PlayStation Digital Controller (PS1, 1994)
PlayStation Dual Analog Controller (PS1, 1997)It's one of the most iconic controllers ever committed to production. The 'Digital' controller, as it was known at the time, was the gamepad Sony used to launch the PlayStation brand back in 1994. Released alongside the PlayStation, you can still see echoes of Sony Computer Entertainment's Teiyu Goto's original design in the pad as it exists today. With its distinct shape and iconic Triangle, Circle, Cross, and Square buttons, the gamepad is as much a reflection of the PlayStation brand as Kratos or Nathan Drake. Of course, its d-pad and reliance on four primary face buttons is indicative of the era, and similar in scope to the SNES controller (no surprise, given that the PlayStation started life as a prototype SNES CD-ROM expansion), and it has certainly stood the test of time. The Digital Controller ran from 1994 through to 1997, with only minor alterations made along the way, although it was discontinued towards the end of the console's lifecycle to make way for the first major iteration on its design.
As the scope of PlayStation's games library continued to grow, so too did the ambition of Sony's engineers. Released in early 1997, the Dual Analog controller was an experiment of sorts – the first official handheld analog controller for the PlayStation – that arrived as Sony attempted to introduce new ways to play. The addition of two analogue sticks to the pad was designed to give players more freedom over movement, the camera, and control as developers started to explore the realms of 3D game design. The 'Analog' button beneath the Start and Select buttons would toggle the controller's 'Flightstick' functionality on and off, should a game support the improved directional input it offered. Its larger shape and longer shoulder buttons would be returning form factors, and it wouldn't be long before games outside of MechWarrior 2 and Colony Wars – two games among a select few that supported thumbstick control at launch – would support the new setup. Of course, the Dual Analog controller's life was short lived as yet another evolution appeared on the near horizon.
Here's how the PlayStation controller has changed between its debut in 1994 and the the new DualSense PS5 controller