The story of the original Xbox is full of surprises. Told in detail for 348 pages in the book At the heart of Xbox by Dean Takahashi, this story is full of anecdotes of all kinds. Today, it is Seamus Blackley, one of the creators of the project, who confides and apologizes.
The bad surprise for engineers at AMD
As we approach 20 years of Xbox, I feel the need, once again, to apologize.
The one who was part of the team that designed the very first Xbox console apologizes today to the manufacturer AMD.
At the time, engineers at AMD had lent a hand to Xbox to design the prototype of the machine. But when it was presented, what was their surprise when they discovered that the machine’s processor was ultimately that of Intel, the big rival.
I was there on stage for the announcement, with Bill Gates, and they were there in the front row looking so sad. I will never forget him. They had helped so much on the prototypes. Prototypes that literally ran the launch announcement demos on an AMD HARDWARE.
Seamus Blackley specifies that at this precise moment in the story, he felt “like a jerk”. According to him, it was Andrew Grove, CEO of Intel at the time, who contacted Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft at the same time. “Not me,” adds the engineer.
Intel has long been Microsoft’s partner, but it is AMD that has taken up the torch, in particular by supplying the chips for the Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Today, AMD is also Sony’s supplier for the PS5.
Asked about the reason for this last minute change, Seamus Blackley said it was purely political. It was another time, and it is hard to imagine today such a diplomatic incident to occur.
You can find the exact passage where Bill Gates announces that Intel is making the Xbox chip in the video below at 2 minutes and 30 seconds.