ArsTechnica reports that the Strong National Museum of Play have obtained a floppy disk containing id Software’s original Super Mario Bros 3 PC demo.
Andrew Borman, the museum’s Digital Games Curator, mentioned that the disk was a part of a larger donation set given to the museum by an unnamed software developer. The developer themselves had not worked on id’s Super Mario 3 pitch, however had obtained the disk elsewhere.
The demo was proven to exist by John Romero himself in December 2015, who shared the story on a video on Vimeo (watch the video on Vimeo to read the description and back story):
Prior to the “id Software” name, the company was called “Ideas from the Deep”, or IFD. They’d pitched Super Mario Bros 3 directly to Nintendo of Japan, and despite Nintendo being impressed by the idea, they unsurprisingly shut it down. Not all was lost of course, as id went on to make their own MS-DOS based platformer games in the shape of Commander Keen.
However despite all of this being on record, the demo was never released, formally or otherwise. The Museum has mentioned that they will make their copy available to researchers on request, however I suspect it’s highly unlikely that the actual binary will ever be made public. Hopefully the museum includes remote digital copies of their assets, as we’ve seen the devastating effect that disasters like fire can have on rare or one-of-a-kind media, such as what happened in 2008 to Universal Music Group’s enormous collection of music masters.
For more screenshots of Andrew Borman’s investigations into the title, click the Ars Technical link above. And if the museum’s game research and preservation efforts are of interest to you, definitely worth your time to follow Andrew Borman on Twitter, who always posts plenty of interesting information about his work, as well as checking out the museum’s main website: