Sony released several versions of the original Playstation since it’s birth in December 1994. There were some hardware problems in earlier models that were later resolved with changes in later console revisions. There are also some interesting and rare developer consoles that were released. This is a guide to help you understand all of the changes and differences in models.
Consoles and Colors:
There are two main revisions of the Playstation, the original Playstation and the smaller sleeker PSone. I will refer to these as the Playstation and PSone respectively from here on out. Several versions of the Playstation were released, with each eliminating some of the ports located on the back of the console. The PSone was released about five years after the Playstation and required an external DC power supply compared to the internal power supply in the Playstation.
Sony also released a Development Kit to the public called the Net Yaroze. This console allowed programmers to develop and test games on Playstation hardware. These consoles are textured black and are highly sought after, bringing a high price tag to this day. There were also debugging consoles that were made mainly for demonstration purposes. These debugging consoles were made with blue, grey and green shells, and are also sought after in the collecting community. It is important to note that pretty much all of the development and debugger consoles are region-free and can play Playstation games from anywhere.
The Playstation ‘Bad Laser’ or ‘Overheating’ Issue:
Some of the early models had a laser with plastic moving parts. The plastic would wear and warp over time with use and from the heat of the console, leading to the laser not reading disks properly. Turning the console upside-down would prevent the laser from running on these warped plastic rails.
Sony replaced these lasers in the SCPH-5500 models and later with ones made of metal parts. Keep in mind that this does include the models with the audio and video RCA jacks on the back of the device. While some believe that these have superior audio, I have yet to find a good source that accurately compares the models. If you do know of one, please leave it in the comments below.
Ports and Jacks:
As new models of the Playstation 1 come out over the years, the ports on the back of the console also changed. Below is a chart showing the progression of the consoles and which ports they have.
A/V RCA Outs
RFU DC Out
AV Multi Out
|This range of models have the most ports available on the back of the console. They are slightly more sought after because of this. Models in this range did suffer from FMV skipping due to the laser.|
AV Multi Out
|This generation fixed the FMV skipping issue redesigning the laser and CD tray. The RCA outputs were also removed.|
AV Multi Out
|This revision featured a redesigned circuit board to reduce cost. It also added the SoundScope visualization when playing audio CD’s. The Parallel Report was also removed.|
|AV Multi Out
|The slim model redesign removed the serial port and featured a much smaller form factor. This console requires an external power adapter for the DC in.|
There are four exceptions to this chart:
1) The original SCPH-1000 that was released only in Japan included an S-Video output on the back of the console along with the RCA jacks in the early SCPH-1001 models.
2) Sony also released a promotional Men in Black edition of the Playstation. This console has a glossy black shell with the Men in Black logo painted on the lid. The model number for this edition is SCPH-5502.
3) Model SCPH-5903 is a special model that can play VCD discs. This model was only released in Japan and is the only larger Playstation that has a white shell. The console has the text Video CD printed on the top right corner of the shell. This model also has AV RCA jacks on the back along with Parallel and Serial ports.
4) As a celebration for the 10th million Playstation sold, Sony released a special Midnight Blue edition of models SCPH-7000, SCPH-7001, and SCPH-7002. This console featured a dark blue shell.
The earliest models of the playstation came with the most ports. From left to right looking at the back of the console, these ports are: the Parallel I/O, Serial I/O, RCA Audio Out (R+L) , RFU DC Out, RCA Video Out, AV Multi Out, and AC In. Here is a breakdown of what these do:
1) Parallel I/O: This port can be used by cheat devices such as the Game Shark and Game Enhancer. No official Sony products supported this port and it was later removed from the design starting with the SCPH-9000 model.
2) Serial I/O: The Playstation Link Cable used this port. The link cable would connect two Playstations together allowing two people to play multiplayer on two separate consoles and TV’s. Only certain games supported this functionality.
3) RCA Audio Out (R+L): RCA audio outputs allow you to use standard RCA cables to connect the console to your TV without the use of the proprietary A/V cable.
4) RFU DC Out: This is a power connection for an external RF modulator that would be used to convert the standard analog video and audio to an RF signal. Older TV’s did not have RCA inputs, meaning they needed this device to send signal from the Playstation to the TV. Sony would later release an RF cable for the AV Multi Out port and remove this port from the Playstation.
5) RCA Video Out: RCA video output would allow you to use a standard RCA cable to send video from the Playstation to the TV.
6) AV Multi Out: This is the proprietary connector Sony used for audio and video output. The standard AV cable had audio and video RCA jacks. There were also AV cables that had S-video and RF connections.
7) AC In: This port is used to connect the internal power supply to a wall outlet. It is a standard IEC60320 cable that uses a C8 connector. You may also hear these cables referred to as figure-8 cables.
8) DC In 7.5V: The PSone model did not have an internal power supply and therefore needed an external one to turn on. You can use a universal power supply as long as it does meet the 7.5V requirement. Keep this in mind when buying a used console, as it is easier and cheaper to replace a power cable on a Playstation compared to a PSone.
Playstations are region locked, so keep this in mind when purchasing imports. Each region will also have a different power source pertaining to that region’s power requirements. Each Playstation will be region-locked to one of the following regions:
- 0 – Japan
- 1 – USA/Canada
- 2 – PAL (Europe/Australia)
- 3 – Asia
You can tell which region a console is by looking at the model number posted on the bottom of the console. The last digit will indicate the region specified above.
It is important to note that while all of the normal consoles are region-locked, the Debugger and Net Yaroze consoles are able to play all regions without modifications.
So, Which Should I Buy?:
If you are looking to buy a Playstation to play and enjoy, you should probably look into getting a later model with a better laser. Look for a model of SCPH-5500 or later. These will typically last longer and cause you the least issues. It should not be too hard to find one of these for cheap. The PSone is also a great console that has an incredibly small form factor which can be very convenient. These consoles never had laser issues the big models did.
If you are a collector or like oddball consoles, keep an eye out for any of the special models specified above. Some of these are extremely rare and fetch a high price.