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Winky Dink And You was a CBS television children's show that aired from 1953 to 1957, on Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m./9:30 central. It was hosted by Jack Barry, and featured the exploits of a cartoon character named Winky Dink (voiced by Mae Questel) and his dog Woofer. The show, created by Harry Prichett, Sr. and Ed Wyckoff, featured Barry and his sidekick, the incompetent Mr. Bungle (Dayton Allen), introducing clips of Winky Dink, noted for his plaid pants, tousled hair, and large eyes.
Praised by Microsoft mogul Bill Gates as "the first interactive TV show," the show's central gimmick was the use of a "magic drawing screen", which was a large piece of vinyl plastic which stuck to the television screen via static electricity. A kit containing the screen and various Winky Dink crayons could be purchased for 50 cents. At a climactic scene in every Winky Dink short, Winky would arrive upon a scene which contained a connect the dots picture. He would then prompt the children at home to complete the picture, and the finished result would help him continue the story. Examples include drawing a bridge to cross a river, an axe to chop down a tree, or a cage to trap a dangerous lion. Many children would omit the Magic Screen and draw on the television screen itself, to the annoyance of their parents. Conversely, children would often forget to remove the screen, which would remain on the TV until someone realized the picture was not very bright and had a gray-green tinge.
Another use of the interactive screen was to decode messages. An image would be displayed, showing only the vertical lines of the letters of the secret message, which viewers at home would quickly trace onto their magic screen. A second image would then display the horizontal lines, completing the text.
A final use of the screen was to create the outline of a character with whom Jack Barry would have a conversation. It would seem meaningless to viewers without the screen, further encouraging its purchase.
The program was wildly successful because of its pioneering interactive marketing scheme, and Winky Dink became one of television's most popular characters of the 1950s. However, the show's production was halted despite its modest popularity due to concerns about radiation in television sets affecting children and because of parents' complaints about children drawing on the screen.
The show was revived in syndication for 65 episodes beginning in 1969 and ending in 1973. In the 1990s, a new "Winky Dink Kit" emerged on the market, containing a magic screen, crayons, and all-new digitized Winky Dink and You episodes.
 External links
- I Remember JFK: Winky Dink and You
- Winky-Dink and You (1953) at the Internet Movie Database
- Winky Dink and You (1969) at the Internet Movie Database
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winky_Dink_and_You"
I'm working on mobile applications and mobile interfaces for standard applications now, and it's started a new part of my brain fizzing into connections with very interesting material. Interesting to me, anyway...
I was thinking about the history of interaction (or perhaps my history of interaction) and Winky Dink returned to me with a thump. Interaction is a concept, not a technology, and Winky Dink proved it. I probably remember it so vividly because I got quite a thump when my Dad saw my crayon drawing of a ladder on the TV set screen. Memorable. Maybe even PTSD memorable...I awake screaming from Star-Headed Alien nightmares...not really.
There are so few barriers to possibility in this new mobile universe (except for the 64x960 screen size). I'm reflecting on how very limiting technology capabilities have been on the ideas that we execute -- especially within a big corporate infrastructure. And shouldn't we be teaching classes on how constraining in-place corporate infrastructure can be in university CSEE programs? -- otherwise you only learn about it as your heart breaks professionally.
But mobile puts me outside of this pale -- I step away from the millstone. It also puts a lot more pressure on actual Web Services (documented and packaged, not just sketched and then embedded in a single use, or is that just us?).
But there is such freedom in this moment. Back to Winky Dink and the faceless millions who might be persuaded to draw the ladder on the screen. I think also of the cell phone symphonies. What can we do together across these devices? Wow.
Most things, the deeper you get into the minutia, the more mundane the affect, the more prosaic the whole thing becomes, but this is having the opposite effect on me. Even the nay-saying that comes from FUD doesn't extinguish the excitement. Wow.