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Many video game consoles have come and gone since the home video game console came around in the early 1970s. While some were runaway successes (Atari 2600 being the first), others have flopped miserably, not to mention a slew of other “what if?” consoles. One of those “what if?” consoles was an alliance between Sony and Nintendo to create a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Nintendo.

Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo were the hottest selling video game consoles in the early 90s. Nintendo was working on a CD-based add-on with Sony as early as 1988. Sony rolled out the prototype at the Chicago Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 1991, dubbing it the PlayStation. Nintendo severed its relationship with Sony in a very public manner and partnered with Philips instead. The result was the Philips CD-i, which was released in 1991 and was one of the first CD-based consoles. The console was poorly received and is now known as the console that produced the black sheep of the Mario and The Legend of Zelda franchises. Sony forged on with their CD-based technology and released the Sony PlayStation in 1994.

Only about 200 “Nintendo PlayStation” prototype consoles are rumored to exist, and one of them has resurfaced after more than 20 years in hiding. The owners of the prototype, father and son Terry and Dan Diebold, spoke about how they got their hands on one. “The company I worked for, Advanta Corporation, they filed for bankruptcy in 2009,” said the elder Diebold. “When they did that, we purged the buildings. What you do is you take pictures, you itemize, and then they had an online auction. And I had gotten into the auction myself because there were a few things I wanted to buy.”

The elder Diebold won what he bid for, but he didn’t know that the Nintendo PlayStation prototype was inside. “I opened up another box and inside was this puppy here [Nintendo PlayStation] with some games. I was shocked. There were also some plaques, some shoes, a tie. I was just shocked to see this there. I’m like, well this is neat. And I tried to find that [Nintendo PlayStation] online to see what it actually was, but there were no pictures or anything like that. So it’s been a tough road trying to find anything out about this, and in comes my son.”

The younger Diebold took to Reddit, where there was a thread on the TIL subreddit about the ill-fated Nintendo PlayStation project. He mentioned that he had a prototype, but no one believed him, so he posted several pictures of the console and tried to get it to work. However, the Diebolds were a bit hesitant to turn it on. “We were kinda afraid to. We didn’t want to be the guys that got a one-of-a-kind video game system and then fry it. We would be the most hated people on the planet,” the younger Diebold said.

The system, dubbed the “Super Disc,” was in working condition and they tried out the PlayStation demo disc and a Super Nintendo game, Super Bomberman 5. The Super Nintendo controllers worked with the machine, however, the audio and CD drive weren’t working and the debugging cartridge couldn’t detect the CD drive. They took it to Restart Workshop’s Daniel Cheung to find out what was wrong. The CD drive was receiving power, but it was also a prototype, meaning that some of the components hadn’t been finalized. Now, Redditors would have to believe the Diebolds’ claims.

“It’s definitely rare in the sense that I got to confirm its existence amid its controversy because word on the street is that this doesn’t exist. You can’t question it. It can’t be fake. And with Nintendo as part of this team, you just can’t discredit this,” Cheung said. Taking apart the console also confirmed that a third company was also involved: NEC, who made gaming consoles primarily in Japan. One NEC product, the TurboGrafx-16, made it to North American shores and was noted for its use of HuCards, a credit-card sized cartridge that was unique to the console.

As for the CD drive? Cheung said that it was probably disabled by the manufacturers. “It kinda looks like maybe they disabled it on purpose,” Cheung said. However, he couldn’t contain his enthusiasm about finding one of the rarest gaming consoles on the planet. “It’s still one of a kind and super cool.”

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