An 80's glimpse into the future

We got a Wii machine as a gift for our wedding a few months back, and I've been having fun tinkering with it and playing all sorts of games on it. Just read about how to play the original Duck Hunt on the Wii, so I was giving that the old college try. It's fun, but definitely not the same.

I have fond memories of playing Duck Hunt and holding the gun right up against the TV to "cheat," and still not being able to get past level 10 or so when grandpa, who hunts real ducks with real guns, came along, grabbed the gun, and wasted ducks like he was Rambo and killing was going out of style.

However, something occurred to me while playing this new version on the Wii... How the heck did the original Duck Hunt work?

This was the early 80s, before the iPod, before the World Wide Web, and before Jamaica had a bobsled team. We didn't have the cool techno-craziness we do now where we can push a button on our phones and cook dinner, mow the lawn and flush the toilet at the same time. We just had a big gray box called a Nintendo Entertainment System and an orange gun that looked like it belonged in a cartoon version of "Star Wars."

Well, apparently I'm not the only one who has wondered this. A quick Google search led me to my answer:
You think you're using the gun to shoot at the TV, right? But really the TV is shooting the gun.
Here's what happens. You shoot at a duck, which appears on an ordinary TV screen. The gun is connected to the game console; pressing the trigger blackens the screen, then causes a duck-shaped white target to appear momentarily. If your aim is true, a photo sensor in the gun detects the shift from dark to light, and bingo--dead duck. In short, the TV emits the light pulse and the gun detects it, not the other way around. [via The Straight Dope] 
It's when I find out about something like this -- a simple, yet ingenious trick that provided endless entertainment throughout my childhood and adult life -- that I wonder to myself if we as a species just aren't as creative as we used to be.
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