Microsoft launched the original Xbox ten years ago today, officially entering the video game console industry. Although it had a relatively small lifespan of roughly less than four years — the company ended production sometime around August 2005 — the console originally pitched as the "DirectX Box" laid the groundwork for several of the platform's most iconic elements like Xbox Live (debuted exactly one year later on November 15, 2002) and, of course, its launch title, Halo: Combat Evolved — you know, the game that caused academic grades across the nation to drop a sizable portion. The Xbox would end up selling over 24 million units worldwide, including 16 million in North America alone, which sounds mighty impressive until you remembers the dominant player at the time, Sony's PlayStation 2, would end up selling more than 153 million units.

For its part, Microsoft is celebrating with a free Xbox Live avatar prop. Big readers should check out part one and part two of Dean Takahashi's "The making of the Xbox." The console launched at $299.99 — over $370 after adjusted for inflation. Original Bill Gates announcement video and surprisingly somber Halo trailer are below.

Revisit the console wars: Xbox vs. Dreamcast vs. PlayStation 2 vs. GameCube