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This Month in Ed Tech History Archives

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January 1, 1980 - Brøderbund Software was founded in Eugene, Oregon, by Doug Carlston and Gary Carlston. The company was an American maker of computer games, educational software and The Print Shop productivity tools and best known as the original creator and publisher of the popular Carmen Sandiego games. The company moved to San Rafael, California, and later to Novato, California, and was purchased by The Learning Company in 1998.

January 17, 1984 - The Apple Macintosh was launched with a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl halftime. The commercial went on to win many advertising awards and the Macintosh gained market share on university campuses via the company's student purchase programs.


February 5, 1943 - Nolan K. Bushnell was born. He was the developer of the computer game Pong (1972) and developer of the Atari Video Computer System (later to become the Atari). Warner Communications (now Time Warner) bought Atari in August 1977.

February 15, 1934 - Niklaus Emil Wirth, developer of the Pascal programming language, was born in Switzerland. He was the chief designer of many programming languages taught in high school and college courses. He is credited with an adage known as Wirth's law: "Software is getting slower more rapidly than hardware becomes faster."

February 22, 1928 - Thomas Eugene Kurtz was born. In the 1963-64 school year, Dr. Kurtz and John Kemeny developed the first version of the Dartmouth Time-Sharing System, a system for university use, and the BASIC language. BASIC (Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) became a very popular programming language in grades 5-12.

February 29, 1928 - Seymour A. Papert, MIT mathematician, computer scientist, and educator, was born. Dr. Papert was a pioneer of artificial intelligence, as well as an inventor of the Logo programming language. He created Logo as a tool to improve the way that children think and solve the problems. He was one of the principals for the One Laptop Per Child initiative to manufacture and distribute laptops in developing nations. He has also collaborated with Lego on their Logo-programmable Lego Mindstorms robotics kits. In 1981, started Logo Computer Systems Inc., of which he was Board Chair for over 20 years. Working with LCSI, Papert designed a number of award-winning programs, including LogoWriter and Lego/Logo (marketed as Lego Mindstorms).


March 17, 1922 - Dr. Patrick Suppes, an early pioneer in Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI), was born on March 17, 1922. He founded the Computer Curriculum Corporation (CCC) in 1967 and it became one of the biggest names in education software. In 1990, it was acquired by Simon & Schuster, which later became part of Viacom Inc. One of CCC's major products - SuccessMaker - now exists as a technology solution from Pearson. Dr. Suppes contribution to education technology began in the 1960's at Stanford University when he and Richard Atkinson used computers to teach reading and math to children. Their first software ran on time-share computers, and students used dumb terminals connected to the software on a mainframe. For many years, CCC was one of the biggest names in educational software. Competitors at the time included Jostens Learning Co, WICAT Systems, and PLATO Learning.


April 1, 1976 - Apple Computer, Inc was founded in Cupertino, California by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne. The Apple I personal computer kit was hand built by Wozniak in Jobs' garage and on the market by the summer of 1976. The Apple II was introduced on April 16, 1977 and quickly became one of the first mass produced personal computers on the market. The company, known as Apple Inc since Jan. 9 2007, has branched out from personal computer hardware to software and electronic devices such as the iPod and iPhone. The Macintosh computer was introduced by the now famous television commercial, "1984" directed by Ridley Scott, and aired during Super Bowl XVIII.   In 2001 Apple introduced the iPod and followed by the iTunes online music store in 2003.


May 1, 1971 IBM announced the creation of the first floppy disk. The first "memory disk", as it was originally called, was 8 inches wide and held up to 81.6kb of data. The earliest floppies were write-only and were used to load and store a computer’s operating system. By 1976, the 8 inch floppy was too large for modern computing and Shugart Associates began marketing a smaller 5 ¼ inch floppy disk with a 98.5 KB storage capacity. The 5 ¼ inch disk reigned until 1982 when a committee of 23 media companies voted for a 3 ½ inch version. Throughout the 1990s the floppy faced increasing competition from CD-ROMs and then USB drives, but by 1996 there were still an estimated 5bn floppy disks in circulation. In March of 2010, Sony finally announced that it would cease production of the floppy disk within one year, effectively marking the end of an era in computer history.

