by Madison M. Sanders (1961)
In the half-century since the report above was created, there have been enormous changes in the world, not the least of which has been the emergence of inexpensive, enormously powerful digital devices.
As late as 2002, a respected report could bemoan what it called The Digital Disconnect: The widening gap between Internet-savvy students and their schools, which observed that students were informally learning at home what their tradition-bound schools were failing to integrate institutionally.
Even earlier, now almost a generation ago as this is written, the
personal computer had become a powerful tool for greatly increasing
quality and productivity in editing and publishing work. And so,
it was hardly a stretch to craft the parody television ad below in
1990, in which the impact of the digital revolution on the lives
of even elementary school children was anticipated. As one computer
here these days:
Let me tell you, that parody ad didn't go far enough. Not only were other kids
absolutely stupefied when presented with home-produced printed documents
featuring proportional fonts and bitmapped graphics [in 1984], the
teachers were, if possible, even more amazed.
Selected milestones and contemporary tools of digital technology, focusing espcially on the Internet, are collected for your edification here.
Aside: Design software I wrote for small kids a generation ago
I can add a personal testimony to the stories above about young children using powerful computer design software by the 1980s.
With sales of its PCjr computer disappointing, IBM withdrew the machine less than two years after its introduction, and tried to sell its inventory at deep discount to employees. I bought a unit under these favorable terms which I would pass on to others. But I was rather perplexed that there appeared to be no software which exploited the joysticks which enabled screen pointing, long years before mice became standard gear on other IBM PCs.
Thus in 1985 I spent my spare time over a few weekends one month to write a simple PCjr CAD/drawing program (aimed at small children who enjoyed "coloring books") for which the joystick was an essential tool. Named Leonardo Da Video, this software used the popular medieval hymn The Song of the Ass as splash-screen theme music. (I'll let you guess why.)
The program was readily learned and long enjoyed by several children under 10 years of age. Eventually I decided to donate a license to IBM as well, by posting the program on the PCTOOLS (virtual networked) disk used to share code worldwide within the firm. I would like to say it was the most popular download during its heyday, but alas, it only made the number two spot. Yet many correspondents e-mailed me, expressing their delight that at last the PCjr joysticks were useful for SOMETHING!
Apparently a fellow named Ed Hamrick later (circa 1994) wrote a painting program for the Atari which he also called Leonardo da Video, offering the apology that "hey, program names aren't my strong suit". I had not been that ashamed of the name, and in any event preferred it to the single alternative I had considered, RAMbrandt.