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Platform Sony's 1970's Unreleased Gaming Console, Could've been the First Console Ever?

Bo_Hazem

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Kotaku: Sony Never Released This 1970s Console Prototype



If you thought the first video game console Sony made was the PlayStation, nope. It was just the first video game console Sony released.

Yes, before the PlayStation, before even Sony’s ill-fated collaboration with Nintendo, came this beauty. I’ll be honest, I’d never seen it until yesterday, when art/history site Video Games Densetsu posted a link to a very old Famitsu article that had a few pics of it (the machine was on display in Tokyo around 2004-2005).

It was a games console made by Sony, it used cards/cartridges, and...that’s about all anyone knows for sure about it. Simply labelled a “Prototype TV Game Machine”, it’s thought (there’s a Japanese write-up on the exhibition here) that the console dates all the way back to the 1970s, meaning that any games it would have played would have been relatively simple affairs.

With no controller, it’s speculated that the red (こたえ/Kotae, or ANSWER) and blue (すすめ/Susume, or PROCEED) buttons were how you actually played games. If that were the case, video footage or graphics would be displayed on the TV screen, and players would make selections (for answers, or decisions) on the console itself. And the giant wheel on the side? It’s assumed that would be for scrolling through stuff.



A few years back Famitsu asked Sony PR for more information on the console, but were told that specific details and stuff like the exact year the prototype was made were unknown. Which, along with the fact this prototype doesn’t bear a Sony logo, suggests it didn’t get very far off the drawing board.

All we do know for sure is that holy shit it looked beautiful. Like a Daft Punk helmet you’d plug into your TV. Like the Patron Saint of original Transformers. Like the most important piece of hardware on the bridge of the 70s BattleStar Galactica.

If anyone has ever seen or heard anything else about this, let me know! Otherwise, we can all just look at these pictures over and over and imagine a 20th century where the console wars turned out very differently.


Thanks to FranXico FranXico for the source!
 
Jan 19, 2006
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It has a much nicer aesthetic than most consoles of that era, but I couldn't imagine anyone enjoying the games if they were forced to use the four buttons on the front of the console to play them.
 
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Bo_Hazem

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Wow, that looks pretty cool, thanks for sharing OP :)

You're welcome!

It has a much nicer aesthetic than most consoles of that era, but I couldn't imagine anyone enjoying the games if they were forced to use the four buttons on the front of the console to play them.

I guess it was too primitive. No fancy jumping and running or so.

This also predates the Atari and Nintendo consoles, huh?

I believe so! Sony was destined to greatness in gaming.
 
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This also predates the Atari and Nintendo consoles, huh?

There's more info in the source Japanese article. It looks like the prototype is from 1976.

http://www.ne.jp/asahi/cvs/odyssey/videogames/sonyprototype/detail.html

This machine has choices in the button operation part, and it says "answer" and "recommendation", so when it comes to playing games, it can be said that this was still a quiz format . For example, prepare one video of the three-choice quiz, one video of the answer, and one video of the mistake, and play the quiz first, "Now, press the answer you think" Is displayed and paused. The player presses the button he / she wants, but it is linked to the fast-forward button. If he / she makes a mistake, he / she fast-forwards and displays the wrong video, and if the answer is correct, he / she plays it as it is. It's not as random as a horse racing game, and once you remember the correct route, you'll get bored of it, but I think it shouldn't have been bad for the education and training you'll write next.

Sounds neat. More along the lines of an interactive story than what we think of as a game today. Almost like a primitive version of Dragon's Lair.
 

nkarafo

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Magnavox Odyssey was released in 1972 but it wasn't using a CPU so i don't know if that counts.

Fairchild Channel F was the first console released that used a CPU in late 1976. So, if this prototype is also from 1976, it probably could be the first (assuming it uses a CPU).
 
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Aion002

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That's a pretty device for the time! Thank you for sharing it.

If Sony released it at that time it would fight with the Color TV-Game (1977) from Nintendo, things could be so different today.
 
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Kadve

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Technically, Sony did release a console prior to playstation . The intelligent Discman CD-I player from 1990.




Yea it wasn't meant for games, but it's apparently compatible with most CD-I ones (it doesn't support Mpeg decoding), so you could play on it if you wanted.
 
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Kadve

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Based on the buttons/layout. My guess would be that's It a Pong console. There was even a few of those around that took "cartridges ". (They didn't contain new games, just modifications to the built in one just like the Odyssey)

 
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If you thought the first video game console Sony made was the PlayStation, nope. It was just the first video game console Sony released.

SONY also brought out the CD-I in Japan, PS wasn't quite its 1st console. Also no doubt Tom Kalinske will take credit for the 70's prototype too and tell the world he asked SEGA Japan to work on it and could have beat Atari *rolleyes*
 
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Bo_Hazem

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Based on the buttons/layout. My guess would be that's It a Pong console. There where even a few of those around that took "cartridges ". (they didn't contain new games, just modifications to the built in one just like the Odyssey)




Is that the early PSVR though? :messenger_winking_tongue:
 
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This is the original source article translated from Japanese:

[Information source] Since it was held from 2004 to 2005, it was exhibited together with a prototype VTR camera in the "Various prototypes" corner of the "Soichiro Honda and Masaru Ibuka-Dream and Creation-Exhibition".

