. According to Dean Takahashi's great book, Opening The Xbox the R&D team had to beg and plead Microsoft leadership for every component of their nascent console, which was essentially a scaled down personal computer. As a result economy seemingly influenced the decision making process for non-critical components.
The launch DVD drive manufactured by Thomson was such one example, presenting tray ejection issues leaving discs scratched in some instances, but mostly just refused to remain shut or refused to open when "told". In even more cases the Thomson drives would not read discs at all -- a problem later shared by the Panasonic DVD drives that would replace them.
Ensconced in polystyrene in the right of the photo is the so-called "Duke" controller. Awkwardly large in size the controller was given the moniker because it could only be comfortable resting in the hands of the 20th century actor John Wayne.
Referring back to the image above, behind the Xbox on the shelf, a component cable adapter can be seen. This official Microsoft product presented a significant improvement over the composite cable supplied, allowing output in 480p, 720p and 1080i.
With both of my NTSC Xboxes not reading discs, I recently purchased a modified PAL Xbox that enables discs from any region to be played (the original Xbox was region locked). For a reasonable price (as discussed in Episode 95 of the Game Under Podcast) I am now able to once again access my respectable library of Xbox games on a system that, thanks to it's modification, loads games faster and more reliably than the intended operating system. Which given the depth and volume of the original Xbox platform is richly rewarding.
- Phil Fogg