Before Sony got into the console game, they had a couple interesting almost-was situations that led to the company ultimately pursuing their own console, now a huge part of their business.
At one point, Sony and Nintendo were partnered up working on the SNES-CD and even showed the original Play Station (with the space) at CES. Eventually, Nintendo decided not to move ahead with that, much to Sony’s surprise when they announced a partnership with Philips at CES.
But a lot of work was done, including prototypes. Now, Imgur user DanDiebold has uploaded a gallery of images of one of those prototypes, complete with CD drive, cartridge slot, and a very familiar-looking controller with an unfamiliar logo on it. It’s a rare look at one of those weird moments that no one at the time could’ve guessed would be a forking of history. In one timeline, we have Sony and Nintendo teaming up, becoming an even more dominant force in the industry. In the other timeline, Nintendo shuns Sony.
Sony then goes to Sega of America, whose president Tom Kalinske is deeply interested in what Sony is working on. History forks again and Sony teams up with Sega. We end up with the Nintendo Wii U, the Microsoft Xbox One, and the Sega PlayStation 4. But that didn’t happen, either, as Sega of Japan had a much less powerful, more difficult to work with console in development that they wanted to use. So Sony was, again, shunned. In response to the two middle fingers they were given, they turned around and raised both. Kaz Hirai had to sneak the original PlayStation past executives, but he managed it, and now we’re at the PlayStation 4, one of the best-selling consoles, because the hybrid console above, the SNES CD, never happened.