If you are interested in such things, you can buy a 1990s Sony Play Station via Heritage Auctions. We’re sure this will have caught your interest, after all it’s not every day you get the chance to catch such a machine. But before you call us out for seemingly reporting the news of an unremarkable sale featuring the runaway success story of 1990s gaming, take a look at the first sentence again. This is not a PlayStation, the ubiquitous grey console of the 1990s, but a Play Station, said as two words rather than one. This ill-fated collaboration between Sony and Nintendo was intended to be an SNES with a CD-ROM drive, but the project faltered and all that remained was the almost mythical tale of a few prototype consoles.
So far there has only been one of these devices that has surfaced, and this is the machine in the auction. So what seemed as though it might be a mundane console turns out to be one of the rarest machines ever created, a true Holy Grail of console collecting.
This machine has a known provenance, and has appeared on these pages before. In 2016 Ben Heck did a teardown to reveal the combination of Sony CD drive and SNES motherboard, and by 2017 he had it working with some homebrew games. There was no official software produced for this console, so it seems the lucky purchaser may have only homebrew games with which to try their console.
At the time of writing the auction is standing at $57,600, and we’d expect this to increase significantly. So you may not have the chance to own the Play Station, but with such a rare machine it’s always worth noting its appearances. It’s also worth remembering that there was more than one of them produced, in fact when your scribe was working in the same industry in the 1990s a senior colleague talked about having been shown one during dealings with Nintendo UK a few years earlier. The machine on sale today may be the only one we know to have survived, but it’s a fair possibility that there are others still gathering dust in long-forgotten archive boxes or collections of gaming hardware junk. Keep an eye out, you might just find your own rarest console ever produced!
26 thoughts on “Ultra-Rare Nintendo Play Station Prototype Hits Auction Block”
the starting price should be shifted one, if not two decimal places to the left.
Maybe, apple 1 prototypes, I mean public betas, I mean the first production models, have only rabid apple fans bidding them up, this might have two separate fandoms waging wallet wars in the auction room.
Do you realize that your personal ideas about its value are totally irrelevant? If the buyer and seller agree on a price that is not in line with your ideas, so what? It just proves you are out of the loop.
Someone sounds awfully irate today. Anyways looks like there is a Sony/Nintendo version of “rabid apple fans” with a lot more money than sense.
>>Anyways looks like there is a Sony/Nintendo version of “rabid apple fans” with a lot more money than sense.
Of course there is. Are you surprised or something? Welcome to the world of people who A) have money, and B) want something rare.
Its a one of a kind prototype that is more or less the last physical proof of a deal gone awry that sparked one of the largest console franchises that essentially changed the gaming landscape. Belongs in museum, frankly.
Well, the current bid is now one decimal to the right, so apparently people think otherwise.
Get into a who meant what here, because if the point stays fixed and you move the number two decimals to the left, it’s the same as moving the point two decimals to the right.
I’m really glad nintendo stabbed Sony in the back and partnered with Philips instead to gift the world three excellent Zelda CDI games.
The specs on this prototype were pretty weak too, a joke compared to what the PSX eventually became.
This is probably less of a prototype of the final system than it is just a proof of concept in a business proposal.
I’m just waiting on the purchaser to put a RetroPi into it.
Actually… that’s not a bad idea!
No, I wouldn’t do that to the real prototype. We have 3d printers now. If you want something bad enough you can have it! A replica of this would make a great RetroPie case!
afaik the seller refused a previous offer of $1.2 million in favour of this auction. he thinks it will get him even more…
Meh, or he thinks that everyone should have a chance to get it. Auctions are not all about making the most money out of something. Auctions are also about selling something to the guy who wants it the most. You shouldn’t let money blindside you so much, it gives you a bleak outlook on the world. People have more motives than just money.
Sometimes, if an auctioneer starts bidding “too high”, no one bids, but if he drops the opening bid below what the seller said they “needed” for it, people get into bidding war and end up paying more than the “too high” bid that was rejected.
I’m a bit confused. The Article states
> “This is not a PlayStation, the ubiquitous grey console of the 1990s, but a Play Station, said as two words rather than one.”
But the controller and the console itself in the picture have “PlayStation” written on them.
Is there an invisible Unicode white-space in between there or what? ;-)
At the time the messaging was a bit confusing, with both names being used. Thus it’s referred to with the space as a differentiator.
A few years later when I was working with PSX game submissions, Sony were super-hot on the use of “play station”, and this machine was cited as the reason.
I was doing good to get $80 out of a PowerBook Duo 280 “Yeager” prototype and a Duo 230 engineering sample I had several years ago. They, along with the bog standard DuoDock, were paid for plus shipping cost and I’ve not seen hide nor hair of them on the web since.
The 280 prototype had a lid from a monochrome Duo 250 on it. How do I know what they were? Because the 280 had the factory printed labels on the bottom saying what it was, not FCC certified, not for resale etc. The 230 had no lables at all but did have stickers on the inside saying engineering sample and handwritten in sharpie on the frame was Glued and tested ground clips, with a date.
So if you know of those two it would be neat to know where they’ve been since 2003.
680×0 CPU prices were crazy for a decade or more after discontinuation, so maybe got gutted for an Amiga accelerator. :-D
Noooooo! That would be horrible! I did think about finding a 280c lid for the Yeager but not at the prices people wanted back then.
I did pretty good on them, the lot only cost me $10 from a guy who got them in a larger auction lot and shunned all things Macintosh.
“So you may not have the chance to own the Play Station”
That’s a bit condescending, isn’t it? I mean: you’re assuming that engineers don’t earn enough money for these kind of extravagances!
Ok, in my case it’s true. :) But surely there must be engineers who have excess money to burn? :P You’re making me doubt that I chose the right profession now!
I wouldn’t take offense. it’s some insight into the writers perspective of the world. Besides, statistically speaking most people aren’t wealthy or even wealthy enough to blow hundreds of thousands on what could be called art.
“In 2016 Ben Heck did a teardown to reveal the combination of Sony CD drive and SNES motherboard, and by 2017 he had it working with some homebrew games. ”
Well that’s one way to ensure scarcity.
Wow, $350k with 20 days to go. I hope Ben is offered a portion of the sale for all his work to get it running.
Reminds me of the HP-95C (calculator)
“The HP-95C was one of the later 90 series calculators meant to be introduced in 1977. After an initial production run of fifty or a hundred units (recollections vary), HP abandoned the model and it was never sold to the public. Most of the units were rounded up and destroyed”
(in my best Harrison Ford voice): “It belongs in a museum!”
Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)