The owner of the unbelievably rare, possibly unique prototype Play Station revealed the device is going to auction. Come February, someone is going to go home with a precious piece of gaming history.
In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, in the late 1980s, Nintendo and Sony worked out a deal to create a CD-based add-on to the upcoming Super Nintendo, as well as a hybrid cartridge/disc console that would have been called the “Nintendo Play Station.” Nintendo, however, worked out a more favorable partnership with Phillips, which it revealed at the same Consumer Electronics Show where Sony revealed the Play Station. High drama, to be sure, and a big “What if” moment for gamers.
There were only a few “Nintendo Play Stations” ever made, used as prototypes and demonstration tools for the brief period when the two companies were still attempting to deal. They were supposed to have been destroyed after the deal between the two companies fell through.
But in 2015, a prototype surfaced on Reddit. Most were ready to cry fake, but it turns out truth is stranger than fiction: former Sony executive Olaf Olafsson, who was in charge of establishing the relationship with Nintendo, apparently kept the device with him. He later brought it along when he became president of a credit card company called Advanta, which later went bankrupt. When Advanta’s assets went up for auction, a former maintenance man named Terry Diebold placed a winning bid of $75 on the lot containing the prototype. Dan Diebold, his son, later posted photos of the device on Reddit after learning what it was.
Diebold Sr, who has refused offers to sell the console before, said the main reason he’s doing so now is that travelling around to show the console off has become prohibitively expensive. As he told Kotaku: “I’ve put a lot of work into this by traveling with it and we have made nothing on it. Every trip that we… have taken with it has cost us money out of pocket.” He first revealed his intention to sell back in October, and now has gone forward with the auction so that the market can determine the price.
The bidding on the console begins on February 7. If you have money and want to try your luck for a piece of gaming history, you can find the landing page for the item on Heritage Auctions here. There’s no word on what it’s going to go for — but I find myself hoping that whichever deep-pocketed connoisseur wins donates it to the National Videogame Museum, where it belongs.