[Specifications / Data] Details are unknown as described in the text. It is not mentioned at all in the official pamphlet, and official information can only be obtained from the exhibition pop. The size is 280 x 135 x 370 mm, and it seems to be a cartridge type. The software and development year are unknown, and by the way, the SONY logo is not even included.

Well, the following is a complete guess. Looking at the Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun dated May 9, 1974, there is an article that Sony announced the MAVICA system, a video player that can record / play back with a magnetic card . MAVICA is known as the brand name of Sony's FDD digital camera, but this is its ancestor, which also records video and audio information on a magnetic card and is a TV receiver (when you look at the article photo, It is output to a general home TV). The magnetic card is B5 size.

 The method of setting the media to be inserted from the front, the air hole, the size, and the material all have a high synchronization rate. Probably, as an example of an applied product based on this first generation (?) MAVICA, this I feel that the "prototype video game" was made.
  Two years later, at the end of 1976 , Sony exhibited a video game that works with VTR at the Electronics Show '76, and since there are only four buttons on this operation unit, it is somewhat unlike this prototype game. There is no such thing. Therefore, it may be possible to estimate that the development period is from 1974 to 1976 .
  This magnetic recording / playback method is basically the same as the equipment released by Ricoh as "Mighty Teacher" at the same time. However, in the case of MAVICA, it is a two-layer system, and it was possible to put images on one side.

 Next, let's assume it's a game system. If it were based on the 1974 MAVICA system, it could be played and cued like a cassette tape, but it did not have the arithmetic and storage circuits of a computer, so this is what we usually imagine. It seems that it was not a video game that manipulates digital objects, but a video game in the sense of controlling analog images, so to speak, a game played with a video remote control.
 The first thing that comes to mind when it comes to video games that play with video is the mid-1980s video games that use LD and VHD, but this system, which would not have been randomly accessible, is simpler and more static. I think it was a great game.
 In 1975, there was a serial video horse racing game like Nintendo EVR, and a "game record" where you can randomly change the position where you drop the needle and enjoy the prediction. In an era when complicated systems could not be made cheaply, many kinds of stories were prepared in advance, and light randomness was added to enjoy the game.

 This machine has choices in the button operation part, and it says "answer" and "recommendation", so when it comes to playing games, it can be said that this was still a quiz format . For example, prepare one video of the three-choice quiz, one video of the answer, and one video of the mistake, and play the quiz first, "Now, press the answer you think" Is displayed and paused. The player presses the button he / she wants, but it is linked to the fast-forward button. If he / she makes a mistake, he / she fast-forwards and displays the wrong video, and if the answer is correct, he / she plays it as it is. It's not as random as a horse racing game, and once you remember the correct route, you'll get bored of it, but I think it shouldn't have been bad for the education and training you'll write next.

 Now next is the target of the machine. In the case of the MAVICA system, it seems that there was also a use for playing short clips such as promotional videos because a picture that seems to be an artist is shown in the article, but when it comes to aiming for the field of home video game consoles, children's education ForI think that was the most likely. The "answer" and "recommendation" of the selection buttons are hiragana, the similar Ricoh Mighty Teacher was for education, and Sony founder Mr. Ifuka, as he himself was. , I want children to be interested in the field of science, for example, the year after the release of the blockbuster transistor radio "TR-55", the assembly radio for children was released as early as possible, and cards for early childhood education. Educational initiatives, such as developing the "Talking Card System", a type player, are well known.

However, even though it is a video game, it does not seem to be "home use" in this era. In Japan at the time of 1974, the market for household VTRs was still in a state before it became widespread, so there was a commercial VTR market as a preliminary step to the development of the household market for electronics manufacturers, and its sales destinations were mainly companies. It seems that it was for education and training, so it is possible that it was thought to sell it as a system that allows you to learn while operating in such areas . It seems that vocational training schools and public facilities, such as video materials in libraries, will come out as options.


  [Reason why it was not released] It is completely unknown at this time. This "various prototypes" group of commentary pops take a long time, as examples of factors that weren't released : those that hit a technical wall and disappear into the corner of the warehouse, those that were too far ahead of the times. Something that came out in the world was mentioned as an example.
 
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GreyHorace

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That's a revelation. Never would have guessed that another Japanese company aside from Nintendo was already developing a videogame console, least of all Sony.
 
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RoadHazard

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Based on the buttons/layout. My guess would be that's It a Pong console. There where even a few of those around that took "cartridges ". (they didn't contain new games, just modifications to the built in one just like the Odyssey)


The font in that image of one of the most unreadable things I've ever seen.
 
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