the gateway drug to gaming: winky dink and me
In the early sixties, when I was just a wee child and television was still broadcast in twenty shades of black and white, I had my first experience with interactive tv viewing.
Winky Dink and You originally ran in the fifties, but was brought back, if momentarily, in 1969. The premise was this: Winky Dink was a kid with hair that was shaped like a star. Winky would get into all kinds of jams and he would ask the kids watching at home to help him out by drawing whatever he needed to extract himself from his predicament. We did this with the Winky-Dink Kit, which consisted of a greenish plastic screen and some crayons. If Winky needed a ladder, for instance, you would put the screen over the tv - it magically stuck to the screen! - and draw a ladder. Usually there were dots to connect to help you draw the picture.
The show originally hosted by Jack Barry, and I don't remember if he also hosted the episodes I watched. There was a goofy assistant with the name of Mr. Bungle, which maybe explains my fascination with the band of the same name - some deep seated memory makes me cling to the band as the only connection to my innocent, black-and-white childhood. No, not really. But it's still an interesting side note. Sadly, the rebirth of Winky Dink in 1969 didn't last long, as doctors everywhere decided that children could go blind from sitting that close to the tv.
Winky Dink was my first inkling -at just seven years old - that television could be more than something to stare at. It was a slippery slope from there, kids. Winky Dink was the gateway drug that led me to Pong and Oddyssey many years later.