Xbox and the leak of its first console: the story of a leak and lies

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Xbox, we are publishing a series of files on Xboxygen that retrace the history of the brand, but we also share anecdotes about its construction. And it is thanks to the Xbox museum that we learn today some details about the fute of the project while it was not yet announced.

Preserving the secret that an Xbox console was in development at Microsoft

To learn more about the genesis of the first Xbox, we invite you to consult our Xbox dossier – part 1 which looks back on the history of the creation of the brand in its early days.

To bring out such a project, the teams had to work for months before the official announcement was made by Microsoft. And yet, rumors were already beginning to reach the ears of the press about a project at Microsoft with the code name “Xbox”.

Journalist Tom Russo, who worked for Next Gen magazine, recalls how he heard the news. He indicates that a friend of his called him to tell him about a conversation he had overheard. “You’re never going to believe what I just heard!” “. He then turned to his editor at the time, Chris Carla, to share what he had just learned. “Chris, Microsoft is building a game console”.

Tom Russo then explains that he wanted to protect his source and not name it, but that the information was reliable.

An internal leak from Microsoft

David Hufford, still at Microsoft, is convinced that there was a mole within the Microsoft team working on the Xbox project. He says he always tried to find out where the information came from and precise, without naming anyone, that he has fairly clear suspicions today.

Journalist Tom Russo knows he had gold in his hands with this information since no one was aware that Microsoft was making a video game console at the time.

David Hufford, tells how he had to improvise when the journalist Tom Russo called him to ask him questions. He replied that he would not comment, but was actually stunned to learn that someone outside knew.

[Je] Hang up the phone, go down the stairs where the engineering team was, and say “Oh my God, guys, I think they’re suspecting something.”

For his part, Wall Street Journal reporter Dean Takahashi (who wrote the book At the heart of Xbox) also knew that something was brewing at Microsoft. He says he called Seamus Blackley to talk to him about it. But the latter denied.

You know, if someone was working on something like this at Microsoft, I would know.

Tom Russo says he also called Seamus Blackley who answered him most calmly that he did not know what it was.

No, man, I don’t know what you’re talking about. What is the Xbox? What are you talking about ? I am the program manager for graphics at Windows. I am working on APIs for 3DFX video cards for Windows.

“I was lying to him”admits Seamus Blackley, who specifies that when the reporter called him, he was actually in a warehouse soldering the development kits for the Xbox.

Obviously, the Microsoft teams were not going to confirm that the giant responsible for Windows was secretly preparing a video game console. Today, the teams laugh about it, but back then the excitement of working on a new console was also putting the team under pressure.

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