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Home / Technology / A lost Game Boy add-on called WorkBoy has been found after 28 years

A lost Game Boy add-on called WorkBoy has been found after 28 years



A lost, unreleased Game Boy add-on known as WorkBoy has been discovered after 28 years and reveals an accessory that could have brought PDA-like features like an address book, calculator, appointment book and so much more to Nintendo’s beloved handheld device. Video game historian Liam Robertson shared his quest to find out what happened to this add-on in a new Game History Secrets video on DidYouKnowGaming? and not only did he track down the original creators behind WorkBoy to learn the story behind why it was never released, he was able to make one of the only prototypes in the world work.

As you can see in the image below, WorkBoy was a keyboard that connected to the Game Boy via Link cable, and will allow you to take advantage of 1

2 apps, including an address / phonebook and appointment book.Image Credit: Liam Robertson - DidYouKnowGaming?  - Game History Secrets

Image Credit: Liam Robertson – DidYouKnowGaming? – Game History Secrets

WorkBoy was set to be an officially licensed accessory for Game Boy designed by Source Research and Development and produced by Fabtek Inc. in close collaboration with Nintendo.

In January 1992, WorkBoy was officially trademarked by Nintendo of America and even appeared at CES in 1992. It was profiled by various outlets, but after a brief swell in coverage, it more or less disappeared.

Robertson was able to track down Eddie Gill, the architect of WorkBoy and the founder of Source Research and Development, and he discussed how WorkBoy was originally planned to be released in late 1992 or early 1993 for around $ 79- $ 89 USD, but different problem prevented it from reaching the audience.

Gill said there were only two WorkBoy prototypes left in the world that he knew of, and he said one was probably “deep inside the Nintendo vaults”, while the other was in the possession of Frank Ballouz, the founder of Fabtek.

The story of (almost) every Nintendo accessory ever

Robertson came in contact with Ballouz, and he actually had a WorkBoy prototype. However, Ballouz did not have a Game Boy to test it, so he sent it to Robertson in the hope that he could make it work.

When Robertson first connected the WorkBoy keyboard to a GameBoy, nothing short of a short alarm sounded. It turns out that WorkBoy needed a cartridge to function fully, even though no one was found.

As fate would have it, Robertson was able to find a ROM with the software in one of the major recent leaks that accompanied the Nintendo Gigaleak earlier this year. After burning the ROM to an empty cartridge, Robertson made it work.

Seeing WorkBoy in action is a glimpse of what could have been. It is also very interesting to see this in action in 2020, where many of WorkBoy’s features are common. Back in 1992, this was ahead of its time.Because of that, it needed to carry a pretty high price. The high price was one of the main reasons for the cancellation of the project, as $ 89.99 USD Game Boy was set to have a price drop, which means that WorkBoy would most likely have been more than the system itself at $ 79 – $ 89 USD .

In addition, a large explosion in a factory in Japan that produced computer chips caused the price of D-RAM to soar, making it almost impossible to bring the price down on WorkBoy if it were released.

Although WorkBoy never saw the light of day, Gill’s original design helped inspire a new device he patented for a personal communicator, complete with keyboard and touch screen, which was later licensed by Nokia for the Nokia 9000 series of devices in 1996.

Gill would then go back and work with Nintendo to try to develop a modernized WorkBoy for Game Boy Advance that allows email, browsing and word processing. As with the original, however, it never reached the finish line.

A History of Nintendo Hardware – 1977 to Now

For more information on Nintendo history, check out our look at The Lie That Helped Build Nintendo and (almost) all Nintendo accessories ever.

Got a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Send an email to newstips@ign.com.

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.




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