Similar to the goal of the Phillips CD-I, a company called 3D0 set out to create a new standard in multimedia. Their creation became the 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer. It was capable of running 3D0 interactive software (games), Audio CD?s, CD+G, Photo CD, and Video CD?s using an add on. Rather then manufacturing their new system, 3D0 decided to make 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer a franchise. Sanyo, Panasonic and Goldstar all bought rights to manufacture the 3D0 system. Once produced and sold, 3D0 would claim a royalty for each system and $3 for each game sold.
In October of 1993, Panasonic began sales of the first 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer. The systems capabilities were clearly quite ahead of it?s time. Although it was not the first 32-bit system in history, the 3D0 was the first 32-bit system in the United States. The images shown are of Panasonic?s 3D0 models FZ-1 R.E.A.L 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer, and FZ-10 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer. There are several more models established by other companies, but other then a few additions they are all pretty much the same.
As groundbreaking as the console was, the 3D0 was also one of the most expensive systems ever released. At a whopping $700USD or more, this machine only seemed to attract the wealthy. Even after a few price drops, the 3D0 never recovered from its initial reputation as a rich man's videogame system. Since 3D0 placed no software licensing restrictions, the 3D0 amassed a large library of games. Some quality titles such as ?Need For Speed? and ?Road Rash? became quite popular. Others (as with Atari 2600 titles) were sheer crap.
In 1995 the 3D0 company began announcing a new technology called 3D0 M2. This technology was rumored to have 7 times the power of any console released at the time. M2 would come standard in a new 3D0 system, or be used to upgrade existing systems.
The 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer could have had the capability to compete even with newer 32-bit systems, but M2 never became reality. M2 technology was sold off to another company (Matsushita), and 3D0 machines never saw the upgrade. Gamers found themselves more interested in cheaper 16-bit consoles, and eventually newer 32-bit systems entered the market. 3D0 games and systems found their way into clearance bins starting in 1996.The system eventually died the end of that year.
FACT: 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer had only one controller port. However, this wasn't a problem since extra controllers (up to 8) could be easily daisy-chained to another controller. The original Panasonic controllers have a built-in stereo headphone jack along with a volume control dial. The system has its own internal memory to save games and other information. It has 2 expansion ports which were to be used for future upgrades such as memory cards, modems, digital video cartridges and the M2 system upgrade. The 3D0 was definitely designed for the long haul.
The Panasonic 3DO may have been the first released version using the 3DO architecture, but it definitely was not the only system available.
The Goldstar 3DO console (Top image) was released North America, East Asia and Europe at a MSRP of $399. Goldstar expanded distribution of the 3DO system by making it available through mass merchandisers and toy stores. It was far cheaper then it?s Panasonic counterpart, but was reported to have many hardware faults. This system included pack in CD?s Shockwave, FIFA Soccer, and a demo photo CD. It Also included a certificate to send in with a roll of film to have your own custom Photo CD disc made.
The Samsung 3DO (bottom left) was first presented at 1994 Summer CES in Chicago. The Samsung 3DO console was set to include built-in MPEG decoding hardware for viewing VCD and full motion video. The console has since been cancelled.
The Sanyo 3DO (bottom right) was marketed in Japan only. This version featured the most unique containing the waves you could see on top of the unit.
Although it cannot be considered a console, there was yet another version of 3DO available. Creative Designs took the 3DO concept and placed it on a card. The 3DO Blaster was a PC compatible ISA card that allowed gamers the ability to play 3DO software on their Windows based home computers. It has since been discontinued, and is considered a rarity to collectors.