Collectors cast 57 bids for the prototype that was offered at the auction on March 5-8. With 20% premium added, it sold for $360,000 (£230,000).
As all pre-production models were thought to have been destroyed when the Sony-Nintendo partnership folded, the existence of this dual-branded prototype was once deemed a myth.
In fact, what the auctioneers called ‘a pivotal piece of video game history’ had been kept by Olaf Olafsson, the founder and first president of Sony Computer Entertainment. As the story goes, it followed Olafsson to his next role at Advanta Corporation and later formed part of an auction of office contents that followed the firm’s bankruptcy filing in the late 90s.
The prototype (with a handwritten label with a rubbed date for 1992) shares many outward similarities with what would become the Super Nintendo and the Sony PlayStation. However, in addition to a slot for game cartridges, is a CD drive that can play disc-based media at the same time. At the back of the console are a standard series of plug-in ports plus an additional socket (its purpose unknown) simply labelled ‘Next’.
The controller assumes a design that will be familiar to many but the branding sets it apart. Instead of Nintendo ‘Sony PlayStation’ is boldly emblazoned on the front while the Nintendo logo appears to the back.
The two Japanese companies worked together on the project, tentatively titled the Nintendo PlayStation, from 1989. However, the relationship famously soured when Nintendo entered into a separate partnership with electronics giant Philips and Sony later decided to launch the PlayStation on its own.