The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, often called simply the 3DO, is a home video game console platform developed by The 3DO Company. Conceived by entrepreneur and Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, the 3DO was not a console manufactured by the company itself, but a series of specifications, originally designed by Dave Needle and R. J. Mical of New Technologies Group, that could be licensed by third parties. Panasonic produced the first models in 1993, and further renditions of the hardware were released in 1994 by Sanyo and GoldStar (now LG Corp).
Despite a highly promoted launch (including being named Time magazine's "1993 Product of the Year") and a host of cutting-edge technologies, the 3DO's high price and an oversaturated console market prevented the system from achieving success comparable to veteran competitors Sega and Nintendo. As a result, it was discontinued in late 1996, three years after its first release.
The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer was originally conceived by The 3DO Company, founded in 1991 by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins. The company's objective was to create a next-generation, CD-based video game/entertainment standard which would be manufactured by various partners and licensees; 3DO would collect a royalty on each console sold and on each game manufactured. To game publishers, the low US$3 royalty rate per game was a better deal than the higher royalties paid to Nintendo and Sega when making games for their consoles.
The 3DO hardware itself was designed by Dave Needle and R.J. Mical (designers of the Commodore Amiga and the Atari Lynx), starting from an outline on a restaurant napkin in 1989. Trip Hawkins was a long-time acquaintance of Needle and Mical and found that their design very closely fit his philosophy for architecture and approach, so he decided that "Rather than me start a brand new team and starting from scratch it just made a lot of sense to ... join forces with them and shape what they were doing into what I wanted it to be."
The 3DO Company lacked the resources to manufacture consoles, and instead licensed the hardware to other companies for manufacturing. Trip Hawkins recounted that they approached every electronics manufacturer, but that their chief targets were Sony and Panasonic, the two largest consumer electronics companies in the world. However, Sony had already begun development on their own console, the PlayStation, and ultimately decided to continue work on it rather than sign with 3DO.
According to former Sega CEO Tom Kalinske The 3DO Company was engaged in very serious talks for Sega to release 3DO. However, it was passed on by Sega due to concerns over cost. Panasonic launched the 3DO with its FZ-1 model in 1993, though Goldstar and Sanyo would later manufacture the 3DO as well. Companies who obtained the hardware license but never actually sold 3DO units include Samsung, Toshiba, and AT&T, who went so far as to build prototype AT&T 3DO units and display them at the January 1994 Consumer Electronics Show