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Nerd out with this 21-minute video of the supercomputer behind the Nintendo 64

How a huge computer inspired Nintendo

A Silicon Graphics enthusiast who goes by the handle “Dodoid” recently released an epic, 21-minute look at the SGI Onyx, an air-conditioner sized supercomputer that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars when it was released in the early ’90s. You can watch it at the top of this post.

It’s a fascinating video if you’re into niche platforms that most of us will never get to touch, but things get really interesting when Dodoid takes a brief look at the software that comes with the system.

One of the built-in graphical demos you see in the video is a 3D interface that launches other 3D interfaces, which was a pretty novel way of showing off your computational prowess at the time. You can see it in action below:


Does it look familiar? For reference, here is a menu from Super Mario 64:


So did Nintendo just rip off a design element from a hyper-expensive workstation back in the day? Not exactly; the Nintendo 64 itself was based on technology created by Silicon Graphics when the company was looking to expand its consumer-facing reach, and the Nintendo 64 development kit was — you guessed it — an Onyx.

Whether or not this fact is interesting to you will mostly be determined by your hunger for Nintendo trivia, but hopefully now whoever designed that graphical demo can get at least a bit of credit for their small place in gaming history.

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