“We went through every component, every piece”

by Fraser Gilbert, Pure Xbox

You might recall that we highlighted Bloomberg’s excellent oral history of the original Xbox earlier this week, and as part of the feature, Xbox exec Aaron Greenberg revealed the PS2 played a notable role in the console’s development.

Various team members admitted that they were “so naive about the complexity” of building a brand-new console, and with no companies doing tear-downs, they took it upon themselves to strip a PS2 to its bare bones.

“In the old days, there weren’t companies that did tear-downs, so we actually had to take a PS2, we took the entire thing apart, put it on a giant wood board. We did a whole competitive review, and we went through every component, every piece and priced it out and tried to figure out how many screws and how much did it cost.”

The CEO of the manufacturer Flextronics also admitted that the team was “very transparent about the fact that they didn’t know what they were doing,” and the first version of the Xbox ended up having a failure rate of about 20-25%.

To make things worse, 200,000 consoles had to be reworked because the DVD drive was scratching the discs, but fortunately it all worked out in the end, and the Xbox was finally released on November 15, 2001 in the US.

Here’s what Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had to say about the original Xbox team:

“One of my favorite things about Microsoft—and something I still love to do today—was getting to explore big, new ideas that might seem impossible to other people. We built the whole company around that. The early Xbox days were a great example—with a group of people who knew that gaming would be huge, and they believed Microsoft had a role to play even though it would mean starting something completely new.”

How do you feel about the original Xbox? Were you a fan? Let us know down in the comments.

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