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Nintendo PlayStation Prototype's CD Drive Finally Reads Data

Hardware hacker Ben Heck gets the Nintendo PlayStation in working order after months of work.

This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.

Back in 2015, one of the rare Nintendo PlayStation prototypes was found in the attic of Terry Diebold. The hardware was the result of a failed collaboration between Sony and Nintendo to make a CD drive for the Super Famicom; Sony would eventually take the concept and create the first PlayStation. Only 200 of the prototypes were made and one survived. The only problem is the CD-ROM drive on the unit wouldn't read data.

Hardware hacker Ben Heckendorn has been able to get the CD-ROM drive on the fabled Nintendo PlayStation to work. It's been many months of work. Heck has been mapping out the system's motherboard and replacing a few components. In a new video, Heck admitted he doesn't really know why it's working now.

"I was working on this yesterday and the CD-ROM wasn't even detecting the disc," said Heck. "I came in this morning and jiggled the cables around and got ready to work on it some more, and all of a sudden it works. Did a magic elf come in overnight?"

Heck tested some audio CDs to ensure the drive was working and then burned some Super Nintendo homebrew games to CD to try them out. One called Super Boss Gaiden threw up an error message. Another, Magic Floor, operated fine for the most part, with a few visual glitches that were later fixed when Heck contacted the homebrew developer.

"They should really loan this to one of the emulator writers," said Heck. "The bootstrap code to load games needs to be tweaked now that programmers know how actual hardware works. Then they could make a perfect emulator, to make the games work."

So the system works. It doesn't particularly do much, because there were no games written for the Nintendo PlayStation. Even with homebrew, you're essentially running Super Nintendo games off a CD. But the prototype is fully working now. Heck said he'll return the working unit to the original owners at the Midwest Gaming Classic, where the non-working system was previously shown.

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About the Author
Mike Williams avatar

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor, USgamer

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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