The Prototype Xbox (also known as the Big X) was the first variation of the Xbox to be revealed to the public.

The console was used as a showcase unit that would be shown to the press and Microsoft's partners[1].

History[edit | edit source]

During GDC 2000, Bill Gates Seamus Blackley revealed the Xbox's hardware to the public. During the conference the duo unveiled the Xbox Prototype. The design of the console was by no means the final product and was only used as a way to help give developers an idea of what they'd be working with, despite it not offering the power the retail unit would[2].

The units were brought along to various press conferences as showcase units. According to Seamus Blackley the units were transported from location to location in penguin cases[3].

The prototype was used at press meets throughout 2000, until more details including the final design of the Xbox would be revealed at CES 2001 by Bill Gates and The Rock.

Up until July 2018, the whereabouts of the Xbox Prototypes were unknown until Graeme Boyd, Xbox’s social media marketing manager, revealed to the public on Twitter that one of the prototype models would now be on display to the public at Microsoft's Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington.

Phil Spencer during the Xbox Series X|S launch event. An Xbox Prototype can be seen sitting on a shelf behind him.

Shortly after Graeme Boyd uploaded the image to his Twitter page, Seamus Blackley began giving more details about the prototype consoles including what they were used for and how they were transported.

On November 10, 2020 during the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S's launch livestream one of the Xbox prototypes could be seen sitting on a shelf in the background as various developers and Xbox employees talked about the new consoles launch.

Design[edit | edit source]

The Xbox Prototype was a huge silver X shape milled from a solid block of aluminum with a light in the center. The light would glow green when it was on and would stay dark when not being used.

The consoles disc drive, ventilation and other ports were stored on the back side of the console.

Because of the consoles huge size and being made out of a solid block of aluminum the prototypes reportedly cost $18,000 each to manufacture.

SideWinder[edit | edit source]

When the prototype was first show to the public in 2000, a Microsoft SideWinder Game Pad Pro could be seen with this console. This hinted at this controller being the main input for the Xbox.

However this was not true and was most likely used for development purposes, as the controller would go on to be used for PCs instead.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • In Dean Maharishi's book Opening the Xbox, Takahashi states that each prototype cost $18,000 each to make.
  • Several of these prototypes were made.
  • On November 16 2016, Xbox uploaded a video to their Snapchat account showing off one of the prototype consoles.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Reference list[edit | edit source]

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