What’s gray, bigger than a sandwich, and supplied you with hundreds of hours of entertainment back in the 80s and 90s? The one, the only, Nintendo Game Boy. For this week’s Technology Throwback Thursday, we take a look at the device that got me yelled at countless times for not paying attention or listening to annoying midi music way too loudly.

The Game Boy was released in 1989, and right away it came with Tetris, one of the all time classic games on any console. Who doesn’t remember the frustration of getting a million squares when all you want is a bar? Or how about those L-shaped pieces–they’re the wanna-be bar’s, getting you part of the way to redemption, but not quite home. That game–as well as the original Super Mario Land–deserves a Technology Throwback Thursday of its own!

We pillaged the Gazelle Device Library and found an original Game Boy from back in 1989 with a Tetris cartridge still in it. After popping in four AA batteries, we heard that classic Nintendo “ding” that lets you know that all is right in the world, you have enough juice left to get in some game time. But nothing showed up on the screen! That’s when we remembered the contrast toggle on the side of the Game Boy, used to adjust the classic dot matrix screen. All of a sudden, that definitive home screen showed up, and it was game on.

When the original Game Boy launched, it weighed just under a pound, was 5.8″ x 3.5″ x 1.25″, a 160×144 screen resolution, and displayed two colors: black and white (OK, it was really more of a pale green, but still). Compare that to an iPhone, which weighs .25 lbs, is 4.87″ x 2.31″ x 0.3″, has a 1136×640 screen resolution, and can display nearly 17 million colors. And that’s before even mentioning the fact that to play a game, you needed to pop in a new cartridge, versus just clicking on any downloadable app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android. Way better than carrying around 20 different little cartridges to fit your every entertainment need for a family road trip.

We may now have our Angry Birds, our Flappy Bird, and Fluffy Birds, but we all know that Tetris was the original take-anywhere game that could kill an hour on the subway or while waiting for your mom to pick you up from practice. Our national obsession with being able to play any game, anytime got kicked into high gear with the Game Boy, and we’ve never looked back. Just ask everyone addicted to Candy Crush.


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