Whatever happened to …

… Bits and Bytes?

If you watched TVOntario in the 1980s, here’s your ear worm for this Sunday morning.

This was cutting edge stuff.  I remember having access to the entire series available through the library at school for my classroom.  It was also something that I watched on television at home.  There was something very unique about learning about computers on television.

It was actually very timely for those of us computer geeky types who had programmed computers and mini-computers at university.  The whole world of micro-computers was new to us.

Plus, I loved Luba Goy and Billy Van.  In the series, Luba came across as so smart and computer knowledgeable.  Billy came across as the eager learner, asking the silly questions that we all wish we could ask but were afraid to.  Were they the original digital native / digital immigrant?  Watch the entire video and see.

The full list of episodes is listed on Wikipedia and, of course, you can view them through the magic of YouTube.  I’m struck by the titles to the episodes.  They are very important as you learn the basics and the concepts certainly apply today.

Screenshot 2017-09-16 at 09.25.16.png

All of the shows are embedded within this YouTube Search.  I found it interesting (and amusing) to revisit the shows.

The Commodore PET, Radio Shack TRS-80 and the other equipment just seems to antiquated by today’s standards!  But I used them all.

And yet, despite the chuckles I gave here as I watched, this was terrific personal learning at the time.  Dare I admit that I learned quite a bit from the programs?  As a classroom teacher, watching Billy struggle with the jargon and the foreign technology was illuminating.  Were my students struggling to learn how to operate these “new to them” devices in the same way?

How about you?  For this Sunday morning, please share some thoughts.

  • Did you ever watch the Bits and Bytes show?
  • How about the Royal Canadian Air Farce?
  • Would you use a television show like this in your classroom to teach concepts?
  • Would the content taught in these shows stand up to a 2017 fact check?
  • Is there a similar educational television show that you do use?
  • Speaking of this, is educational television dead? Have we migrated from the 30 minute show to the 3 minute online video?
  • Could you see your own students creating a video demonstrating or teaching concepts of today’s technology using the same format?

As always, I’d enjoy reading your thoughts.  C’mon, if you watched that clip above, you can at least take a moment to leave a thought!

The complete collection of posts in this series is available here.

Got an idea for a future post?  Add it to this padlet.

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

2 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. I remember Bits and Bytes (as well as the snack food of the same name … “next handful, a whole new ballgame!”) and Luba Goy from the Royal Canadian Air Farce, but Billy Van was much more present when I was a kid and in my early years as a teacher.

    You likely recall Billy Van from a whole slew of Canadian and American variety shows — Party Game (charades), The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show, Sonny and Cher, Bizarre with John Byner etc.. But I recall seeing him first on the kids’ television show The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, where he played Count Frightenstein, along with most of the other characters. In later years I recall being amazed to learn that horror icon Vincent Price flew in to film all of his segments for the series during one sitting.

    When I first started teaching, the TVO science series Eureka! was a favourite because the short episodes were great for introducing and reviewing key concepts in an entertaining way. Billy Van both narrated and voiced the series — and (news to me!) as I check the Wikipedia entry now, I see Luba Goy is also credited. Maybe SHE was the one who did the voices of the cartoon characters!? Seeing the cartoon elements in the Bits and Bytes clip brought back memories of Eureka, as clearly the same animators were employed for both series. I had the whole series on video tape from our media centre, and even went to far as to try digitizing some of them at one point. Sadly, the poor quality of the re-recorded video also transferred out of the VCR and into the digital medium. It would be great to find them online somewhere in pristine format. I’m sure that the Physics is still accurate. 😉

    I really enjoy these Sunday morning “Whatever Happened To …” pieces, Doug! I’ve learned that it’s best to get up and do my reply on the computer, as it is quick to type, and I don’t need to worry as much about losing my entire reply. More than once (say four to five times) I’ve lost my multiple-paragraph response in the comment field on my iPad or phone. I’ve taken to composing in a gDoc as a result.

  2. I’m sorry that you’ve had challenges with replies, Andy. I’ve actually had the same experiences on various other websites. I’ve got into the habit of CTRL-A, CTRL-C before posting the comment so that I can repeat the process if necessary. There seems to be this nether world at times. Heaven help you if you do something that’s considered spam. It’s just gone until the operator decides to check the spam folders.

    Thanks for naming those other shows, Andy. You’ve given me some things to look for today.

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