Nintendo's Game Boy handheld was first released in 1989. The gaming device was the brainchild of long-time Nintendo employee Gunpei Yokoi, who was the person behind the Ultra Hand, an expanding arm toy created and produced by Nintendo in 1970, long before Nintendo would enter the video game market.
It was among the best selling handheld system of all time selling over 100 million copies worldwide which is still unrivaled as of 2017. Even the original nintendo system never came close to the numbers that the gameboy sold.
Before the gameboy there was a system called the game and watch that had one game and a watch on it. The game and watch had 2x screens usually or sometimes one and had the tech of the d-pad and many other things that was later added to the gameboy and even the ds down the line. The game and watch was designed by Gunpei when he saw a man on a train playing with his electronic calculator and thought it was be cool if there were characteres on the screen instead of numbers.
Each game and watch had a simular thing as the calculator as where some parts are lit up and others are not to simulate movement. All of this on a LCD screen as well. Over 60 game and watches were made over a course of about 15 years. This attracted other companies to make simular things as this new tech and many of us remember that as the tiger electronic games which had many different ips attached to those.
However, Gunpei felt that this idea can be pushed further even to the point where it could be like a portable nintendo system with exchangable cartrages. In 1989 this idea came to fruition to the game boy it comboed the portability of the game and watch and interchangeable cartrages of the nintendo system.
The 1st big breakthough was in 1988 when nintendo was able to aquire exclusive rights to a game called tetris. It was a huge seller and one of the big reasons that the gameboy was so successful. It was an addictive game that people of all ages could enjoy and it was packed in with the system making it one of the must buys back in the day.
Despite competing against other portable systems with superior tech like backlights, color screen and so many more. The techology at the time made it extremely hard for any system with all that to have a good battery life and many systems couldnt even last 3 hours compared to gameboys 8+ hours. This would later change however back then this was a huge blow to the competition even though the games and tech was beter.
Then there was the pokemon phenomeon. That game really pushed the gameboy to its limits offering a full length rpg in a portable setting and was a huge reason the original gameboy stuck around longer before the next in line game boy which was the game boy color. Pokemon is still around today and helped keep the game boy relevent with each new release.
Game boy was such a huge success that it was inducted into the toy hall of fame in 2009. However the creator of the gameboy didnt live long enough to see its success. After the failure of the virtual boy he left the company and not soon after that he died in a car accdient at the age of 56. He was unable to see the success of the game boy and the legacy he left behind in his passing.