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A 


COMPUTER 

ENTHUSIASTS 


LLDM^TOM 


PRESIDENT: Mr M Munro 
Tolophono: 703-363 

SECRETARY: Mr D Rove 
Telephone: 736-716 

P.O.Box 16011 


Wellington Atari Computer Enthusiasts 


JULY, 1335 

Dea r members, 

Herewith the URGE 'news 1 et t€*r for July , 1385. Quite a lot has 
happened over the last month, so lets rio into ? review of the Past 
.and of the future. 


THE “BITS RHP BYTES" SHOU 

How ms ny sot to the show? Those who didn't fiisse-d the- ent ra.nc in a 
s i a ht o f Coamodo re p 1y i n-3 second f i dd 1 e to Rtr i. fit'out time, ftt 
last. Atari-‘s ever-present technical supe riority is be-ins complemented 
by a Price advantage. The next six months or so will be Atari's, and 
that -aives me a nice- warm feel ins. This happiness is- made- al l the- more 
i n t e n s- e b e c a u. s e t ft e s o f t w a r e d r o u. -a h t o f t h e- 1 a st ye a r is- b r e a. k i n a -a. s- 
t h e m a n u. f a c t u res r e a a. i n t- h e i r c o n f i d e n c e i n A t a r j •' f u. t n. re-. N o t 
everythin* in the -aarden is rosy, but at least the aorse and 
b 1 ack be r ry have been cu.t- back to s i ze 1 


NEXT MEETING 

Members are summoned once as a in to the "Loaves and Fishes" where.* 
be-a inn in-a at 7.29 pm on the 14 fiu.-aust, minor "miracles" will be 
performed. Scheduled so far are : 

Ross Palmer's dissertation on Dos XL. This should be -aood : it was 
Ross's assessment that Dos 2 was superior to Dos 3 that Persuaded your 
committee to adhere to the earlier ope rat in-a system; 

Karl Bette1heimvs explanation of how he uses "Atariwriter" in the 
p r e p a r a t i o n o f 1 o n -a a r t i c 1 e s a n d t h e 1 i k e; 


Demonstrations of the 

am 

■:;t club tape and disk as ! 

wcl 1 of some 

commercial software- ( 

and 

haven - ' t Prices a one- down 

over recent 

weeks ?)> 




The ..i oy st i ck di a a nost 

1 C: 

paddle makins workshop- 

(refer to the last- 


n e w s 1 e t-1 e r f o r d e t a i 1 s-); 

of course, the book and pro-aramme libaries will be there for raidin-a, 
as will our new service to members, which is. : 


THE CARTRIDGE LIBRARY 

Your committee Promised, some months a so, to set up such a 
library. Ron Pyne is in char as- and currently he has six cartridges 
available for lend ins at f 5. Q0 per month < should one- be lost or 
damaged then the borrower is- required to replace it). Available at 
present are : 

S p a c e I n v a d e r s 
Mu.sic Com po se r 
Com p ute r Chess 
Missile Command 
ft s- f. e r o i d s, a n d 
Pit Stop 

More will be added as funds Permit or as members donate 
u. n d e r - u. s e d c -a. r t r 1 d a e s. 


their old. 






CLUB DISKS 

The contents of Disk #7 are not known at present (.although the 
new Atari Dos 02.3) will be on it) but we have’ every reason to believe 
that another -good disk will be made available. I would very much like 
to p ut 1 oca 1.1 y w r i 11 e n p ro a r am me s on ou r d i sk s , s o j, f a ny others wou 1 d 
like to emulate Keith Hobde-n or Bernard Kerr.* then let me know. I can 
not offer either fame or fortune but a free cony of the disk might be 
suf f icient re-ward. . . 

Copies of Past disks will be available at the meetins or from the 
undersigned at 63 Cecil Rd. • We 11 i ns ton at Tly.00 each. 

I should be -grateful to learn if there is a significant demand 
for an "Educational" Disk". There are a number of -good Programmes 
around that could feature 1 on such a disk. 

OTHER MATTERS 

Neil Upton will have blank disks for sale at prices that will 
more than match those charged for "Le Floppies" by L V Martins. 

Karl Lewis i ph 862 475) would like to buy an Atari 1820 colour 
printer--'pl otter or another cheap Atari compatible printer. 

Thsts it.' see you all on 14 August.' 


