September 28, 1990: Nintendo's Game Boy takes Europe by storm

The Game Boy, Nintendo's handheld device which went on to sell in its millions, was launched along with its fiendishly addictive game Tetris on this day.

The handheld video game console – and its addictive game Tetris – took Europe by storm on this day in 1990.

The Game Boy – Nintendo's second handheld game system after the Game & Watch series – was first launched Japan in April 1989. Within a fortnight, it had sold out of its entire stock of 300,000 – and when it launched in the United States a few months later, 40,000 units were sold on the first day.

It caused a similar sensation when it arrived in Europe in September of the following year.

A portable system which used interchangeable game cartridges, the Nintendo Game Boy was off-white with a monochrome screen. It had a directional pad in the shape of a cross, four buttons – labelled A, B, SELECT, and START – and two dials, one controlling volume and one contrast. It could run off a power supply or four AA batteries – promising 30 hours of playing time with the latter.

The Game Boy was designed by Nintendo's Research and Development 1 team, led by engineer Gunpei Yokoi. When it first launched, industry critics said that the console’s monochrome screen was too small and its processing power inadequate – so Yokoi recognised that it needed to be launched with a killer app. That app turned out to be Tetris – a game which Nintendo had bought the rights to in 1988 after seeing it demonstrated at a trade show.

[May 7, 1946: Electronics pioneer Sony founded in Tokyo out of the ruins of post-war Japan]

Tetris was one of four game cartridges launched when the console went on sale in Europe – along with Super Mario Land, Alleyway and Baseball.

Many more games would follow over the years – but it was the addictive, falling blocks game which caught the public’s imagination, making the Game Boy a 1990s must-have not just for gamers but for anyone with opposable thumbs.

[April 23, 1982: ZX Spectrum brings affordable - and colourful - computing into Britain’s homes]

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