View Full Version : Fake interactive TV shows in the 50's

07-20-2017, 03:09 PM
From today's NY Times Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=search&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront
"The producers of children’s television know the key to holding a distractible audience’s attention: interactivity.

Dora the Explorer asks kids to repeat after her (“Swiper, no swiping!”). Mister Rogers broke the fourth wall to welcome them to his neighborhood. The hosts of “Romper Room” pretended to see them through a “magic mirror,” and read their names on the air."

Winky Dink was another one. From wikipedia:
"The central gimmick of the show, praised by Micro$oft mogul Bill Gates as "the first interactive TV show, was the use of a "magic drawing screen," a piece of vinyl plastic that stuck to the television screen via static electricity. A kit containing the screen and various Winky Dink crayons could be purchased for 50 cents. At a climactic scene in every Winky Dink short film, Winky would arrive on a scene that contained a connect-the-dots picture that could be navigated only with the help of viewers. Winky Dink then would prompt the children at home to complete the picture, and the finished result would help him continue the story. Examples include drawing a bridge to cross a river, using an axe to chop down a tree, or a creating a cage to trap a dangerous lion."

Of course, if you didn't draw the bridge, draw the cage, and so on, Winky Dink would not be blocked from continuing the story. Many kids surely figured out that whatever they did had no effect on the show.

One thing that I like with the internet, is you get real interactivity. Even if it's a flame like "You idiot"... :D

07-20-2017, 03:18 PM
Rather than buy us a special screen, our Grandma put a piece of Saran wrap on the TV.

Eric H
07-20-2017, 04:00 PM
Rather than buy us a special screen, our Grandma put a piece of Saran wrap on the TV.

I just drew directly on the screen. :D

I was a teenager and only did it once, it was reruns by then, I wanted to see how it worked.

Electronic M
07-20-2017, 04:33 PM
IIRC my dad said that for a while in the 70's (?) Bozo's Circus in Chicago would let the kids call in to control the paddle or whatever it was in a sort of pseudo TV video game.

David Roper
07-20-2017, 07:39 PM
The only "call in" remote participation show I recall is the franchise-based TV Powww (

07-20-2017, 09:19 PM
Added WTVK-TV 26 to the listing. They aired TV Powww in Knoxville, TN.

07-20-2017, 10:28 PM
I just drew directly on the screen. :D


I did too and caught bloody hell for it!