The Pippin had a short but fascinating history, which started as a way for Apple to expand into the multimedia market and ended as a failed games console made by Bandai.
Let’s go back to the early ’90s, a few years after Steve Jobs was impeached and during a particularly difficult phase in Apple’s history. To expand to more households, Apple created an open hardware platform based on the Macintosh operating system. It was described at the time as an “abbreviated Macintosh” running the classic Mac OS and powered by a PowerPC processor. This was not a retail product, but a platform that Apple planned to license to various companies who could make it their own with customizations. It can be used for education, as a home PC or as a multimedia hub.
Leading toy maker and game developer Bandai stepped on the board and evolved Apple’s “Pippin Power Player” prototype into the Pippin Atmark game console in Japan and Pippin @World in the US. Running on a PowerPC 603 32-bit processor with 6MB of RAM, the Pippin Atmark/@World wasn’t the most powerful system, but it did have some innovative features, including an NTSC/PAL switch, a boomerang-shaped controller, games that can run on a Mac desktop, and support for a full-sized keyboard.
The console flopped and apart from a small licensing deal with Norwegian company Katz, Apple found no other suitors. There were three main reasons why the Pippin failed: it launched for $600 (over $1,000 today!), there were few compelling games to play (especially in the US), and Sony, Sega, and Nintendo already had a stranglehold. on the market .