May 15, 1927 - Bobby Goodson, known fondly as the "mother of computer education" was born. Bobby taught in the Cupertino schools and convinced her junior high school to purchase three 16K Apple microcomputers after she saw the prototype of the machine. She along with Bay Area educators formed "Computer Using Educators' - an association now known as CUE. Bobby was president of ICCE (International Council for Computers in Education) in 1984.

May 31, 1926 - John Kemeny was born in Budapest, Hungary. With Dr Kurtz, they invented the well-known BASIC programming language in 1964, as well as one of the world's first timesharing systems, the Dartmouth Time-Sharing System (DTSS). In 1983, they cofounded a company called True Basic Inc. to market True BASIC, an updated version of the language.

May 1983 - The "Kids Can't Wait" program was announced in May 1983. Steve Jobs wanted to donate a computer to every school in America (then numbering about a hundred thousand), but instead gave away ten thousand computers to the elementary schools in the State of California. Software companies and education publishers partnered with Apple Computer and donated software and teaching materials to support the implementation work in the schools.


June 8, 1955 - Tim Berners-Lee was born. Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee is credited with inventing the World Wide Web. While working at CERN in 1989, he proposed a project, based on the concept of hypertext, to facilitate sharing and updating information among researchers. On Christmas Day 1990, he implemented the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the Internet. The first Web site built was at CERN and was first put online on August 6, 1991.

June 25, 1979 - The first National Educational Computing Conference was held in June 25- 27, 1979 in Iowa City. The conference was created to replace the tenth Conference on Computers in Undergraduate Curricula, (CCUC) in an effort to expand the scope of information covered.  The first conference was chaired by Ted Sjoerdsma and covered a hardware debate: on micros vs. minicomputers, the development of educational software: CAI, CMI, simulations for subject specific uses (math, science, social sciences, health, engineering) and defining teacher competencies for pre-service, in-service training.  The conference, now run by ISTE (the International Society for Technology in Education), celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2009, in Washington, DC.


July 9, 1971 - Marc Andreesen, co-author of Mosaic, the first widely-used web browser, was born. Andreesen's creation was a user-friendly browser with integrated graphics that worked with a wide range of computers. The company, which he along with Jim Clark founded, was originally named Mosaic but the University of Illinois was unhappy with the company's use of the name so it was changed to Netscape.

July 18, 1968 - The Intel Corporation was founded by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore. Intel was an early developer of SRAM and DRAM memory chips and created the first commercial microprocessor chip in 1971. Since 1971 Intel has become the world's largest computer chip manufacturer and the dominant supplier of microprocessors for PCs. The company is credited for developing the x86 series of microprocessors, found in most personal computers. Intel also makes motherboard chipsets, network cards and ICs, flash memory, graphic chips, embedded processors, and various other computer-related devices.


August 11, 1950 - Birth of Stephen Gary "Woz" Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computer, Inc. (along with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne. Wozniack's machines are labeled major contributors to the personal computer revolution of the 1970s. Wozniak assembled the first Apple computer board prototypes in Jobs' bedroom and later moved work to Jobs' garage. He created the Apple I and Apple II computers in the mid-1970s with the Apple II gaining gross popularity as one of the best selling personal computers of the 70s and early 1980s. Wozniak permanently ended his full-time employment with Apple on February 6, 1987, 12 years after co-founding the company with Jobs. He remains an employee and shareholder in the company, now known as Apple, Inc.


September 7, 1918 - Birth of Sylvia Charp, a consultant on the use of technology in education for both educational institutions and companies planning and implementing technology training. Organizations and companies Charp worked with include: Bell Atlantic, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett Packard, Digital Corporation, New York Institute of Technology, University of Hartford, University of Delaware and the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE). Charp also served as the as Editor-in-Chief of T.H.E. Journal and as a founding member of the board of the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Group. Sharp died on August 23, 2003.

