The original Xbox prototype is alive and kicking

When Microsoft took to the Game Developers Conference in 2000 to drum up interest in the original Xbox, it used a prototype console that was, basically, a giant X.

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Bill Gates and Seamus Blackley unveiling the Xbox prototype unit at GDC 2000.

This prototype was used for the hardware reveal at GDC by ex-Microsoft boss Bill Gates and head of the Xbox project Seamus Blackley. Microsoft took this unit to trade shows and events such as GDC to help give developers an idea of what they’ve be working with and present demonstrations to press, despite it not offering the power the retail unit would.

According to Dean Takahashi’s book Opening the Xbox, each prototype unit cost $18,000 to manufacture because they were milled out of a solid block of aluminium. In a recent tweet, Seamus Blackley, one of the key players in Microsoft’s Xbox, said the prototype was a working unit.

Of course, when the original Xbox launched later in November 2001, its design had come on a long way from this prototype. But the prototype has lived long in the memory because of how ridiculous it looks.

We weren’t sure what happened to the prototype until Microsoft games marketing chief Aaron Greenberg tweeted a video of the unit in November 2016.

And now, the Xbox prototype has resurfaced at the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington. Xbox social marketing manager Graeme Boyd tweeted an image of the prototype housed in a glass case.

So, here’s to the original, outrageous, impractical but memorable original Xbox prototype. They don’t make them like they used to!

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