Origins of the PlayStation controller

Teiyu Goto discusses how he came up with the design of both the original PlayStation, which was released 15 years ago, and its controller.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Teiyu Goto
Teiyu Goto Sony

The original PlayStation, which launched in the U.S. in 1995, changed the gaming business forever. The console's designer recently offered the story behind the device--and its controller.

Teiyu Goto told Japan's Famitsu magazine that he started working on the PlayStation in 1993. (The article was translated into English by game site 1up.com.)

Goto said that Sony was looking for a simple look for its console, which caused the design team to build the "basic box with a circle on top for the CD-ROM." All in all, he said, the console's design was "a relatively easy design process."

The controller was a different issue.

According to Goto, Sony was concerned that its controller not "be a radical departure" from the controller available on the SNES, the popular console at the time. But Goto didn't see it that way. He delivered a concept with grips and a control stick that, at first glance, Sony execs didn't like.

"They told me that the grip design was simply no good, that gamers wouldn't like it," Goto said. But after further inspection, then-Sony-President Norio Ohga decided he liked the design and chose to go with it.

PlayStation controller Sony

Once the familiar controller's design was ready, Goto had to determine what to put on the familiar diamond-arranged buttons. His decision to pick the triangle, circle, X, and square was well thought out.

"The triangle refers to viewpoint; I had it represent one's head or direction and made it green," Goto said. "Square refers to a piece of paper; I had it represent menus or documents and made it pink. The circle and X represent 'yes' or 'no' decision-making and I made them red and blue respectively."

Goto has had a long career at Sony and also designed the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and related peripherals.