D es R o w e b e c r e t a r y . 1 


Editorial 

This month I have used the SPeedscriPt 3.0 word processor from 
Computes May 1985 issue. You shouldn't see anything differant about 
the printing here.' but the use of it for writing artic 1 es is 
excellent. 

Y o u r editor has now sot a p rinte r o f his own. making the 
compiling of the newsletter a much easier task. This also means that 
contributions can now be sent to me on disk or ta. pc .* rather than 
already printed. I don-'t mind which word processor you use to prepare 
your articles, as SPeedscriPt 3.0 will handle the lot. By having the 
newsletter coming off one printer, it should mean a more standard 
f o r m a t, a. n d p r i n t f o n t a p p e a r i n g. 

This does not mean that you can't send in magazine articles and 
the like, as they make up a significant portion of the newsletter. 

Also, Please don't get upset if your contribution does not appear 
in the next newsletter. From time to time, I get a few articles build 
ijn, .q-fid as we have a restriction ot approx 1’2 pages Per newsletter 
( H n ij. h 1 <=■ i d e d ), n o t e v e r y t h i n g c a. n b e i n c 1 u d e d. 

The cut-off for submissions is the fridgy one and a half weeks 
before a club meeting, ie. the next cut-off is the 38th August. 

Send your articles to me : 

c/— Databank Systems Ltd 
175 The Terrace 
We 111 n-3 ton, 


B ruce 


Tinsley (Editor) 





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■■ We have noticed that some of the most -interesting new _ 
atari oroorLs will not run on those 400/800's that have the 

^' :ari ^ ® ■ _ 4 .U .0 »r»• pnm or the XL system to work as 

"A" Rom.They require the B Rom or me ai_ sy 

intended. -y * “ 


It’s no -fun buying a new program only to -find out that 

your, not going to able to use it. Bo, it we -find enough 

Interest !we'h try to get hold of "S" Roms for you. But 
bo , nre we get to that Stage we’d like anyone w.th a ~ Rom 
to phone Roger Shepherd (w. %-&6-64<? > so that he can as . a 
■few questions about it. 

How do you test your computer quickiy^ to find whether 

vou have an a"A" or a "B" Rom? Simply type in PRINT FE-k 

( / 55 r,o) If you get " 214" as your response, then you have an 
••A” . ii*. ?4" - 4en you have a "B". If something else, you 
may have a »C" , or hays found .nether reason to oal! Roger ! 


Mike Munro 


LOST YOUR 
SOFTWARE? 

You need SOFT FINDER, the 
composite index to articles 
published in: 

ANALOG COMPUTING 

ANTIC 

COMPUTE! 

Eugene ACE Newsletter 

Soft Finder is available as a data base on disk 
or as a printed index. 

Volume!: Feb-81 thru June-83. 

Volume 2: Jul-83 thru Dec-84. 

That’s right! In just two volumes you get 
categorized, alphabetized references to 
everything you ever wanted to know about 
your Atari* computer. No more hunting ] 
through sucks of magazines trying to find 
that article you think (hope) you saw once 
upon a time. 

One very important feature of Soft Finder 
is that entries for articles include references 
to follow up corrections and improvements. 

Only $12.00 per disk or $7.00 per printed 
copy. Add $1 per item for foreign shipping. 

•Atari is a trademark of Atari Corp. 

VdllpV k 2660SWDeArtnond 

Soft^ Corvallis, OR 97333 


w-c- 




(U. 






JENNY* S BITS OF NEWS FOR AUGUST 

15 play buttons for 1010 recorders sold very quickly. I shall get 
more (the price is *£.90 including tax) but there will be a delay of 
some weeks. This is poors I shall tell Monaco as much. 

Replacement ribbon cartridges for Logitec printers are available at 
*35.00 to club members. 

As I have printer paper* and don’t know whether Chris followed up the 
letter in last month’s newsletter* I’ll bring some packets of 250 
sheets to the club meeting at about the same prices *7.50 for 250 
sheets. Best to ring me beforehand if you need some. 

With luck I’ll have an AXIOM direct-connect DM printer to demonstrate 
by the September meeting. 

Logo is apparently still on sale without manuals. Don’t buy it: it 
should soon be available with manuals. But if you have it already 
and want to photocopy the manuals or buy alternative books, ask me 

for help. 

