Bill Gates showed first Xbox prototype 20 years ago

Tuesday marks 20 years since Microsoft announced that it would compete with console makers such as Sony and Nintendo. On March 10, 2000, Bill Gates showed an Xbox prototype in the shape of a large x at the Game Developer Conference.

The original Xbox first came out in the United States on November 15, 2001, but more than a year and a half earlier Microsoft announced that the console would be coming. The company did this through CEO Bill Gates at the Game Developer Conference.

At the time of the presentation, the console was not ready. Bill Gates did show a prototype on stage, in the shape of a large X. At that time, the device was still called X-Box. The X is a reference to the use of DirectX and the internal codename DirectX Box that Microsoft used. The prototype has been in the Microsoft visitor center for a number of years.

The Xbox prototype Bill Gates showed – Photo: Graeme Boyd

Gates announced details about the specifications and operating system at the conference. It turned out that the console would run on a modified Intel Pentium 3 and would get a gpu designed by Microsoft and Nvidia. The console ran on an operating system based on the Windows 2000 kernel with DirectX added. The full presentation is on YouTube.

Now twenty years later, Microsoft is about to release its fourth-generation Xbox console. After the original Xbox, the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One followed. The latter also released the more powerful One X variant, but the consoles belong to the same generation. The Xbox Series X will be released at the end of this year, which will be twice as powerful as the One X.

Microsoft planned to give another presentation about Xbox during the Game Developer Conference this year, but because the conference has been canceled, this time it will be via a live stream. The presentation is next Wednesday.

Xbox presentation starts around 17:53