TIME

My first experience with Sony’s original PlayStation occurred almost a year before yours: in the display window of a Babbages in an out-of-the-way shopping mall in western Iowa.

Babbages, many have probably forgotten, was a franchise named after Charles Babbage, the guy credited with inventing the mechanical computer, that sold computer software and console games back when you could still buy stuff like Peachtree Accounting in biblical boxes from brick-and-mortar outfits. I worked there during my last year of undergrad part-time, less for the money than to be closer to my hobby.

My store manager was a connoisseur of the improbable, popping up with this or that strange gizmo months before it registered on the public radar. (this was the early 1990s, the Internet embryonic and everyone still looked to magazines for breaking info.) And so when Sony released the PlayStation in Japan on December 3, 1994, he imported…

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