Nintendo’s reneging of Sony in 1991 is one of the most dramatic stories in the video game industry’s history. It resulted in the creation of three video game system: the Super Nintendo, the Sony PlayStation, and the SNES PlayStation, a prototype that became fabled myth. The Ben Heck Show found one and got it working.
Not everyone in the electronics industry in the mid-to-late 80’s could see that video games were soon to be a booming market. Ken Kutaragi, a researcher for Sony, felt differently. He watched his daughter playing with a Famicom (what we know as a original Nintendo) and noticed the poor sound design. He was able to convince company higher-ups it’d be worthwhile to work with Nintendo, providing a better sound system for the upcoming Super Famicom (SNES).
Sony executives were worried that the less-respected video game market might tarnish their brand. But Kutaragi was able to expand his vision beyond a soundcard: Sony would build a proprietary CD-ROM unit for the SNES, adding processing power and speed. It could play both CDs and cartridges, with Sony getting the option to develop its own system later. Prototypes were built, booths at the 1991 Consumer Electronics Show were rented.
At CES ’91, Sony announced its PlayStation partnership with Nintendo. But prior to the event itself, Nintendo made a secret deal with Phillips, which offered the company its CD-i technology in a deal that offered the Japanese company control. Called a “betrayal” in the PlayStation Museum, the deal made Kutaragi and Sony president Norio Ohga furious. Kutaragi went to Ohga convinced that Sony should continue on its video game path, to which Ohga famously replied, “Just do it!”
The video above shows the only known prototype left out of the 200 or so that were built, a forgotten future. The PlayStation 4 is now Sony’s chief moneymaker, turning in impressive number greater than other divisions of the widespread company. And now, it’s weird ancient relative can play games again.