As Ninetendo's Game Boy celebrates its 20th anniversary, we take a look at what makes the gaming handheld tick inside.
Examining the front half
Here I've separated the circuit board bearing the unit's LCD screen from the front of the Game Boy case. The round black thing (lower right) is the speaker. You can also see the back side of the Game Boy's silicone control pads, which sit beneath the plastic buttons that you push to play a game.
Behind the buttons
The Game Boy's control mechanisms work identically to those of nearly every post-NES digital game pad. Pieces of springy, flexible silicone rubber with conductive pads (blue and white items, bottom) are sandwiched between the hard plastic buttons that you push on the surface and the circuit board underneath.
When you press the buttons, they push the rubber pads down to touch black contacts on the circuit board, acting as a momentary switch. In the case of the Game Boy's Start and Select controls, the buttons you push (dark brown piece, upper right) are the silicone pads themselves.
Putting it back together
Here we have an array of major Game Boy components: two plastic halves, a battery door, four circuit boards, and the control apparatus. It's actually a pretty simple construction, which has no doubt contributed to the handheld's longevity in the field.
I've had at least two friends drop their Game Boys in the toilet, and the units lived to play Tetris another day. (One of my friends, however, confesses that his Game Boy's life ended when he fiercely headbutted it out of frustration.)
Now I need to put everything back together. I must admit that when I first dissected a Game Boy, at age 12, I had difficulty reassembling it. A quick visit with my father to his toolbox rectified the situation - he was good at that sort of thing. This time I have to do it on my own, so wish me luck.
See also: In photos: The Commodore 64 disassembled