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The early 1990s was an interesting time frame for video games in the home. While we still had the 8-bit consoles like the NES running strong, the newer 16-bit consoles like the Super NES and Sega Genesis were starting to make a name for themselves in their own right. In addition, the somewhat new CD-ROM technology was finally starting to become more affordable, and this also made it’s way into the home in the form of game consoles and computers. One of the biggest curiosities in the video game world was an unreleased device called the “SNES-CD”, which would have been a CD-ROM based system that was compatible with Super Nintendo cartridges, and quite possibly would have also doubled as what we know as a typical PlayStation 1. While never released to the public, recently a prototype model of the console has been discovered, with a variety of photos from the owner that were shared online.

(Editor’s Note: We have listed this currently as part of our “rumor mill” series for the sole reason that while this very well could be an official item, it has not been fully authenticated to our personal satisfaction at this time.)

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Nintendo’s interest in the CD-ROM format actually started around 1988, when behind the scenes, they were not only already working on the Super Famicom, but interested in having the CD-ROM technology be an add-on device, which would later be used for other future consoles like the Sega Genesis and Atari Jaguar. After about 3 years of development, Sony introduced a standalone console at 1991′s summer Consumer Electronics Show called the “Play Station” (two words in the prototype phases.) Originally, the system was slated to be compatible with SNES cartridges, but would also be compatible with the “SNES-CD” format. The next day however, Nintendo revealed its partnership with Philips by making a formal announcement at CES 1991. Licensing disagreements with Sony are what made Nintendo switch partnerships to Philips to produce the peripheral. This device would also not come into play, however the second agreement would allow Philips to create titles using Nintendo characters for it’s own home entertainment system, the CD-i.

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Earlier last year, a variety of private classified documents made it’s rounds through the internet, which offered some insight about what the “SNES-CD” was to be. According to these documents,  the system would use a CD-ROM disc that was enclosed within a plastic N-Disc caddy. (For those that remember when CD-ROM drives first became available for home users in the 80s and early 90s, for use remember CD caddies. This however seems to be a permanent attachment to the disc itself, in a sort of pre-Minidisc aspect. (For those unaware, Minidisc was a short lived audio format from Sony that used a CD cased in what looked like a 3.5″ floppy disc for protection.) This new found document also states that the SNES-CD would take advantage of a special cartridge that would have to be inserted into the SNES system itself to boot the CD.

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Which brings us to the supposed prototype that has been all the buzz online today. It appears that this prototype had turned up thanks to Imgur user “DanDiebold”, who apparently received the item from his father. He has stated:

“My dad worked for a company, apparently one of the guys he used to work with, I think his name was Olaf, used to work at Nintendo and when my dad’s company went bankrupt, my dad found it in a box of ‘junk’ he was supposed to throw out”. 

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When he states “Olaf”, it is possible that this is a reference to Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson, who was the original co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Sony Interactive Entertainment. With this in mind, if this device is in fact the real deal, it appears that it could have been owned at one time by the creator of the unit.

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Only about 200 of these consoles were said to have ever been made and all of them were ordered to be destroyed. Never before seen and original photos offer the first ever clear visuals of the console, yellowed thanks to age, which combines the look and feel of both the Nintendo Super NES and the Sony PlayStation. We now have a view of all sides of the console, including the output jacks and other jacks found on the back of the system.

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However one interesting thing to note, is that this design is completely different from what we learned about last year. (It is known that alternate versions had possibly existed, with the CD-ROM segment being both an add-on to the original SNES, as well as the entire device being it’s own system.) Plus, the design of the CD-ROM mechanism appears to be different here. The documents that were discovered last year indicate a “caddy” style CD-ROM (closer to the Minidisc format), while this version appears to be a tray style drawer. Aside from the system itself, a closeup of the controller, which looks exactly like a Super NES controller, but with “Play Station” branding, has also been shown in the photos shared. In addition, a single CD-ROM disc and cartridge have also been found. (It is assumed at this time that the cartridge would act as a boot ROM to access the CD-ROM segment of the console.)

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There is however one thing that is a shame, and that is that the device does not have a power supply. The owner of the system is worried to open the device up, or use a third party adapter to have the item turned on, so right now there is no indication that this item is functional. The owner has stated that he is planning to find the original power supply if possible, to get the device to run.

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Please note: We have currently listed this article as part of our “Rumor Mill” as opposed to making it official. In this day in age, it is very possible that this entire story could be a hoax. (In fact, it was stated at one time that it was perhaps a fake, but then retracted.) We sadly live in a world where it is very easy to create things of this nature to have people turn heads in wonder. The fact that no power supply is available makes it unclear that it is a real item, and while the owner of the system has put up a video showing the device, the video is of poor quality (blurred at times of importance.) So until we can confirm the authenticity of this SNES-CD prototype, we will keep it as a rumor for now, and will definitely keep everyone up to date!

Original Source: Games Radar

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