Those who were dismayed to hear that memory upgrades for the 600XL 
were going off the market should note that our good friends at 
Computer Palace are advertising a Microbits 64K module as a Special 
at *89.95(US). Microbits products are good (some of us have their 
interface) and the NZ dollar is in good heart. 


Here is a little history of my company, Classroom Computers Ltd, 
for the benefit of neu members. 

Hhen several families got together at the end of 1981 and 
ordered Atari computers, I Has the one uho subsequently went into the 
educational languages, first PILOT and then Logo ; bought books and 
Logo journals from the US and later from British publishers-, and 
began in September 1983 to demonstrate Atari computers and Logo in 
primary schools as a registered retailer. Hhile I don't carry a 
range of stock as my competitors do, I try to make up for this in 
personal service, especially in the educational field. I'm alnays 
glad to help club members - and if your children's primary school 
starts to talk about computers, you are urged to give them a little 
push in my direction. 

P — CLASSROOM COMPUTERS LTD., 

Jenny Chisholm f r 13 WAY, WILTON, 

729.866 { \ lyci , iwcTfikl G TFI 




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THE #1 MAGAZINE FOR ATARI' COMPUTER OWNERS 


















TUB NEW YORK TIMES 
TUESDAY. IULY l mS 


PERIPHERALS 


Miniature Hard Drive Fits on a Card 


By PETER H. LEWIS 


E VEN in the constantly shrink¬ 
ing world of computers, 
where a silicon chip the size 
of a fingernail can be etched 
with electronic pathways more com¬ 
plex than a street map of New York 
City, some technological feats are as¬ 
tonishing. . 

The latest achievement in this 
realm is a miniaturized 10-megabyte 
hard disk drive that fits on a standard 
plug-in board, ready to be slipped into 
any expansion slot on an I.B.M. PC or 
compatible computer. 

It is as if someone had found a way 
to fit a Boeing 767 into a standard one- 
car garage. Hard disks can fly faster 
and carry much more data than 
floppy disks, but just a few years ago 
they took up more space than the 
computers they served. 

This tiny new hard drive system, 
called the Hardcard. was developed 
by Plus Development Corporation 
(1778 McCarthy Boulevard, Milpitas, 
Calif. 95035, telephone 408-946-3700). 
Company officials say it will be on the 
market in October with a suggested 
price of $1,095. 

The Hardcard consists of a three- 
and-a-half-inch hard disk drive unit 
that takes up half the 13-inch by 4-inch 
plug-in card, yet it is only one inch 
thick, so it can snuggle between any 


other boards in a computer’s row of 
internal expansion slots. The rest of 
the card is given over to the elec¬ 
tronic controllers that negotiate traf¬ 
fic between the minidrive and the 
mother machine. The whole package 
weighs just two pounds and is light¬ 
weight in power consumption as well. 

It is designed to be a strong welter¬ 
weight in performance, however, zip¬ 
ping through data faster than the 
bulkier hard drives that are standard 
on the I.B.M. PC XT. 

According to early reports, the 
Hardcard is simple to install. Unlike 
conventional hard drive units, it re¬ 
quires no extra hardware, no wiring, 
no switch-throwing and no magical 
incantations about formatting and 
partitioning, the usual bugaboos of 
hard disks. The software instructions 
that tell the computer how to use the 
small but powerful new storage de¬ 
vice are built in, so the user simply 
boots it up—hits the buttons that load 
the program into the machine’s mem¬ 
ory — and gets ready for takeoff. 
Once installed, there is no need to use 
a special boot disk each time the ma¬ 
chine is turned on. 

A built-in file management pro¬ 
gram enables users to sort through 
the 10 megabytes of data — equal to 
about 6,000 typed, double-spaced 
pages — quickly and easily. 

The prospect of turning a PC into 
an XT, or doubling the storage ca¬ 


pacity of an XT, or plugging a hard 
drive into a Compaq portable for less 
than $1,100 is appealing. But even 
more tantalizing is the prospect that 
this tiny hard disk drive may soon be 
built into laptop computers. 


Down, Down, Down _ 

While the miniaturization of com¬ 
puters is impressive, size is only one 
aspect of the amazing advances in the 
computer industry. 

