Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Nosetalgia: Winky-Dink and You: The First Interactive TV Show

Here's a little blast from the past. I was thinking about how interactive today's 2008 media world is, when I recalled that the first TV show that required the viewing audience to participate was a little known children's program called Winky-Dink and You.

Hosted by ubiquitous game show host Jack Barry, this CBS kid's show required that you purchase a special kit which included a clear plastic sheet that stuck to your TV set by static electricity and a box full of magic crayons. Winky Dink was a cartoon character, and whenever he got into trouble, you had to take out the kit and actually draw him a way out right on the TV set. If he needed a bridge to cross a canyon, you drew it. If he needed a chair to sit down, you drew that too. Parents hated it because kids would often forget the plastic sheet and draw right onto the TV tube glass. Winky Dink also had a maddenly cheerful theme song, which would be a great open for a Twilight Zone episode.

The original Winky aired 1953 to 1957 and then was revived in syndication in 1969. But some great ideas never fade away, and a Winky kit with video, plastic sheet and crayons can still be purchased at some toy stores and on the Internet. Vintage video below so everyone can enjoy the insanity of the theme song...


Dean Treadway said...

I was always fascinated by the way Winky Dink worked, so I really appreciate this article, and would love to see someof it. And I promise not to draw on my computer screen. Thanks, Jane!

Scott said...

Great post! So true! Oh, I'm back!