Have you ever wondered what the GameBoy would have looked like as a computer? Or about some of the weird add-ons it got over the years? Well, after 28 years, one of the holy grails of lost GameBoy peripherals has emerged: the WorkBoy.
Long lost and mysterious, the WorkBoy was thought to have been released in limited numbers in 1992 by many enthusiasts of the GameBoy. Developed by FabTek and Source Research & Development, the WorkBoy is made up of two parts, the keyboard peripheral and a cartridge. The keyboard was key providing some of the necessary juice for the program to work, as well as the input method, and the clock functionality. The cart, on the other hand, provided the software, which could function as a day planner, clock, calendar, and more in the pre-smartphone, and even pre-PDA era.
As the new video by Liam Robertson reveals, however, the WorkBoy was never actually brought to market, instead canceled late in development due to the incoming price cut of the GameBoy, which would have made the peripheral more expensive than the base hardware, as it was intending to retail at $89.95. One of, if not the only, prototypes in existence was in the hands of Frank Ballouz, the founder of FabTek, who mailed it out to Liam Robertson. That left Robertson lacking the cartridge, but the Nintendo Gigaleak came to his help here, as one of the releases included the code for the WorkBoy.
By burning it onto a cart, Robertson was able to do what no one had seen in probably 28 years - a functional WorkBoy, that was near its intended release status. Take a look at the video to see it all coming together, and the journey it took him on.
The WorkBoy is fascinating to see as a forerunner to modern technology like smartphones, and also as part of the creativity among people working on peripherals ofr the device. While it never released, its impact would still be felt as ideas from it were used by Nokia, and even Nintendo who hired one of the key people on the progject as a design consultant during the GameBoy Advance days - to the point there were plans, thought they never came to frutition for a WorkBoy 2 for the GameBoy Advance.