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 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 us 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.