In their book “Insights Into Per¬ 
sonal Computers’’ ($29.50 from IEEE 
Press, the publishing wing of the In¬ 
stitute of Electrical and Electronics 
Engineers). Amar Gupta and Hoo- 
Min D. Toong of the Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology calculated 
that each year since 1960 the price of 
computer chips has fallen by 25 per¬ 
cent and the cost of memory by 40 
percent; while speed has increased 
by a factor of 200. In the same period, 
the overall cost, energy consumption 
and size of computers of equal power 
have declined by a factor of 10,000. 

“If the aircraft industry had 
evolved a spectacularly as the com¬ 
puter industry over the past 25 
years,” the authors write, “a Boeing 
767 would cost $500 today, and it 
would circle the globe in 20 minutes 
on five gallons of fuel.” 



^What Socrates Might Say 2 - „■ ; 
abbut Computere! - 

\ _vgducatpfshayejqnaj»ns?d the power of 
c theTidfiipjtSrTcfirevolutionize Jheir prof es- 
-»skM^butthey<to not all embrap lt^wfth en- 
JThusSinji.lt was the" fame jvitn ttse begin¬ 
nings of the book, in ancient Athens when 
writing was the exciting new technology, the 
philosopher Socrates warned his students 
that the written word would create forgetful¬ 
ness in the learners’ souls and cause them 
to lose their memories. Practicing what he 
preached, Socrates never wrote a line. His 
works might never have had the monumental 
impact they did if his admirers had not disre¬ 
garded his strictures against writing. Perhaps 
some of today's professors with little regard 
for the computer will be remembered in the 
future only because their words and thoughts 
are accessible through computerized data 
banks.” 

Edward Cornish in Los Angeles Times 
7 Dec 84, p. 8, Pt. V-A [pd 0511j] 










Home-Computer Concerns 


Search for a 

By John Marcom Jr. 

Special to The Asian Wall Stkeet Journal 
CHICAGO — When was the last time a 
computer game made you cry? Charlie 
Kellner, a computer programmer, says that 
question illustrates the challenge in 
restoring the sizzle to the home-computer 
business. 

Mr. Kellner, who develops new games 
for Lucasfilm Ltd., thinks the answer lies in 
more elaborate and realistic animation, 
with complex characters who do unexpected 
things and “involve" players. 

“We want to create a world of much 
wider complexity, like a 90-minute movie 
experience,” he says. “It’s one thing to 
compete with video games, but it’s quite 
another to compete with movies.” 

Restoring sizzle preoccupies home- 
computer makers, who turned out in consid¬ 
erably diminished force for the semi-annual 
Consumer Electronics Show here this week. 
The industry group sponsoring the show 
expects home-computer sales to drop 9% 
this year to 4.5 million, and those attending 
the show found little among the wares on 
display or the gossip circulating on the floor 
to suggest an imminent turnaround. 

But the companies that hang on for a 
year or two might get the kind of help Mr. 
Kellner is talking about — from Japan. 
Japan’s electronics industry is working on a 
range of video and digital audio gear that 
would allow consumers to use computers to 
play and work with much more realistic 
sound and pictures — and do it all using a 
single system of components. 

Many within the industry envision a 
gradual convergence of home-electronics 
products, this year valued at $32 billion at 
retail, into one gigantic business. By about 
1999, PaineWebber Inc. analyst Lee S. Isgur 
expects a tidal wave “that will wash over 
all that has gone before and sweep various 
unrelated items into a single entity.” 

An Easy Versatility 
Consumers eventually could switch from 
music to video-taped movies to computer 
programs much as they switch from FM to 
records to tapes on a hi-fi component sys¬ 
tem. Mr. Isgur regards a $1,200 Pioneer 
Electronic Corp. machine that can play 
both the company's LaserVision videodisks 
and compact digital audio disks as the first 
of a new generation of products. The ma¬ 
chine comes with an outlet for connecting a 
personal computer — although Pioneer isn’t 
promoting any computer features. 

A big first step toward, making comput¬ 
ers a part of these systems is expected 
within a year: accessories that allow com¬ 
puters to read compact disks. The same 
hard plastic disk used by the new digital 
audio players can store more than 500 
million pieces of computerized information, 
hundreds of times more than the largest 
floppy disks used by computers today. 


