Posts Tagged ‘neal postman’

Remembering Quiz Wiz (Updated with Robot Goodness!)

29 March 2009 Leave a comment
Coleco's Quiz Whiz

Coleco's Quiz Wiz

When Neal Postman lamented in 1985’s Amusing Ourselves to Death that the American public had been inundated with so much useless triva courtesy of television information was no longer useful; it had been a long time since quiz shows were prevelant on the air waves, and the second iteration of Jeopardy! was just starting to become a hit. Of course, in the late 1970’s, I had absolutely no idea about any of this stuff. I was much more interested in toys, and toys that engaged me were where it was at.

One of my favorites was Coleco’s Quiz Wiz, which was given to me sometime in the very late 70’s. The one page on the Internet that had any information about the game identifies it as a product of the early 1980’s, but I was still living with my mother when I received it, so it was definitely the late 70’s.

Quiz Wiz was a cartridge-based handheld system, similar to Milton Bradley’s MicroVision, only without the display and recessed pad controller. Each cartridge came with a theme, such as History or Mathematics, and was accompanied by a booklet that contained 1001 questions of varying difficulty. You’d key in the question number and then provide your answer and it would let you know if you were right or wrong (I actually don’t remember how it did this, probably via beeps and boops).

Additional cartridge/booklets could be purchased seperately for a vaitety of themes. I don’t quite recall what those themes are, as we only had the initial cartridges, but according to the accompanying picture you could learn/quiz yourself on such topics as energy and the ocean.

Do you remember my name?

Do you remember my name? I am the 2-XL. Greetings!

Quiz Wiz was easily over-shadowed by the much more popular and robust robot quiz toy, the name of which I have long forgotten. It also used a cartridge system, and had all sorts of flashing lights and sounds. Despite its total cool factor, we never had one of these, and I’m kinda sad that we didn’t. If you remember anything about this toy, especially if you know its name, please post a comment!

Update: I should have Googled “quiz wiz coleco”! Here’s a page all about the toy:

Update #2: After hours, and I really do mean hours, of searching, I finally found the name of this toy robot!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the 2-XL from Mego! According to the Wikipedia article, those are actually 8-track tapes, not cartridges like the Quiz Wiz uses. I wonder if you could play actual 8-track audio cassettes on it [edit: according to the commercial (see below), you could dance groovy groovy in your bell bottoms while it played your music cartridges]. Tiger Electronics came out with a more Buck Rogers-looking version of the robot, using regular audio cassettes (then in vogue with home computers) rather than the long-dead 8-tracks.

Skooldays notes that the 8-tracks came in the following flavors, and also describes how it worked:

“Challenges of General Science,” “Guinness Book Of World Records” and “Wonders Of The World.”

The fun of 2-XL began when the user inserted a tape in the robot’s midsection and pressed a red button on the top of its head. Many tapes also came with special overlay cards that could be placed over the four buttons to make them game-specific. With a press of the “Question” button, 2-XL began its string of multiple choice and true/false kid-stumpers. Once a guess was entered, the 2-XL would make a few computer-style noises and tell the user whether their answer was right or not. It would also chime in some extra information on the topic in question.

So, there we have it. Mystery solved. I’d go to sleep now, only I have to start working in 40 minutes. But it was a hunt well won!