• Posted on: 5 August 2012
  • By: Corey

I didn’t know that 2 months into owning my new beloved PSP that I would initiate a process that could literally destroy it. But here I was in my bedroom, palms sweating, ready to unleash the beast lying dormant inside my Play Station Portable. I followed the directions to a tee and after a few failed attempts (which were common) I had a PSP with the firmware version 1.5. I let out a sigh of relief happy that my investment didn’t explode.
I wiped the sweat off my brow, took a deep breath and I loaded up the Nester J Nintendo Emulator on to the memory stick. Of course all along I’m thinking to myself that this will never work but I turned on the PSP and couldn’t believe it. In the GAME column was the icon to start the emulator. I launched the program and waited through the brief splash screen. By now my heart is racing. I chose Super Mario Brothers from the list and bingo, up pops a near perfect replica of the Nintendo Entertainment System and its classic game ready to play. Mario did everything exactly the way he would on a physical Nintendo Entertainment System. The 8-Bit console had been converted into a line of code and was being played on a device some 20 years it’s senior. It was surreal.
That was the first day of the next three years of my life.
Getting my PSP to do everything under the sun was my lifes mission. I missed work, social gatherings and a host of other things because I was hooked on my gadget. I even fried my computers motherboard (thank God my friend had the exact same mobo which he wasn’t using because my addiction knew no bounds) because I was downloading so much content. I dove into the emulator scene headfirst. I was a hacker. I had crossed the line and there was no turning back. I had knowingly circumvented the counter-piracy measures contained in the system to get my PSP to run unsigned code.
If my little gizmo could run Nintendo Emulators, what else could it do? Finding the answer to this question led me into the magical and altruistic world of the Homebrew Community. I had no idea that people the world over who write code as a hobby collaborated with each other via the internet to make and distribute software programs. And what do they ask for in return for the countless hours spent performing this mind numbing task, virtually nothing. It still warms my heart to know that in this ultra capitalist society that there exists a subgroup that creates entertaining and useful applications and gives them away for free.
It’s hard to overestimate all of the things I learned in the process of modifying the PSP. I had to find about hex-editors, exploits and the process of reverse engineering. The greatest skill that I learned was troubleshooting. Any self taught techie can tell you that problem solving is the best way to learn the nuances of a computer. The PSP put me in touch with information and procedures that I would have not found otherwise. I owe my competency on the computer to the hours I had to spend on it getting my handheld to do way more than originally intended. I even teach a course on computer literacy.
I sort of roll my eyes today when people rave about how many Apps their smart phone can run. The PSP was doing that and a whole bunch more years ago. I was reading novels on my PSP five years before the advent of the Kindle/e-book because someone had wrote a text/PDF viewer. Someone wrote a universal remote that allowed your PSP to manipulate almost any TV or VCR. Of course I would use this to freak my friends out, “dude look the TV is changing channels by itself!”
I had to omit a lot of my great experiences on the PSP dude to the sheer volume. I plan to address some of the other epic moments from my career as a modder of PSP’s in later submissions. When I bought a Play Station Portable in 2005 I knew I was getting a quality console, I didn’t know it would change my life forever.