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PlayStation 3 generation has begun

At just before midnight, the very first PS3s went on sale

SAN FRANCISCO--Sony is fond of saying that each new generation of video game consoles doesn't really begin until it launches its entry.

If that's so--and Microsoft would certainly have some quibbles with the notion--then the next-generation console era is most definitely on.

Daniel Terdiman/CNET Networks

At just before midnight Jack Tretton, Sony Computer Entertainment of America vice president and co-COO, handed over the first PlayStation 3 bought on the West Coast. The lucky recipient? Chris Toribio of San Francisco, who, along with a group of friends, had been waiting in line since 8 a.m. Wednesday.

It was a scene straight out Hollywood. As Toribio walked to the counter to pay for his PS3, he was encircled by photographers, who created a virtual strobe effect from all the flashes going off.

Toribio, who looked a little unsteady on his feet--and who can blame him after nearly 40 hours waiting in line on a downtown street here--took the proffered bag, turned around, posed for pictures and acceded to demands that he pull out the PS3 and show it off.

He then shouted, in a fairly hoarse voice, "All right! Everybody get yours!!"