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The Strange Game Boy Accessory That Never Saw The Light Of Day

The Nintendo Game Boy came to be in 1989, when portable electronics were beginning to emerge, but were far from the norm. Cars were the most likely place to find portable phones, pagers were for doctors, and cameras were mechanical, film-based pieces of equipment.


As a result, when the affordably-priced, durable, and very portable Game Boy came out and then became a Christmas toy sensation, peripheral manufactures began to wonder what else the unit could do beyond run game cartridges. Later in the handheld's life cycle, innovative accessory and cartridge makers found ways to attach a camera, an FM radio, a printer, and even sonar to the Game Boy, proving that there was plenty more that the Game Boy could do — sort of.

However, one abandoned Game Boy accessory would have changed the whole dynamic of the system, turning it into the productivity tool that it wasn't meant to be. This is the strange Game Boy accessory that never saw the light of day.

The Workboy from Fabtek made the Game Boy the workstation of the past

If you've ever looked at a classic Game Boy and thought, "If only I could do my homework on that," well, you're not entirely alone. That was what Fabtek was banking on when it designed the Workboy, an accessory for the Game Boy that would have added a stand and a small keyboard to the famous handheld console.


Fabtek event built a prototype to display at the 1992 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, according to an April 1992 issue of Gamezone shown on the YouTube channel Sharkie's Gaming Controllers. In the article, also shared in parts on Twitter by Nintendo Memories, the author speaks to the Workboy's developers, Source R&D limited. The developers said they expected a June 1992 release in the US, and that the unit would cost $79 – the same price as the Game Boy in 1992.

The article says that there was already a second iteration of the Workboy planned, including a full word processor. For a generation of kids looking for an excuse to bring their Game Boys with them to school, this could have made quite a compelling argument.


The Workboy never became a reality

While the first version of the Workboy wouldn't have helped kids in school write papers, there were some other functions that, in theory, could be useful. The original design for the Workboy included a calculator, a five language mini-translator, and a 255-year appointment book, according to an ad from Nintendo Power.


While the Workboy had some ambitious features planned, it would have been more like a personal organizer. Record-keeping features, a bank account tracker, and an address book are all useful. However, in many ways, the Workboy was somewhat ahead of its time. Ultimately, the Game Boy was seen by most as more of a gaming platform than a useful workplace piece of equipment, and few people were ever likely to start taking notes in a meeting on a Game Boy — even if it had a keyboard.

The Workboy never came to be, although those who needed their Game Boy to perform more utilitarian functions weren't totally out of luck. In 1991, GameTek released a series of cartridges for the Game Boy that included Spanish and French dictionaries, a travel guide, as well as a combination dictionary/spell checker.