The internet is a wonderful tool which allows us to do all kinds of things – shopping, keeping in touch with loved ones and (of course) reading amazing websites like Nintendo Life. It's also rather handy when you pick up a second-hand piece of vintage gaming technology and want to know who owned it a few decades ago – and that's exactly what happened when Jake Smith stumbled across a Game Boy inscribed with a UK post code.
"I mod and restore Game Boys, and am always on the look out for DMGs to resurrect," Smith tells us. "Last Friday I got a text off my friend Lewis, who runs Gamer – an independent video games store in Blackburn, UK – saying he'd just had one traded in and could put it aside for me. Saturday morning, I headed into town and straight to Gamer with my son, as we were also picking up Splatoon from Lewis, and collected the Game Boy. Lewis laughed and pointed out the post code on the back of the console, and it got me thinking… could we find the original owner?"
The great quest to track down the original owner then began in earnest. "I took a pic of the back of the DMG where the post code was inscribed — LE12 8QN — and idly tweeted it out to Nintendo Life," continues Smith. "To be honest, I wasn't expecting to find the original owner; it was just something that'd provoke a bit of interest on the interwebs for a rainy Saturday afternoon."
However, things escalated quickly, and Smith had a bite in super-quick time from an online acquaintance who happened to live in Barrow-Upon-Soar, the town that the Game Boy had originated from - around 125 miles from the Blackburn store where it had been purchased last week. "One of my Twitter followers - Ben Spencer - lives near the street and posted the pic and info on a Facebook page called Spotted in Barrow, asking some of the locals to help." The response was remarkable, with many Barrow-Upon-Soar residents pledging to pitch in to solve this rather unusual conundrum. Amazingly, Smith's search broke free of the internet and got a bit more physical. "One woman still lived on the street, so she went knocking door-to-door on Sunday and ruled out a lot of houses."
Then there was the final breakthrough - the original owner spotted the post on Facebook on Monday and got in touch, solving this mini-mystery. That person is Emma Gallagher, who owned the console as a child and only recently parted company with it in December. Ironically, the post code on the back of the device was written using a security pen only visible under UV light, but as time has gone by the ink has reappeared. While Smith was more than happy to reunite the former owner with the console, it looks like he's got it for keeps. "I think Emma's working abroad in Guatemala, and hasn't show any interest in being reunited with the Game Boy. I'll give it a thorough clean and UV treatment, backlight it and make it live on and provide many more years of service."
Another mystery solved by the wonders of the internet. It might seem like a minor achievement, but the fact that Smith picked up the system many miles away from its original location - and then was able to find the original owner in two days - is a pretty impressive feat. Not bad for a bit of fun on a rainy Saturday.