Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One in May 2013, just ahead of that year’s E3. But one customer had unwittingly seen the console in real life before the rest of the world even knew it existed — and he’d had it hooked up to his TV, as he told Business Insider.
The publication recounts Jia Li’s story from March 2013, when an attempt to buy a new Microsoft laptop nabbed him an actual Xbox One prototype instead. Although the black-and-white tape may throw off today’s Xbox One owner, it was the game system, alright, evidenced by what appeared on-screen when Li plugged it in.
Microsoft didn’t ship him a controller, Kinect or any of the other fixings, but the power brick and AV cables arrived with Li’s console. The word "Kryptos" showed up when the system was on; that was allegedly a codename for the hardware when it was in development.
How Li ended up with the Xbox One before Microsoft had even unveiled it to the world is weirdly simple, Business Insider explains. The company, eager to keep the hardware under wraps until it was ready for the world to see, stored Xbox One beta systems in a Microsoft shipment facility. They weren’t meant to be sent out to people, of course, but some error or another led to Li becoming the world’s first Xbox One owner, at least for a short while.
"After some negotiations, Mr. Li and Microsoft made contact," according to Business Insider. "In March 2013, a Microsoft representative arrived at Mr. Li's house and retrieved the prototype Xbox One."
There’s a happy ending here, though: Li received an Xbox 360, still relevant back then, along with the laptop he wanted all along.
Years later, the Xbox One is no longer the hottest model of Xbox on the market. There’s the Xbox One S, a smaller, HDR-ready version of the console, and Project Scorpio is coming to retail next holiday season.