How I Got My PlayStation

A Brazilian game-magazine editor came all the way to New York to stand in line for 38 hours for a shiny black box

4 min read

As a video-game fanatic in my own right and as the editor of four game magazines in Brazil, I knew that to satisfy our readership with firsthand reviews I had to get my hands on a Sony PlayStation 3 on 17 November, the day it was to be released. After all, it was hyped as the most powerful game machine ever. The trouble was that Sony’s game division had no official presence in Brazil, and that it pretty much ignored the local media, despite the country’s several million gamers. If I wanted a PS3, I would have to come to New York City and wait in line.

And the waiting promised to be long. Because of production snags, reportedly due to shortages in Blu-ray laser components, the PS3 launch was going to be plagued by a scarcity of machines. Sony had originally planned to have 400 000 PS3 units for its U.S. launch, but industry analysts were saying the company would ship no more than 150 000. Sony remained optimistic, saying that by year-end it would ship 1 million PS3 units in North America, but again, some analysts estimated shipments would reach only half that amount.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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