Budding video game historians will be aware that before Sony went it alone and released the first PlayStation back in 1994, they collaborated with Nintendo to produce a CD-ROM add-on drive for the SNES.
The system was officially announced by Sony during 1991’s CES, but never made it into production. The reason? Because Nintendo had been secretly working with Phillips on a similar system without Sony’s knowledge. The fallout from the, erm, falling out led to the eventual development and release of the first PlayStation, the Phillips CD-i, and some of the worst games to ever feature Nintendo characters. Seriously, I’m not joking. The entire affair is one of the most infamous examples of a video game company shooting itself in the foot, and is more than worthy of a dedicated feature of its own (the New York Times published this article when it happened).
While photographs of Sony’s prototype unit have been around for years now, it was thought that no actual physical units had ever made their way into the wild. But now it’s been confirmed that’s not the case:
The owner of the system, who goes by the name Dnldbld on assemblergames.com, says that he received the unit from his father:
My dad worked for a company, apparently one of the guys he used to work with, I think his name was Olaf, used to work at Nintendo and when my dads company went bankrupt, my dad found it in a box of “junk” he was supposed to throw out.
As for whether or not it works, that’s not currently known – Dnldbld has never actually hooked up the system. The fact that he hasn’t booted it up yet also means that Dnldbld has no idea what’s on the cartridge in the photo, or on the other cartridge and CD-ROM he says his father still has in his possession. Proof of aliens? A demo of an unreleased game? Or Bryan Adams’ Everything I Do (I Do It For You)?
With a little luck, we should find out today – Dnldbld says he’s going to attempt to find a compatible power adapter later today. Of course, that could mean it explodes; but we won’t know until he tries, essentially making it Schrödinger’s SNES for the time being.