Dan Diebold woke up to a hangover and a lot of emails Friday morning, all of them asking about a series of pictures he posted on reddit of what seemed to be the unicorn of gaming history: a prototype of the never released Nintendo Play Station.
Only 200 of the consoles were said to have ever been made and all of them were ordered destroyed. But here it was, in a series of photos, the glorious, boxy grey machine sporting both a cartridge slot and a CD tray.
"I found it a couple of years ago," Diebold told me today in a phone interview. "My dad had it in his attic."
Diebold, who isn't a collector, but does play video games, said he left it with his dad in Philedelphia when he moved to Denver, Colorado. He asked his dad to send along pictures so he could post them, but the one, not-so-great photo his dad sent him wasn't very believable.
This week, Diebold flew back to Philly to celebrate the Fourth with family and decided to swing by his dad's house to dig up the old treasure and take some better photos. During my call with him, I asked him to shoot a video as well. Which he did and posted to YouTube. You can watch it below.
But how did his father stumble across such a legendary piece of gaming history?
Perhaps it was fate.
Terry Diebold, Dan's father, worked as a maintenance man at a company called Advanta Corporation from 2000 to 2009. As chance would have it, Olaf Olafsson, a then 35-year-old physicist and best-selling novelist, was the president of the company. Olafsson also happened to be the former CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, a unit of Sony created in 1991 to, among other things, create and bring to market the PlayStation. It was during Olafsson's time that Sony worked to establish a relationship with Nintendo to create a peripheral that would allow the Super NES to play CD games. The company also worked on creating a Sony-branded device that would play both SNES games and SNES-CD games.
A falling out at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1991 broke the companies apart, but not before 200 of the prototype Play Stations were created.
After leaving Sony, Olafsson went to work at Advanta. In 2009, Advanta filed for bankruptcy.
"He keeps everything."
Enter Terry Diebold.
"When they went bankrupt the company ordered my dad to throw a bunch of shit out," Dan Diebold said. "As he was cleaning out the rooms he found this box."
Inside, what appeared to be the prototype for the SNES Play Station.
"He kept a bunch of stuff from there," Dan Diebold said. "My dad has tons of old systems and shit. He keeps everything."
Dan says he hasn't tried turning the system on yet because its missing the power cord, but that he plans on buying a cord that will work with it soon to test it out. The system also has a cartridge and a CD. He has no idea what's on either.
As for the future of the system, Diebold says he's not exactly sure what he's going to do with it yet.
"At the moment, I don't know," he said. "I'm sure my dad would think about selling it because he's pretty broke."
He added that he's going to bring the console back with him to Denver and might have a friend who runs a retro game shop have a look at it.
- The prototype was found in a box of "junk" destined for the trash at a recently bankrupt company.
- The owner doesn't have a power supply, but plans to try and find one.
- The owner also has a CD and a cartridge, but doesn't know what's on either.
- That's almost familiar looking.
- The LCD under the control seems designed to display audio details.
- The prototype took both cartridges and CDs.
- No one knows what's on this mystery cart.