At the height of the first Video Game Age – in the late 1970s and early 1980s – a local TV station, WPIX in New York City launched a game show called TV-PIXXX.
This “Ultimate New Game Show” aired on channel 11 (“11 Alive!”), often on afternoons following school. This particular game was apparently based on another telephone-based video game program called TV-POWWW, which first aired in Los Angeles on KABC-TV in 1978.
The TV-PIXXX program was hosted by Ralph Lowenstein, and lasted only a few minutes per episode, essentially running as filler between television series. But the premise of this game show was that the studio would telephone some kid at home while simultaneously broadcasting an Intellivision video game.
Once the game began, the contestant on the telephone would have to shout “Pixx!” at the appropriate moment to shoot a ball in a basketball hoop, or fire a laser in some Asteroids game knock-off.
I still possess vivid memories of hearing young contestants endlessly shout “Pixx!” at the TV screen on TV-PIXXX in hopes of winning a station-brand T-shirt or a ten-dollar savings bond.
Prospective contestants for the program had to send in stamped post-cards with their names and addresses printed on them if they hoped to be picked to play on the air.
I learned recently that there was no amazing technology behind TV-PIXXX. Instead, whenever the player shouted PIXXX, some operator in the studio just pressed a button of a joystick.
It seemed so much cooler than that back in the day.
Below, a retrospective of TV-PIXXX, an example of the game play, and then an original commercial from decades ago: