It's not as clear cut as all that.

The Sony Playstation (1994) (aka PSX) was a grey box containing a dual speed CD-ROM drive* and a few custom chips that allowed polygons to be drawn on screen at a reasonable speed (at the punitive expense of resolution, colour depth, perspective correction, 2D performance, memory bandwidth and available RAM). Although its technical 'merits' dated rapidly, the Playstation became the best-selling games machine of all time. (Well, after the Game Boy.)

The Playstation was aided (moreso in Europe) by a lack of heavyweight competition (the Sega Saturn was technically superior but hobbled by hopeless marketing, some dodgy coin-op conversions and a prohibitive price tag). Sony seized upon the spending power of the 18-25 male demographic (who had largely progressed from the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo, neatly debunking the "Playstation brought gaming to the masses" myth), with advertising pushing the Playstation brand as opposed to the dodgy graphics.

This strategy, combined with some high-profile titles such as Resident Evil, Ridge Racer and (the execrable media whore) Tomb Raider, quickly established the Playstation as the de facto console gaming standard, and made 'Playstation' the accepted shorthand (among the stupid) for computer games in general (much like Nintendo had done in the 1980's).

There were very few genres that the machine could pull off convincingly (it could just- barely- manage a pseudo-3D fighting game), with coinops and the PC rapidly outstripping its capabilities, and no option to fall back on 2D genres. To compensate for this, vast amounts of money were poured into FMV-heavy RPGs (Final Fantasy VII), succeeding in whipping up a "phenomenon" among the easily-persuaded Japanese youth, with the multi-million unit sales of some titles leading many Western journalists (and gamers) to believe that these were somehow the "best games ever". (Wrong!)

Less well publicised was the extreme ease with which PSX software could be pirated, which undoubtedly had a positive effect on hardware sales. Compare Sony's strict stance on emulation to their lax take on piracy - although that hardware was selling at a loss in the early years, it must have been turning a tidy profit towards the end of the 1990's.

The runaway success of the PSX lead to Sony delaying the release of their 'next-generation' machine, the Playstation 2, as long as possible, and adding a backwards-compatibility feature to that machine. Sony still wring some life out of the Playstation in the form of the psOne. Although software releases have all but dried up for the machine, the extensive back catalogue ensures it is still commercially viable (just).

*Famously prone to breaking down very quickly, resulting in many Playstations being turned upside down to get them to boot.