GBOS: First steps

· Thought

Some backstory

Although most assuredly born after the original Game Boy’s heyday, I’m still in love with the thing. Actually, I never really had the hots for the original grey brick - I was way more interested in its younger (Japanese-exclusive) sister, the Game Boy Light. Let’s, uh, not do this metaphor anymore.

My brother was the original owner of the Game Boy Light, which boasted not only a smaller form factor than the original brick, but an electroluminescent backlight. It fixed every flaw with the original and then some, and ever since my brother handed me that tiny golden rectangle with a copy of Tetris slotted in, I was enamoured with it. Years later, when I found out the lengths my uncle had to go to in order to actually get the thing for my brother, it only became even more precious.

Why an OS?

Naturally, when you have a cool console, your first instinct is to write an operating system for it. Okay, I’ll admit, it’s a little strange to not just either sell the GB, display it, or play game on it. Unfortunately, it has way too much sentimental value to sell, but I really don’t see any value in it as a display piece. As much as I’m a fan of retro games, my Nintendo Switch can run Tetris a lot better. Alas, it seemed the old thing was doomed to rot, until I discovered that the thing has a variant of the Zilog Z80 chip as its brain. Yes, the Zilog Z80 that powered an entire generation of hobbyist computers. What’s more, it’s an incredibly simple system with a vibrant development community (seriously, one of the most popular development environments for it was updated 5 days ago at the time of writing this). After taking a university course where I wrote in the CPU-speak that is Assembly language, I was so wowed by the simplicity and elegance of telling a computer exactly what to do with no frills that I vowed to find a project where I could use Assembly for real. So, I put two and two together, and the seed for the incredibly-creatively-titled GBOS (Game Boy Operating System) took root.

Stay tuned, more posts will come soon.