September 18, 1926 - Birth of Alfred Bork, a pioneer in the field of education technology. Bork specialized in interactive techniques for learning and the application of graphics and multi-media to learning. He created systems for interactive instruction and was influential in education policy. Bork maintained that technological approaches to teaching and learning would become inevitably more cost-effective than traditional practices. Bork was Professor Emeritus of Information and Computer Science and Physics at the University of California, Irvine. While at UC, Irvine, he founded and acted as director of the Educational Technology Center which focused on research and development of technology-based learning materials. 
Bork died on December 18, 2007.

September 20, 1950 - Birthday of Vicki Smith Bigham, a consultant in the education industry and President of Bigham Technology Solutions. Over the course of her thirty-five year career, Vicki Bigham has contributed to the ed tech industry by helping educators embrace technology and developing education materials for publishers. She has worked as a teacher, software developer, school administrator, university professor and industry consultant to multiple SIIA members. Bigham is a founding member and former President of the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA), and has also served as President of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Today she manages the annual EdNET Conference for MDR and is well known for her weekly "She Snoops for Scoops" column.


October 28, 1955 - Birth of Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen. During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of CEO and chief software architect, and remains the largest individual shareholder with more than 8 percent of the common stock. Bill Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January, 2000. He remained as chairman and created the position of chief software architect. In June, 2006, Gates announced that he would be transitioning from full-time work at Microsoft to part-time work and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He gradually transferred his duties to Ray Ozzie, chief software architect and Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer. Gates's last full-time day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008. He remains at Microsoft as non-executive chairman.

October 1978 - The Learning Campany incorporated. The Learning Company (TLC), an American educational software company, was incorporated in California in October 1978 as Micropro International Corp. TLC is best known for its line of educational children's software, most notably the Reader Rabbit series of learning. In 1991, Reader Rabbit 1won Technology & Learning Magazine's Language Arts Program of the Decade and the following year Reader Rabbit 2 won a Parents' Choice Foundation Award, the Software Publishers Association's Award for Best Elementary Education Product, and Technology & Learning Magazine's Award of Excellence. In 1995 a "bidding war" took place between Brøderbund and SoftKey, with the latter eventually acquiring TLC for $606 million in cash. SoftKey took up The Learning Company's name with the acquisition. Mattel purchased the company in 1999 for $3.8 billion, renaming it "Mattel Interactive". TLC, along with Brøderbund, is now a subsidiarie of Riverdeep. As of December 17, 2008, TLC closed their online store, leaving their products to be found at retail stores and other online distributors.


November 3, 1936 - Birth of David Moursund of ISTE. In 1979, Moursund founded the International Council for Computers in Education (ICCE) which became the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in 1989 when it merged with the International Association for Computing in Education. Moursund was the Executive Officer of the organization from 1979 to 1998. He then served as ISTE's Executive Officer for Research and Development from June 1998 to the end of March 2001. Moursund is a founding member of the Board of the Mathematics Learning Center and has served on the Board in a variety of capacities for many years, most recently as Chair of the Board, with this term ending in January 2005. He also started the periodical Oregon Computing Teacher in May 1974. Mousund received the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education Lifetime Achievement Award at its March 2002 annual conference.


December 1982 - John Warnock and Charles Geschke created Adobe Systems Inc. Prior to co-founding Adobe, Warnock worked for Geschke at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Unable to convince Xerox management of the approach to commercialize Warnock's InterPress graphics language for controlling printing, the two left Xerox to start Adobe in 1982. At their new company, they developed an equivalent technology, PostScript, from scratch, and brought it to market for Apple's LaserWriter in 1984. Warnock outlined a system called "Camelot" that evolved into the Portable Document Format (PDF) file-format. Adobe's PostScript technology made it easier to print text and images from a computer, revolutionizing media and publishing in the 1980s.

December 3, 1971 - Oregon Trail first shown to students. The Oregon Trail Game was developed in 1971 by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger. The then, three student teachers at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, created the initial product on a mainframe computer. The game was then produced by Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium in 1974. Inspiration for the game came from the real Oregon Trail and was designed to teach school children about the life of a 19th century pioneer on the trail. In 1974 Rawitsch took a job at Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, a state-funded organization that developed educational software for the classroom. He uploaded his game into the organization's network where it could be accessed by schools across Minnesota.It proved so popular that in 1985The Oregon Trail was released and sold on floppy disk nationwide.