Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Game Show "At Home" Versions


The crazy props, overblown sets, and the white-knuckle competition for matched corduroy luggage have long made game shows a staple of the TV schedule.  The television audience plays along vicariously through the on-screen players, so with every victory it's like you're there too scoring a sweet ceramic St. Bernard and a case of Penzoil.

It wasn't long before the "play along" aspect of game shows was exploited by creating scaled down board game versions (these were often consolation prizes on the shows themselves).  It's difficult to reproduce the gaudy excess of most game shows in these mini cardboard versions, but the most important element to capture is the fun and excitement of the television original.  Here are a few examples.

10k_pyramid_1 $10,000 Pyramid (inflation hit the show's title, eventually becoming the $100,000 Pyramid) has players feed each other clues to guess key words & phrases.  The main feature of the show is the multi-story elaborate pyramid set, replicated here with little cards and a special decoder lens.  It's rather fun, but oddly the final round (the game the very show is named after) isn't much like the TV version. 

Password_1 Password was much simpler to capture in a home version (for one thing, the box is a third the size!).  Since the original game is not very gimmicky, the home game is merely a deck of cards and a special sleeve to read them with.  There have been at least 25 editions (superstitious Milton Bradley skipped version #13), and even the earliest versions seem to be at the thrift store all the time.  Lots of fun, especially on long car trips - even the driver can safely play along.

Beat_the_clock Beat The Clock is based on a wacky 1950's hit show pitting contestants against each other to accomplish wacky stunts.  The box includes enough props for 40 different skill games (less messy than the TV versions), along with the eponymous 60 second clock.  The classic party stunt game is tremendous fun even today.

As multimedia technology made its way into our living rooms, it wasn't long before these game shows made their way onto our televisions again, but this time in the form of video games. 

Jeopardy_nes2 The first game console version of Jeopardy appeared in 1987 on the Nintendo NES.  I've got the 1991 sequel cartridge Super Jeopardy with caricatured players, and croaky synthesized speech.  Jeopardy_segacd2In 1995, Sega CD (the CD-ROM add-on for Sega Genesis and Mega-Drive) featured a much more advanced version of Jeopardy.  The extra space on the CD allowed for thousands of questions along with lots of digitized audio and low-res video clips from the show - including Alex Trebek purring, "Better luck next time, player!".

Wheel_fortune_c64 Wheel of Fortune has been on practically every kind of console, including home computers like the Commodore 64.  Gameplay benefited from the computer's keyboard and better text handling ability (spelling out long answers with a video game controller tended to slow down gameplay).  You can also play the "home game" outside the home with versions on Game Boy, Game Gear, and even in the arcade.

3d0_twisted To bring the whole "home game" concept full circle, the 3DO (a 1993 multimedia CD-rom system) features a game called Twisted.  It's not based on an existing game show, but does play like one.  It has a massive multimedia stage, comical prizes to win, even cheesy music and fake commercials - it all comes together to bring a very real feeling game show to your television.  Plus, one of the player avatars is a PEZ dispenser.  What's not to like?  Someone needs to re-release this one!

Today many game shows have official online versions, sometimes even offering real prizes!  If you'd prefer a more tactile game show experience, many updated versions of these games are on store shelves today (or available for pennies at your local thrift store).  Either way, it's a chance to play your TV favorites without waiting for Johnny Olsen's invitation to "Come on down!"


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...