In context: After the Game Boy was launched in 1998, it accumulated some accessories. Some are more reasonable, such as a connectable screen magnifier. Others are not very practical, such as Game Boy Printer. WorkBoy is arguably the most useful (and rarest) device ever created for handheld devices.
Game historian Liam Robertson (Liam Robertson) discovered a Nintendo Game Boy accessory that has never been released, which can turn a handheld game console into a mature PDA. In the latest episode of his YouTube series “The Secrets of Game History” (Part 2), Robertson exposed peripherals that have been lost for the past 28 years.
The accessory named WorkBoy is a simple keyboard that can be connected to the Game Boy via a link cable. WorkBoy has multiple productivity applications built-in, including address book, calculator, database, appointment book, world clock, calendar, etc. In fact, there are a total of 1
WorkBoy was designed by the British company Source Research and Development, registered as a trademark in 1992, and commissioned to manufacture the device by Washington startup Fabtek Inc. Both companies have now closed down. This peripheral was introduced in some game publications in the 1990s and even appeared at CES in 1992. However, after a while, it disappeared completely, and no one heard it again.
After months of digging, Robertson found Eddie Gill, the founder of Source Research and Development. Jill is also the main designer of the device. Gil said that WorkBoy is scheduled to be released at the end of 1992 or early 1993, and the price is about $80 or $90. However, due to various reasons, WorkBoy could not be put into production.
As far as Jill knows, only a handful of Game Boy peripheral prototypes exist. One of them is probably owned by Nintendo somewhere, while Fabtek founder Frank Ballouz owns the other. Nintendo was unlikely to obtain information about unreleased products, so Robertson contacted Ballouz.
Ballouz generously agreed to send the WorkBoy prototype to Robertson to see if he can make it work. Robertson connected the device to multiple first-generation Game Boys, but was unable to make it work. Although Ballouz did not remember that it needed separate software, they determined that it must have escaped from the cartridge inserted into the Game Boy.
Fortunately, Robertson was able to find the exact ROM needed to run WorkBoy. That code happened to be included in the Nintendo “Gigaleak” earlier this year. Robertson flashed the software into a blank ROM box. What is certain is that WorkBoy is put into use and works perfectly.
Robertson pointed out that the shortage of D-RAM caused by an explosion in a Japanese foundry was the main reason why WorkBoy could never be put into production. It is also considered too expensive for peripherals, and its price is as high as the Game Boy itself. However, the design of the device subsequently inspired other gadgets, such as the Nokia 9000 series. Of course, all the functions provided by WorkBoy have now become the standard configuration of modern smart phones.