One of several attempts to introduce a reference standard for home systems that would be licences to different manufacturers (see also MSX and LaserActive).

Trip Hawkins, the high-profile and charismatic former Chief Executive and President of Electronic Arts, founded the 3DO Company, which set the standards and evangelised the new format, bringing on board various hardware manufacturers and software developers. Panasonic made the first player, with Goldstar and Sanyo releasing rival machines soon after. Panasonic also released a cut down version of their R·E·A·L player which had a cheaper, top-loading, CD mechanism and no MPEG facility.

Although the machine was undoubtedly impressive when compared with the contemporary Mega Drive and SNES, pre-launch excitement was tempered by reports of development hitches. At the June 1993 CES show it emerged that the display 3DOs were in fact dummies, and the joypads were actually connected to hidden Apple Macs running the demonstration games.

The high initial price of the base units meant that many machines collected dust in the corner of video game stores. By the time the price began to drop, the 3DO had gained the unfortunate nickname 3DOA and the attention of gamers swung towards the new wonder machines promised from Sony and Sega.

The Games

Trip Hawkins close association with EA meant that most early games were updated conversions of EA classics such as Road Rash, FIFA Soccer and the John Madden licence.

Crystal Dynamics, a start-up company set up to write games for the new format, released a number of original titles for the machine, including Crash ‘n’ Burn, Total Eclipse and the original Gex. Although Crystal Dynamics was a new company, they could boast an impressive pedigree: their coding team included refugees from Sega’s Technical Institute, responsible for Sonic 2 on the Mega Drive. Mark Cerny had also designed and programmed Atari’s arcade classic Marble Madness.

Other companies writing for 3DO included Capcom, Psygnosis, Gremlin, Krysalis and Interplay.


More information to follow


Thanks to Ian Davis for his help.

Major events

June 1993
3DO previewed at the Chicago CES show


Mac OS X

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CPU: ARM6 32-Bit RISC 12.5Mhz + maths co-processor
Direct Memory Access engine, allowing large amounts of data to be shifted without using the CPU2MB (D)RAM
Double speed CD-ROM
MPEG Cart on some models
8 controllers can be connected with one controller port on system
640×480 maximum screen resolution