The Price Is Right

December 30th, 2010 1:24 PM
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?

Wait Wait Don't Tell Woz

December 20th, 2010 8:08 AM
Filed under Mainstream coverage, Steve Wozniak;
Comments Off on Wait Wait Don't Tell Woz

Steve Wozniak certainly does get around! First he appeared on a geek trading card. Then he showed up in London for Christie's Apple-1 auction before flying back to California to give a press tour of the Computer History Museum. After all that, he still had time to call into National Public Radio's quiz show, Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me!

Rather than appear in the studio, Woz dialed into the December 11th episode of the show for a quick interview, in which he discussed why he created the Apple-1, what he thought computers would be used for, and how their many intended applications have surprised him. He then skipped ahead three decades from Apple's origins to his love affair with their current products, explaining why he has three iPhones and what he uses each one for. Part of it is for redundancy, as Woz observed, "Everything that has a computer in it will fail — from a watch to a car to a radio to an iPhone. It'll fail if it has a computer in it." His suggestion for how to fix the situation will have you howling!

Woz was then quizzed under the auspices of the game "Not My Job", with a set of questions grouped under the heading "This Apple Doesn't Need No Genius Bar". Three trivia questions about real, fruity apples demonstrated Woz's ability to think his way out of any puzzle, be it technological or agrarian.

Here's the clip:

You can download the MP3 from NPR's Web site, which also offers a transcript. Or you can download the entire 47-minute episode from iTunes, in which Woz's appearance can be found at time indices 18:11 – 28:48.

(Hat tip to mono of Say Cheese!)