Old school television

When I was growing up, channel 56 in Boston ran a contest in between afternoon cartoons in which one lucky viewer could play an on-the-air video game over the phone for cash and prizes. Cross-hairs were broadcast on the screen overlaying a field of stars. Flying saucers would speed by the screen, and when in the cross-hairs, the player would shout “POW!” over the phone, causing a laser to fire. If timed properly, the flying saucer would be destroyed and the player would earn points.

In this low-tech video game, a human being was probably sitting in the studio, finger on the trigger of a joystick’s fire button, reacting to the player’s command to fire.

At the time, I thought it was the coolest thing ever invented, but looking back on it now, I can’t imagine how or why this captured my attention.

Eloise told me that her father watched a television show in his youth in which viewers were sent a clear, plastic film to overlay the television screen so that they could draw on the screen with markers based upon events happening onscreen.

To my year-old daughter, this will seem like the Old West.

Ancient and silly and nearly impossible.

It even does to me.