Video game historian Liam Robertson recently released a video detailing his search for the “WorkBoy,” an unreleased Game Boy add-on which would have given the handheld gaming device functions similar to a PDA.
Developed in the 1990s by Source Research & Development and Fabtek Inc, the WorkBoy would have taken the form of a keyboard which attached to the Game Boy via a Link Cable. It would have allowed the Game Boy to store addresses and phone numbers, keep track of appointments, and manage financial data.
Robertson contacted WorkBoy architect Eddie Gill, as well as Fabtek founder Frank Ballouz in order to gain access to one of two remaining WorkBoy prototypes. He was able to restore the WorkBoy to functionality due to its accompanying software being released during a recent major leak of Nintendo data. Robertson’s video shows off the WorkBoy’s functions, which include twelve separate apps, each with practical, work-based functions.
According to Gill and Ballouz, the WorkBoy was successfully developed and even advertised, but was never released. This was primarily due to the add-on’s high price point, which was planned to be between $79 and $89 USD (roughly $165 when adjusted for inflation). This means a single WorkBoy would have cost nearly as much as a Game Boy itself, which led to Nintendo feeling that the product would not sell. Nintendo had also considered developing a WorkBoy add-on for the later Game Boy Advance handheld device, but this also never came to fruition.
Eventually, the idea behind the WorkBoy would be used to develop additional functions for Nokia’s “Nokia 9000” communicator device, which was initially released in 1996. Address and appointment books eventually became common additions to cell phones and other devices as technology advanced.
Robertson’s YouTube series, “Game History Secrets,” can be found on the channel “DidYouKnow Gaming.” Previous topics have included cancelled games, rare Nintendo consoles, and original concepts for popular game franchises, including Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon.
Would you have owned a WorkBoy had they actually been released? Do you wish your consoles could also manage your finances and keep your appointments? Let us know!