15 Years, 15 Interesting Facts about Xbox
Article by George Norman
On 15 Nov 2016
The first, the original Xbox game console was rolled out to the public on November 15, 2001, precisely 15 years ago. At least in the US, because it took a bit longer for the console to reach other parts of the world. It was released in Japan on February 22, 2002, and in Australia and Europe on March 14, the same year.

Since the Xbox console is celebrating its 15th anniversary today, I though it a good idea to put together a list of 15 interesting facts you might want to know about this Microsoft product. Check them out below.


1. The name comes from DirectX Box

The console is a box that can run games, hence the "Box" part in its name. What about the X, where does that come from? It comes from Direct X, Microsoft’s graphics API. So to sum it up, the name Xbox is the short version of DirectX Box.

2. Microsoft considered 35 other names

Before going with the name Xbox (which the core team hated by the way), Microsoft considered 35 other names for the console, such as MIND (Microsoft Interactive Network Device), E2 (Extreme Experience), FACE (Full Action Centre), MTG (Microsoft Total Gaming), and AIO (All In One).

3. The Xbox wasn’t Microsoft’s first foray into console gaming

Remember the Sega Dreamcast? Well, Microsoft created a software platform that shipped with the console, meaning that Microsoft’s first foray into console gaming was the Dreamcast. When the Dreamcast failed to take off, Microsoft switched focus onto the Xbox. But before they did that, they went to Nintendo and Sony and…

4. Nintendo, Sony turned down Microsoft’s offer to join forces

After the Dreamcast fail, Microsoft went to Nintendo and offered to join forces. Nintendo turned Microsoft down. Microsoft then went to Sony and offered to join forces, but Sony declined as well. That’s when Bill Gates decided to heavily invest in the Xbox console.

5. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

At CES 2001, after delivering his keynote address, Bill Gates presented the Xbox console. Guess who showed up to help promote the device. None other than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

6. The original Xbox’s specs are laughable (by today’s standards)

Technology has come a long way since 2001 and, by today’s standards, the original Xbox’s specs are so low they’ll make you laugh. The console had a 733MHz Pentium 3 processor, 64MB or RAM memory, and 8GB of storage.

By comparison, last year’s mid-range ASUS ZenFone 2 (ZE551ML) smartphone comes with a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor, 4GB of RAM memory, and 64GB of storage.

7. AMD should have powered the Xbox (not Intel)

When Microsoft unveiled the Xbox console, it presented the specs mentioned above – which came as a huge surprise for AMD.

You see, the Xbox was designed to work with AMD processors. Just two days before the unveiling, Microsoft switched to Intel and forgot to tell AMD about it. AMD representatives found out about the switch only when Microsoft unveiled the Xbox.

8. The original Xbox lost Microsoft $4 billion

The original Xbox console sold like hotcakes. Although there were some concerns about the steep $299 price tag, 1.5 million Xbox units were sold in just 3 months after launch. Despite this great start, the Xbox didn’t make Microsoft any money, it was actually costing it money.

Four years had passed since the launch of the original Xbox console, and Microsoft’s Xbox division still wasn’t in the black. The Xbox division lost Microsoft $4 billion in 4 years.

That’s a lot of money for regular folk like you and me, but keep in mind that at the time, in 2005, Microsoft reported $40 billion in revenue. That’s figure has gone up to $85 billion in 2016 by the way.

9. Microsoft has sold over 120 million Xbox consoles

To date, Microsoft has sold more than 120 million Xbox consoles. About 24 million original Xbox consoles, some 80 million Xbox 360 consoles, and over 20 million Xbox One consoles.

So far, Microsoft hasn’t released any sales figures for the sleek new Xbox One S, which hit the market back in August. It did boast that it’s the best-selling console in the US though.

10. Xbox Live has 49 million active users

This summer, when Microsoft released the financial results for its fourth quarter, it unveiled that the number of Xbox Live monthly active users grew 33% year-over-year, reaching 49 million users.

Xbox Live, Microsoft’s online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service, launched 13 years ago, in November 2002. It took until July 2004 for the service to reach 1 million online users.

11. The Xbox logo is green because…

Some say that the green is meant to signify nuclear power.

But according to Seamus Blackley (who co-wrote the initial Xbox proposal, helped assemble the team that built the Xbox, and promoted the Xbox to developers around the world), the logo is green because that’s the only color the designer, Horace Luke, had at the time. Someone had stolen all his marker pens and the only one he had was a green one.

12. Play Xbox games on your PC

You can play Xbox games on your Windows 10 PC by streaming it from your console to your PC. Or better yet, by getting an Xbox Play Anywhere title.

Purchase an Xbox Play Anywhere game and you can play it on both your Windows 10 PC and your Xbox One console. All your save games, achievements, and game add-ons are available on both platforms at no additional cost, and you can easily switch between your PC and your console.

13. Order a pizza, win an Xbox One S Console

Did you know that you could win an Xbox One S every hour until Christmas Eve just by ordering some pizza? All the details you need to know about are available here.

14. The Xbox Holiday Update started rolling out

The Xbox Team recently annonced that "the wait is over," referring to the fact that the Xbox Holiday Update started rolling out to the community on Xbox One and the Xbox app for Windows 10, iOS, and Android devices.

The Holiday Update’s main highlights are: Clubs, Looking for Group (LFG), Achievement Rarity, group messaging on Xbox Live, an improved the Gamerscore Leaderboard, and emojis for the Xbox One virtual keyboard.

15. Microsoft has some great Black Friday deals

Want to get a new Xbox One S but you don’t want to play full price? Microsoft has some great Black Friday deals to offer. From November 20 until November 23, you can get the 1TB Xbox One S for $50 off. And from November 24 until November 28, you can get a new Xbox One S starting at $249, its lowest price ever.

On top of that, Microsoft has some great deals for Xbox One S bundles, Xbox accessories, Xbox Live Gold memberships, and games. More details here.

How much Xbox has grown in the past 15 years

Will Tuttle, Xbox Wire Editor in Chief, shared these figures that show how much Xbox has grown for the past 15 years:
  • Number of players: 222,468,423
  • Number of total gaming hours: 100,539,390,670
  • Number of total multiplayer hours: 29,000,304,183
  • Number of Achievements unlocked: 32,667,582,157
  • Gamerscore racked up: 572,605,554,587
  • Highest Gamerscore: 1,416,465
  • Number of Xbox Live friendships made: 4,233,891,482

Tags: Microsoft, Xbox, anniversary, fun facts
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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