The First Consumer Sewing Machine To Feature Computerized Design Inputs Was Powered By A?
Answer: Nintendo Game Boy Color
It’s a match made in heaven if ever there was one: consumer sewing machines and portable gaming systems. No? You don’t see it? Well you certainly wouldn’t be alone in feeling a bit of confusion over exactly how the ubiquitous and iconic Nintendo Game Boy Color ended up paired with a semi-automated consumer sewing machine.
In 2000, the Jaguar company of Japan (not to be confused with the European car company) released a sophisticated sewing machine, the JN-100, marketed at serious consumer hobbyists. The machine was, in its own right, a great sewing machine that had a peculiar add-on: you could hook the machine up to a Game Boy Color and ‘drive control’ the sewing machine and embroider onto fabric.
The machine was driven entirely by software contained on specialized Game Boy cartridges released by the company including the very niche Mario Family, a title whose sole purpose was to feed computerized embroidery designs of Mario-universe characters like Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, and so on into the sewing machine for those sewing enthusiasts who couldn’t live without monogrammed pillowcases that also featured a koopa or two.
Although the system wasn’t exactly insanely popular (and certainly very niche), it was popular enough for the Singer sewing machine company to distribute it abroad as the Singer IZEK and for the parent company, Jaguar, to release a follow-up model (the JN-2000). The most important element of the JN-100 and the JN-2000 wasn’t what they could do (which was, in aggregate, not a whole lot), but that they proved there was a consumer desire for computerized sewing machines. Now you can pick up a computerized sewing machine with access to hundreds of stitch and embroidery patterns for a few hundred dollars (no Game Boy Color necessary).
Image courtesy of Singer.