It's like glimpsing into a world that could have been.
"I am the ghost of Christmases-That-Never-Happened Past. Specifically, the Christmas of 1991." (via reddit)
Behold, the Nintendo PlayStation. You read that right. The Nintendo PlayStation. Well, it could also have been the SNES-CD, but you get the point. Instead of being rivals, Nintendo and Sony almost teamed up to revolutionize the video game industry before the then-dominant Nintendo arrogantly let the deal fall apart. In 1994, the Sony PlayStation debuted and took over the industry, and Nintendo has never again held the #1 slot. Only 200 prototypes of this system were made, and all were thought to have been destroyed. (The prototypes were made by Sony, which is why their name is all over it despite being a joint venture.) That is, until this system was discovered by Dan Diebold in the attic of his father, Terry Diebold, a former maintenance man for the Advanta Corporation—a bank holding company that went under in the Great Recession.
The last CEO of Advanta was Olaf Olafsson, a former Sony Entertainment executive. Olaf Olafsson had apparently been toting around this priceless piece of machinery since 1991. When Advanta went bankrupt in 2009, Dan Diebold told Polygon, the company "ordered my dad to throw a bunch of shit out." Terry Diebold, however, is apparently a bit of a packrat. "He kept a bunch of stuff from there. My dad has tons of old systems and shit. He keeps everything."
This is what traveling through time and causing alternate universes must feel like.
Dan posted these pics and this video to Reddit, and the reaction there was...strong. In between drooling nerdgasms, they mainly wanted him to avoid ruining it by plugging it into the wall without a specially-adapted cord (currently, he does not have the original cord, so if he's not careful he might fry it). Others are drooling over how much money he could make (and messaging him to try and buy it), whereas some feel very strongly that:
Dan and Terry Diebold will probably try to find a buyer for it. As Dan says, "I'm sure my dad would think about selling it because he's pretty broke." That seems like a good reason. He could probably make a lot of money. How much money?
A LOT OF MONEY.
THIS ISN'T EVEN MY FINAL PRICE. (via)
Back in January, I wrote about an eBay auction for a copy of the NES game Stadium Events, the most expensive video game collector's item out there. It goes for about 40 grand a pop. And that's a game. A game where multiple copies (but very few) are known to exist. This is the only known Nintendo PlayStation. In the world. At all.
IT'S A SUPERDISC, SUPERDISC, IT'S SUPER DISCY. (via reddit)
Granted, there are no games to play on it (except for the unmarked demo cartridge you see in the picture, and a CD that Diebold assures us is in the attic somewhere), but there's no way this doesn't go for at least as much, if not more. Maybe Nintendo would want to buy it back to feature it in their gaming museum in Rockefeller Center. Probably not, though, since it represents the time they gave up their leadership of the industry.
Some more backstory.
The greatest mystery to hit Reddit since the safe. (via reddit)
In 1988, Nintendo approached a Sony engineer named Ken Kutaragi, who (without really consulting his superiors) agreed to design a 16-bit sound chip for the SNES. Sony executives were initially pissed at Kutagari who signed a deal with Nintendo, but a) they thought he was really smart, and b) figured it would be easier to enter the video game market with the cooperation of the dominant company in the industry rather than enter as a total newcomer. In 1991, Kutagari again went rogue and started a project with Nintendo to design game technology based on then-new compact discs (CDs, kids...sigh, they're like DVDs but worse...and DVDs are like Blu-Rays but...nevermind). The project was called PlayStation. Again, Sony execs went along.
Then, at the 1991 Consumer Electronics Show, Nintendo humiliated Sony by publicly (and without warning) announcing that they would team up with Philips to create a new CD-based system. They thought Philips had a superior technology, the CD-i. If you've heard of that technology, it's probably because you read about it in some article about the biggest technology flops of all time. The Philips CD-i system is mostly remembered for its legacy of almost ruining The Legend of Zelda with the god-awful cartoon version Nintendo stupidly licensed to Philips. Making awful decisions was kind of Nintendo's "thing" in the mid-90s.
The furious Sony team went on to create the PlayStation, which debuted in 1994. The advantages of discs over cartridges were immediately apparent, even when Nintendo released the graphically superior Nintendo 64 in 1996. PlayStation games could have incredibly long plots by using multiple discs. This was one of the reasons, besides Nintendo's arrogance again, that role-playing game makers like Final Fantasy's Squaresoft abandoned Nintendo for Sony. Every Nintendo game had to be stored on the very limited cartridge memory, and thus also couldn't hold the "cinematic cutscenes" that, for better or worse, have been a staple of gaming since the PlayStation's debut.
So, what's the moral of the story?
1. Never throw out video games or video game systems.
2. Don't dick over your business partners.