Video Game Historian Liam Robertson shared his quest to find out what happened to this add-on in a new video history secret video on DidYouKnowGaming? and not only did he track down the original creators behind the WorkBoy to find out the story why it was never released, but he was also able to make one of the only prototypes in the world work.
As you can see in the image below, the WorkBoy was a keyboard connected to the Game Boy via a Link cable and would use 12 programs, including an address / phonebook and appointment book.
The WorkBoy would be an officially licensed accessory for the Game Boy, designed by Source Research and Development and manufactured by Fabtek Inc. in close collaboration with Nintendo.
In January 1992, WorkBoy was officially a trademark of Nintendo of America and even appeared at CES 1992. It is profiled by various stores, but after a short coverage it more or less disappeared.
Robertson was able to locate Eddie Gill, the architect of the WorkBoy and the founder of Source Research and Development, and he discussed how the WorkBoy would originally be released in late 1992 or early 1993 for about $ 79- $ 89 USD, but different issue prevents it from ever reaching the public.
Gill said there were only two WorkBoy prototypes left in the world he knew of, and he said one was probably “deep in the vaults of Nintendo” while the other was owned by Frank Ballouz, the founder of Fabtek.
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Robertson came in contact with Ballouz and he indeed had a WorkBoy prototype. However, Ballouz did not have a Game Boy to test it, so he sent it to Robertson hoping he could make it work.
When Robertson first connected the WorkBoy keyboard to a GameBoy, nothing short of a short alarm sounded. It appears that the WorkBoy needs a pattern to function fully, although none could be found.
As fate would have it, Robertson was able to find a ROM of the software in one of the recent major leaks that followed on the Nintendo Gigaleak earlier this year. After the ROM burned an empty cartridge, Robertson made it work.
Seeing the WorkBoy in action is a look at what could have been. It’s also very interesting to see it in action in 2020, where many of the features of the WorkBoy are commonplace. In 1992, it was his time ahead.As a result, it had to carry a fairly high price. The high price was one of the main reasons why the project was canceled, as the $ 89.99 USD Game Boy would get a price drop, meaning the WorkBoy would probably have been more than the system itself at $ 79- $ 89 USD.
In addition, a large explosion in a factory in Japan that manufactures computer chips caused the price of D-RAM to rise, making it almost impossible to lower the price of the WorkBoy once it was 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 a keyboard and touch screen, which would be licensed by Nokia later in 1996. for its Nokia 9000 series devices. .
Gill then goes back and works with Nintendo to try to develop a revamped WorkBoy for the Game Boy Advance that enables email, web browsing and word processing. As with the original, however, it never reached the finish line.
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Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.