The original Nintendo Game Boy is turning 25 this week. To celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the plucky handheld console that changed the gaming world, web developer Petr Tichy has put together a fun interactive birthday card that shows the original Game Boy doing what it does best: play Tetris.
First released by Nintendo in 1989 and sold consistently until 2003, the Game Boy was extraordinary in how remedial it was. The original Game Boy was just a 4.19MHz processor paired with 8KB of RAM and a 2.6-inch pea green display capable of showing a maximum of four shades of gray. Compared to modern smartphones, the original Game Boy was laughably underpowered: a modern iPhone is tens of thousands of times more powerful than the Game Boy, spec-for-spec.
Even with such limited specs, the Game Boy was a speedy little beast, capable of running most games at up to 60 frames per second, or about the same refresh rate that a top-of-the-line HDTV is capable of today. It also had incredible battery life: with just four AA batteries, the original Game Boy had upward of 30 hours of battery life. But more important than the Game Boy’s specs was the system’s longevity. Nintendo sold the original Game Boy for more than 14 years, selling over 120 million units before the handheld console was finally retired. And during those 14 years, some 800 Game Boy games were released, although no game ever sold better than the one that launched the system, Tetris.
Pretty much everyone who grew up in the ’80s or ’90s has a memory of the original Game Boy. Co.Design editor Suzanne LaBarre remembers pining for one as a school girl (her parents made her watch PBS instead). Assistant editor Carey Dunne says that one of her most cherished memories is of the time her brother lent her his Game Boy during a week-long stay in the hospital for a bout of appendicitis. And I remember recovering from a particularly bad breakup–in Egypt, of all places–by playing marathon sessions of Pokemon on a Pikachu-yellow Game Boy Color in 1999.
Everyone’s got a Game Boy memory. Check out Tichy’s Birthday Card here and let us know what Game Boy memories it conjures for you in the comments.