I think there was a window when it did let you get around color requirements. Check out the outdated text on the image Scryfall shows for the MED version:
No mention of "mana that could be used to pay for it," just CMC. So this seems to be a case like Oubliette, where the card was simplified at one point and then later recomplicated in order to get it closer to the original functionality. Observe the much more complicated current wording:
In any case it never let you pay less than the CMC, as even the Alpha version makes clear:
It's one of those great weird Alpha wordings, but it does say that you still have to spend the mana that the spell actually costs.
Very cool roundup, although if I can't write off old school as something I can't afford to play, I have no choice but to be disappointed that there doesn't seem to be a scene around here. These decks all look way more fun to me than the powered decks I've seen as well.
@moorebrother1 My opinion as a relative outsider (I have never played in a paper Vintage tournament) is that the format seems to be serving two masters right now. For a lot of people who play online or at the large events, or people who are picking up the format now because it's pretty accessible online, it's a competitive format, not too different from legacy or modern besides being higher-powered, that they want to brew and play within the same way as other formats. For a lot of people who play in local paper tournaments who have been bought in for a long time, it does seem to have more of a nostalgia component, and it does seem to be more about hanging out with friends, playing decks they find fun, and not really worrying too much about winning. And I think old school formats are probably a lot better at scratching the itch for a large portion of that latter group (which is why it seems to be quite a bit more popular). I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the people running small-scale vintage tournaments now start transitioning to 93/94 over the next couple years for that reason. As far as how it can be successful without allowing proxies, I think it's just that it's more squarely pitched at its target audience: old school is fundamentally for people who have a lot of old cards that they want to play with.