U.S. Patent No. 5,184,830: Compact hand-held video game system
U.S. Patent No. 5,184,830 is the American patent for the original Game Boy released in 1989. Nintendo filed the patent first in Japan and then in 1992 filed at the USPTO. The USPTO granted the 1989 priority date based on the Japan application. The patent describes a handheld gaming system that utilizes cartridges to store the game data. Game cartridges would be inserted into a slot on the back of the system. A switch on the top would turn the system on and off. The user is supposed to grip the systems with both hands so that the user’s thumbs rest upon the face buttons. Character movement was assigned to the D-pad while the A and B buttons handle action inputs. The Game Boy also featured a start and select button located at the bottom of the face plate. The start button typically started or paused the game, while the select button allowed players to select a game mode if offered. The Game Boy needed four AA batteries to operate, but the batteries could last up to thirty hours.
Nintendo released the Game Boy first in Japan on April 21, 1989, and then in North America on July 31, 1989. By the end of the Game Boy’s lifespan, including the Game Boy Color, over 118 million units were sold. In 2009, the Game Boy was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.
A hand-held electronic game machine for use with attachable/detachable memory game packs wherein the game machine includes a case of a size which may be held by a hand and capable of being sandwiched by both hands with a first switch disposed at a position such that during a game it can be operated by one thumb on a front surface of the case, a second switch disposed at a position such that during a game it can be operated by the other thumb on the first surface of the case and a third operation switch means provided in a region of said front surface where imaginary loci of both thumbs intersect with each other on the front surface, and wherein the game machine can be connected with others for simultaneous multiple player competition.
1. A hand-held electronic game machine, comprising: a case of a size which may be held by hand and having a subsonically rectangularly shape defined by a front surface, a rear surface, two latitudinal side surfaces, a lower side surface and an upper side surface, each of said two longitudinal side surfaces being of greater length than each of said lower side surface and said upper side surface, said case being sandwiched by both hands during game play, said front surface having an upper front surface portion bounded by an upper portion of each of said longitudinal side surfaces and a lower front surfaced portion bounded by a lower portion of each of said longitudinal side surfaces; a first operation switch disposed on a right portion of said lower front surface portion of said case such that during game play it can be operated by a thumb of a player’s right hand sandwiching said case; a second operation switch disposed on a left portion of said lower front surface portion of said case such that during game play it can be operated by a thumb of a player’s left hand sandwiching said case; a dot-matrix liquid crystal display panel including a display screen defining a matrix of rows and columns of dots disposed on said upper front surface portion such that in use said display shown is positioned above said first operation switch and said second operation switch; an insertion portion formed on said upper side surface of said case and extending, in use, behind said dot-matrix liquid crystal display panel in said case; an external memory attachably and detachably insertable into said insertion portion from said upper side surface of said case for storing a game program and background character data and moving object character data with which images for a game are displayed on said display screen; game processing means housed in said case for reading said game program and said background character data and moving object character data from said external memory and controlling the display of moving objects on said display screen in response to the actuation of said first operation switch and said second operation switch and for controlling the display of background characters on said display screen; a connector housed in said case for connecting said external memory being inserted in said insertion portion to said game processing means; a memory housed in said case and associated with said game processing means for storing said background character data and said moving object character data read from said external memory by said game processing means and transferred through said connector; display signal generating means housed in said case for generating display signals for displaying background characters and moving objects on the basis of said background character data and said moving object character data stored in said memory; a driver for driving said dot-matrix liquid crystal display panel in response to said display signals generated by said display signal generating means to display said background characters and said moving objects on said display screen, said driver including a first driver for driving said dot-matrix liquid crystal display panel in columns and a second driver for driving said liquid crystal display panel in rows.