In the late 1980s, when Nintendo was developing the Super Nintendo, they collaborated with Sony on a powerful sound chip for the console. This chip was a whole new way of synthesizing music and sound on a video game system, and it really helped the Super Nintendo stand out against its competition.
The next step in this collaboration was adding CD capabilities to the Super Nintendo. This took two forms: an add-on drive that would plug into existing systems, and a combination device that could play both cartridges and the new CDs. Sony built a few hundred prototypes that they called the PlayStation. However, because the two companies couldn’t come to an agreement on shared license fees, the project fell apart and all the prototypes were recalled and destroyed, with Sony moving on to build another PlayStation that was a little more successful.
In 2015, one of these “Nintendo PlayStation” prototypes was found - possibly the only one that still exists. It was purchased in a blind auction of equipment from a bankrupt company that had been run by a former Sony executive. This system plays Japanese Super Nintendo games perfectly, and after some repair could even play CD games – if any existed.
The system is extraordinary as an artifact of an alternate reality. Super Nintendo controllers that are emblazoned with the PlayStation logo, with both Nintendo and Sony branding all over the console, and a big power button that looks just like the one on the PlayStation we eventually got.
The console goes to auction soon, and it could sell for just about anything. The owner reportedly recently turned down a $1.2 million offer from a private collector. I just hope the new owner is as happy showing it off as its current one — this machine belongs in a museum.