The Price Is Right

Filed under History, Mainstream coverage;

Courtesy Mike Maginnis‘s interview with Bob Bishop (currently available in a free sample issue of Juiced.GS), everyone knows that it was nine Apple II computers that powered the television game show Tic Tac Dough. For some readers, this information comes thirty years after the fact, lending the Apple II a status as something of an unsung hero, working behind the scenes to power an industry. Did it ever get the recognition it deserved?

As a matter of fact, it did. The Apple II was not just an invisible workhorse but was also occasionally the grand prize. In this April 1981 episode of The Price Is Right, one of the many rewards offered to competitors was Steve Wozniak’s most famous personal computer:

The pilot episode of Starcade, one of the first organized video game competitions, also featured an Apple II alongside an Asteroids Deluxe coin-op arcade machine as the ultimate prizes.

Other combinations of this hardware and genre also existed: game shows for the Apple II. Here’s an example of the Apple II version of Wheel of Fortune:

Jeopardy was also released for the Apple II, but I always thought there were many more such opportunities than were realized. Twenty-five years ago, I would’ve liked to have seen an Apple II adaptation of Press Your Luck, for example.

Where else have you seen the Apple II intersect the game show industry?

  1. The problem with Jeopardy on a computer is, for it to work, you either have to use simplistic questions that really do have only one way to answer them, or have a very good natural language parser to make sense of answers that aren’t phrased exactly like the computer expects them. (And, you need spell check, too, to detect correct, but misspelled answers.)

  2. I never played the Apple II version of Jeopardy, though I found the PS2 and Mac versions somewhat backward: the former expected simple word answers spelled using the joypad, while the latter eschewed the full keyboard in favor of multiple choice!

    Regardless, there are plenty of simpler games of chance that would work well on an Apple II, IMHO.