Chip In (ITV, 1983)
For a while now, I have wanted to do a piece about the wave of TV shows in the 80s that were about technology and home computing. I was thinking about doing a review of one of the more famous shows on this topic, such as Electric Avenue, 4 Computer Buffs, or Making The Most Of The Micro (all of which seemed to be hosted by Fred Harris). But then I recently came across another show on YouTube that is similar but little-known by comparison, and I thought that it was interesting enough to feature here.
Chip In was one of those shows that was in the adult education genre, although it was aimed at all ages really (credit goes to the uploader “Studio 213”). The show began with the Granada “G” symbol appearing in the opening sequence, where it features in a computer game and gets zapped, which was enough to get my attention and want to watch the rest of the show.
If you’re one of those people who has one of these new-fangled computers, but everything you do leads to the response “SYNTAX ERROR”, then this is the show that will help you to learn more about what you can achieve. You’ll go from being a novice to an expert in no time. The host of Chip In was Mark Gorton, accompanied by resident expert Jane Bird, editor of Personal Computer World, a magazine that ran for over 30 years.
This is a show that may look rather laughable now, but this was at a time when it was important to get people into computing, especially as the technology was evolving at a rather rapid speed. One of the regular features was the Chip In Challenge, where families played various games against the clock including Frogger, so fingers ready on joysticks. Regardless of who won, both families received a shiny trophy for their performances.
Also featuring on the show was advice on how computers can be used to make music from Chris Sievey (before he turned into Frank Sidebottom), how to write a computer program, how businesses are using technology, and a look at the future of gaming. Let’s hope you’ve got enough memory. There were also competitions for viewers to enter with some big prizes on offer, and some rather fancy blue-screen effects.
There were only five editions of Chip In, they ran to barely 20 minutes, and they were shown on Wednesday evenings in August 1983 in the Granada region (I’m fairly sure that it wasn’t shown in any other ITV region). The show was among those that paved the way for the next wave of shows about computing in the 90s including Bad Influence, Bits, and GamesMaster. It really is incredible how far we’ve come since then.