The Nostalgia Files: Electronic Detective

(This is the second post in a series detailing all those things I should have never thrown out from my childhood. Click here for the first.)

In the late 1970s, electronic games were the rage. Home-based video games hadn't quite taken their massive hold yet, but games that interacted back with their players gained popularity in an increasingly technological world. Simon, Mattel Football, Merlin, Electronic Battleship and Speak & Spell were among the games that bleeped and flashed into my generation's hearts.

And then there was Electronic Detective.

After seeing this commercial with Don Adams of "Get Smart" fame many times in 1979, I asked for the game for Christmas. Santa obliged.

Essentially, you solved a murder devised by the computer by questioning suspects with cute names (e.g. Candy Cane), who had their own file cards with questions. You typed in a question, Electronic Detective gave an answer. You marked off answers on a worksheet, and if you got daring, tried making an arrest. If you were successful, you won the game; if not, you heard a computerized dirge indicating you were shot dead and out of the game.

It was so much fun. I brought the game to my grandmother's house that Christmas day, where I played against my father and Aunt JoAnn. And I held my own, too -- I guess I had good logic skills at age 9.

Unfortunately, I don't know what happened to Electronic Detective. Maybe after I got an Atari, electronic games simply seemed quaint. Maybe it broke or that I was too uninspired to replace the batteries within it. Maybe I couldn't get anyone to play with me (I doubt my sister liked this game). Whatever reason, Electronic Detective disappeared from my life sometime in the 1980s.

This game is high on my list to re-own, but I'm a little nervous to buy one off eBay. An old electronic game might not hold up as well three decades later. I just looked up one listing on eBay, and it was missing all but one of the suspect cards. Still, the nostalgia would be thick when I do eventually purchase Electronic Detective, and it's a game that I suspect the boys, especially Ben, would enjoy when they get a little older. The beeps and red digital display await.


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