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Gaming History You Should Know – History of Workboy, GameBoy’s Unreleased PDA Peripheral January 3, 2021

Posted by Maniac in Gaming History You Should Know, Uncategorized.
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Happy New Year everyone, welcome back to Gaming History You Should Know, where we highlight some of the best independently produced gaming history content from across the web. Today, we’re going to be talking about some gaming history that has been long since forgotten, mostly for the fact it was never released.

While most people use their smartphones and tablets to manage their day to day notes and communication, smartphones as we know them did not exist before 2007 when the iPhone was first released. However, pocket sized electronic devices capable of note taking and rudimentary wireless data exchange were available since the early 90s, we called them PDAs.

PDAs, short for Personal Digital Assistant, were tiny computers capable of storing electronic notes, as well as include some basic programs including an address book, calendar and calculator. Since PDAs were powered by simple batteries, you would need to regularly back it up to your PC or Mac so not to lose data. The most famous PDA was the Palm Pilot, but Apple had their own PDA called the Newton.

Being small, portable computers capable of storing data and running programs, PDAs were not cheap. They may run off store bought batteries but their hardware still required a low power CPU, static RAM (for storage), and a monochrome LCD screen. This alone would put a PDA price at around $150-300 USD. However, a better option was on the horizon. At the start of the 90s, a handheld gaming device was taking over the world. Called the Game Boy, it was priced at around $80USD and featured a monochrome screen, several interface buttons, a CPU, a sound chip, a serial port, and the ability to run an enormous library of games through expandable ROM cartridges (called Game Paks), the Game Boy was every kid’s essential device for a family road trip.

A company called Fabtek was interested in answering an important question, “Could we add the capabilities of a PDA to the hardware of a Game Boy and deliver a product that could be cost competitive in a time PDAs were seeing incredible use by the enterprise market?” Enter, the WorkBoy. Unfortunately, despite being previewed in an issue of Nintendo Power, it was never released.

Did You Know Gaming, one of the biggest channels in the history of YouTube, produced this thirty minute webisode about the history of this unreleased peripheral. Check it out:

Sorry about the lack of consistent content over the holiday season, you can be sure that regular uploads will resume this week. We’ve got an upcoming written game review, an essay, and at least one new video on the way!