Forgotten Game Boy keyboard revealed, with Phone function

Chris Burns - Dec 28, 2020, 10:59am CST
Forgotten Game Boy keyboard revealed, with Phone function

Today a long-lost add-on for the original Nintendo Game Boy, “Workboy”, was shown in full working order. It’s a keyboard – the sort of keyboard that you wouldn’t expect would make ANY sense to use with a Game Boy. The device was made by Fabtek, released back in the year 1992, and never… really made its way to the public at large.

The Workboy was created in at least a couple iterations – and it’s unlikely you’ve ever seen a single version out in the wild. The keyboard connects to the Game Boy via USB. In at least one version of the machine, there’s a special stand with which the Game Boy is set upright for optimal viewing and working with the Workboy.

As shown by the folks at DidYouKnowGaming, the Workboy took a whole lot of work and some big dreams for the handheld machine.

With the Workboy keyboard, the creators at Fabtek delivered a cartridge with a set of what we might today call mini-apps. There was a “Local Clock”, a day planner “Daybook”, and a Calendar system. There was a temperature conversion system – note: not an actual thermometer, since neither the keyboard nor the Game Boy came with the required sensors – but a converter if you HAD the temperature in Fahrenheit and needed to convert to Celsius.

The cartridge also had a Control Menu with the ability to change your Home City in order to see an accurate view of the time with Local Clock. An Exchange system was also included, so you could convert monetary amounts from one currency to another. Of course, this bit was only really useful for the moment at which the currency exchange rates were recorded, when the cartridge was originally made.

The Workboy system also had a “Records” section that was able to record “important facts and figures” like addresses and notes. There was an “Accounts” section described by its creators as such: “keep track of your precious golden horde by entering your current bank account balance.”

Easily the most awesome part of the Workboy system was the Phone. The Game Boy itself couldn’t make a call, but with the Phone function in Workboy, you COULD get the Game Boy to dial your phone for you. Per its creators, “The Workboy can audo-dial from a list of telephone numbers in the address book data base.”

But how? “Hold the mouth-piece of the phone to the Game Boy speaker, then auto-dial.” This wouldn’t work with your modern smartphone system – but pick up an old land-line phone and you’ll be in business!

The Game Boy peripheral Workboy is just about as available as the transparent Game Boy – good luck finding one!


Must Read Bits & Bytes