TV Pow! - 70's Video Game Played Via Phone
I've spoken before of locally made kids programs here in Chicago. In the pre-Atari 70's, I remember one of my earliest glimpses at the world of videogames called TV Pow! Stagehands would roll out a massive console with a black and white (!) TV built in, and "disco - tech" graphics spelled out TV Pow!
The game was an anemic looking skeet game (black line shooting at a scrolling white line), displayed full screen while a randomly selected at-home player triggered shots by saying "pow" into their telephone. This was my first look at an interactive game on live TV, and all of Chicago got to watch.
The mystery is what were these TV Pow! consoles? From what little information there is on the internet, it seems that the "game engine" that "rendered" the "advanced graphics" were modified Fairchild System F systems; the second cartridge based game system. The hack was to have the Fairchild's "fire" button react to voice. Though there are rumors that there was just a man inside the cabinet pressing the "fire" button, though the simple audio modification seems more likely.
TV Pow! was broadcast in both the US and Canada (the picture above is from a Michigan affiliate), so there was some enterprising company making these units expressly for the local TV market. It's a ridiculously simple game by today's standards, but there were a few factors conspiring to make the game difficult. The main problem was the analog delay between the viewer and the TV station, making it difficult to time shots just right. Fortunately, spazzy kids conquered the problem by shrieking 'powpowpowpowpowpowpowpowpow" into their telephones.