The Pippin had a short but fascinating history, beginning as a way for Apple to expand into the multimedia market and ending as a failed game console created by Bandai.
Let’s go back to the early 90s, a few years after Steve Jobs was ousted and during a particularly difficult phase in Apple’s history. Seeking to reach more homes, Apple created an open hardware platform based on the Macintosh operating system. It was described at the time as a “light Macintosh” running classic Mac OS and powered by a PowerPC processor. It was not a retail product, but a platform that Apple intended to license to different companies who could appropriate it with modifications. It can be used for education, as a home PC or as a media hub.
Leading toymaker and game developer Bandai stepped in, evolving Apple’s prototype “Pippin Power Player” into the Pippin Atmark game console in Japan and Pippin @World in the United States. Running on a 32-bit PowerPC 603 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 could be run on a Mac desktop, and full-size keyboard support.
The console failed, and apart from a small licensing deal with Norwegian company Katz, Apple found no other suitors. There were three main reasons the Pippin failed: it launched at $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. .