Over the course of 30 hours from November 20 to November 21, 2005, Microsoft allowed more than 2,000 Xbox fans to be the very first people to get their hands on the brand-new Xbox 360. On the second day, those fans became the first people to be able to buy the all-new console. The event, which was held in Palmdale, Calif., was called "Zero Hour." It heralded the beginning of the "next-gen" video game console generation.
The Xbox turned 5 years old on Sunday.
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First Xbox 360 buyer
Norm Edwards holds up the first-ever Xbox 360 to go on sale, at the "Zero Hour" event in Palmdale, Calif., on November 21, 2005.
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Original Xbox 360
Microsoft's original Xbox 360 required an add-on 20GB hard drive and didn't have integrated Wi-Fi. It cost $399 in 2005.
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In an attempt to match Sony's offering of a Blu-ray player with its PlayStation 3, Microsoft began offering an add-on HD DVD player.
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Red Ring of Death
For the first year or two after the Xbox 360 launch, the consoles were plagued with the so-called "Red Ring of Death," a hardware defect that caused the consoles to crash and often die. Microsoft later came up with a $1 billion warranty program to ensure that users were able to get a working Xbox.
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Among the biggest franchises in video game history, Halo was also one of the biggest exclusives for the Xbox. There are now six Halo titles, including the original, which was released for the first Xbox.
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Gears of War
Another giant success for Xbox was the exclusive Gears of War franchise from Epic.
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In 2007, Microsoft released the Xbox 360 Elite, which had a 120GB hard drive, as well as an HDMI port and HDMI cable, and a wireless remote. It cost $479 when it was released.
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Gears of War 2
Epic followed up its mega-hit with Gears of War 2, also an Xbox exclusive.
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Another big exclusive franchise for the Xbox was Fable, from Lionhead Studios, run by legendary game designer Peter Molyneux. The franchise continued with Fable II, and now Fable III is in the works.
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A huge part of the Xbox success story has been Xbox Live, the online service used by 25 million members that provides access for multiplayer gaming. Those who want premium service pay $60 a year for Xbox Live Gold.
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Halo 3 became one of the best-selling games ever when it was released in 2007.
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The third major iteration of the Xbox 360, the Slim was released in 2010 and brought the cost of the core system down to $300, and offered users a 250GB hard drive and built-in Wi-Fi.
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The Halo franchise was developed by Bungie Studios, but one iteration, Halo Wars, was put out by Ensemble Studios.
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Social media on Xbox Live
In the fall of 2009, Microsoft released a new version of Xbox Live that offered users access to their Facebook, Twitter, and Last.fm accounts, allowing them to use all those services without having to leave the Xbox universe.
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In 2010, Bungie and Microsoft released Halo: Reach, the latest version of the mega-hit franchise.
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Microsoft's Kinect motion controller seems poised to help the Xbox become much more versatile. The system allows players to control games wirelessly with little more than their hands.