Take a look at early Xbox controller designs from 1999

The Xbox controller is in its third iteration, and in the 15 years since the launch of the first Xbox, the controller has gone through major redesigns. Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley shared a few images of controller designs from 1999 for the original Xbox, highlighting several interesting design choices that his team was working on.

The images show that the initial designs were inspired by the Sega Dreamcast, with the Xbox team mulling a VMU-style handheld device to go with the controller. There's even a design that is influenced by the X-wing starfighter from the Star Wars franchise.

Blackley also talked about how the Xbox name was derived from Microsoft's graphics API DirectX:

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What do you guys think of the design concepts for the original Xbox controller?

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia for Android Central, Windows Central's sister site. When not reviewing phones, he's testing PC hardware, including video cards, motherboards, gaming accessories, and keyboards.

  • They were Nintendo-like
  • What's the touch pad looking thing on it though?
  • It's not a touch pad, it's the window opening for the VMU unit's LCD screen (that little rectangular Gameboy looking thing at the top left). The VMU unit is a cross between a memory card for saving game progress and a portable game machine - you can download minigames from the main game (like smartphone companion apps of today) and play it on the VMU on the go and unlock items and stuff for the main game when you dock it back into the controller.  Also when docked in the controller the VMU's screen acts as a secondary display which can display info, like the WiiU controller concept. It's quite a novel design which was ahead of its time and the Sega Dreamcast invented it.  
  • Ah the dreamcast that was such an awesome console.
  • It's got a mix of a few classic designs but the most influence is definitely Dreamcast and a bit of Sega Saturn in the mix - the 6 face button and circular D-pad is a dead give away from the Sega Saturn design.  The VMU is unmistakenablely Sega Dreamcast. The dual analog stick is from the PlayStation DualShock, the top one even just looks like the Dreamcast controller flipped 180 degrees.  Finally the LR gun-like triggers came from the Sega Saturn's Nights special analog controller, which was developed more or less in parallel or even predated the N64 controller, the least influence is actually Nintendo, which is not so surprising considering that Nintendo used to hold a few controller-related patents such as the cross-shaped d-pad.
  • Inspired by Sega Dreamcast.  Not at all Nintendo like.
  • I have a MS Sidewinder it looks like this.
  • Too bulky, just like the actual Xbox controller they landed on.
  • You have a pair of them Trump hands?
  • I find XBox controllers more ergonomic than PS controllers.
  • Ahhh, 2 tugs of the heart strings from this article, 1. Paying homage to my personal fav console ever(and highly underated), the Dreamcast. 2. Seeing Jack from the Power Stone series(one of the best multiplayer action/adventure games ever), why won't Capcom remaster this game, I happily pay for a PS1&2 HD remaster package and I mean happily. Through in online modes and you got a winner.
  • Because Capcom doesn't know what they're doing. A powerstone remake is a no brainer
  • They re-released them on the PSP, which is perhaps the worst platform to put that series on. Especially 2. I can't imagine how you could even see anything.
  • What a thing of beauty.
  • Dreamcast all the way, but they fixed the odd cable placement! I guess that makes a lot of sense given the relationship between MS and Sega back then. I believe the Dreamcast was powered by Windows CE so they obviously worked closely together.
  • Yup, it was powered by CE.
  • Yep, Peter Moore(remember him) was formerly of Sega. Joined MS and continued the ground work he started with the Dreamcast to make XBL. His ties with Sega meant Xbox got Shenmue 1&2.
  • Love the Design. For me the DC was a head of its time in many ways and you could tell SEGA worked with MS on the DC. I would of loved to seen this in a real world just to see how it compared to the original xbox controller. For me it was ok but the S version was far better and what made the 360 and xbox one controllers what they are today.
  • The first game i ever played on my cousin's dream cast was Shenmue. It was only for 15 minutes, however those 15 minutes have had a profound effect on me throughout my life as such i've never forgotten it. The awe and amazement of a interactive world combined with a spine tingling soundtrack. The xbox controller will always remind me of the dreamcast controller.
  • Yes super well ahead of its time
  • Shenmue will forever be at the top of my list for greatest game ever. It's just a shame for Sega that this master piece of a game cost them so much. Hopefully number 3 will see the light of day be it on PS4/Neo or hopefully on Xbox too.
  • The LCD was welcomed I loved that about the Dreamcast could play sports games and have your plays in your hands I thought that was genious 
  • The X-Wing one to me looks more inspired in the Naboo N1-starfighter than the X-Wings... Which would make sense considering the time period in which it was envisioned. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • They had to take a lot from the Dreamcast being that they intended on asking Sega to allow them to run Dreamcast games on the Xbox in addition to Xbox games
  • The Xbox controller is in its third iteration, ---------------------------------------------------------------- Actually it's the 4th iteration, if we remember there were both a "Duke" and an "S" controller for the 1st Xbox.
  • Looks alot like the Sega Dreamcast controller.
  • Straight up Dreamcast! I loved my Dreamcast...Uh Capcom needs to release PowerStone for the Xbox arcade collection ASAP!
  • These were so bad, you can clearly see the Sega inspiration with button layout and vmu. They've come a long way! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Man this brings me back to my Sega Dreamcast days, awesome and super underrated.
  • These are neat.  I'm happy Nintendo's D-pad patent expired so we can have the awesomeness of that innovation baked into the Xbox One controller.