Little Sizzle 

i 

They will be read by the new accessories 
— maybe eventually by machines that can 
play audio disks, videodisks and software j 

disks interchangeably. f 

Some software companies are working j 

on compact-disk products. Spinnaker i 

Software Corp. expects compact disks to 
allow it to offer more-realistic programs, 
adding hundreds of still video images and 
resonant digital sounds to computer games. 

The disks mark "the real beginning of the 
whole process of merging into one medi¬ 
um." says Spinnaker Chairman William H. 
Bowman. 

Software companies already have mar¬ 
ried text and computer graphics to create 
what they call “interactive" fiction, in 
which players — readers — work out 
mysteries and science-fiction adventures ! 
from clues given by the computer. The next 
step, with better video pictures and fancier 
sound, and more powerful computers and 
software, is the interactive movie. 

Cautious Japanese 

Though Japan's lock on audio and video 
home-electronics products could give it an 
edge in the computers that work with it. 
Japanese companies are being coy about 
computers. 

The Japanese-made MSX computers 
shown at the winter electronics show in Las 
Vegas probably won’t be sold in the U.S., j 
concedes Kazuhiko Nishi, a Microsoft Corp. ( 
executive who promoted MSX software as a 
standard for Japanese companies. j 

Sony Corp. says U.S. market conditions 
aren't auspicious. “We still don’t know what 
is the future of the home computer,” says 
president Norio Ohga. 

But Spinnaker’s Mr. Bowman thinks the 
Japanese are preparing to pounce, with 
computers that serve as one more compo¬ 
nent in complete home-entertainment 
systems. I 

The spread of stereo television broad¬ 
casting in the U.S. may generate strong 
replacement demand for TVs, offering Ja¬ 
panese makers a chance to push their 
concept of components. Component TVs, 
already being sold by most makers, can 
plug into compact disk players and comput¬ 
ers as well as stereo amplifiers and 
speakers. ! 

Such items wouldn’t make existing ; 
equipment obsolete overnight because most 
products in recent years have been designed 
to work as components. The newest of the 
gadgets that plug into the integrated sys¬ 
tems cost more than $1,000 but as with 
previous Japanese-developed products, 
prices are expected to plummet as sales 
grow. 

Some disk players are down to less than 
S200 from near $1,000 two years ago, and ; 
U.S. sales are expected^to triple to 600,000 
this year. 


1 

V 

IBM Claims Advcmce 

In Speech Computers 

& »» . 

Special to Tub Akian Wall Street Jotwnal 

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS. New York - 
International Business Machines Corp. 
said its scientists here achieved “a major 
advance" in computer speech recognition 
that could be used in creating business 
documents. 

The computer giant, based in Armonk, 
said users of the experimental system 
speak — with a short pause between words. 
— into a microphone linked to a computer" 
screen. The system contains a 5,000-word 
business vocabulary,' and can identify 
more than 95% of the words spoken if they 
are in the vocabulary. The words then are 
displayed on the, screen for editing by 
voice or keyboard. i‘ *> ■ ! 

The system “trains" itself by listening 
to the user read a standard text for 20 
minutes. It can usually distinguish be¬ 
tween similar words, such as "to,” 
“too," and “two,” from the context in 
which they are used, IBM said. 

A spokesman declined to predict when 
the experimental system might become 
commercially available. 


KAY—Mathematics for Computer 
Programmers. 

C (56214-0) 

CHRISTINE BENEDYK KAY, M.S., DeVry 

Institute of Technology (304 pp., 19S4) 

Covers those aspects of mathematics needed 
by a programmer from a computer-science view¬ 
point. Aims to develop understanding of mathe¬ 
matical concepts so that readers can develop 
algorithms for computerized calculanons. 
Avoids rigorous formulas and includes notations 
geared to programmers, not mathematicians. 
Stressing step-by-step algorithm development, 
this text develops flowcharting as a program¬ 
ming tool. Includes sample problems, chapter 
questions, and graphs. TEACHER’S MANUAL 
AND SOLUTIONS MANUAL ARE AVAILABLE 
CONTENTS: NUMBER SYSTEMS: 
Sets. Integer and Real Number Sets. Format 
Arithmetic. ALGORITHMS: Solving Problems 
Using Input, Process, and Output. Algorithms. 
Flowcharts. ALGEBRAIC APPLICATIONS 
FOR PROGRAMMING: Language of Algebra. 
Algebraic Expressions of “Not Equal.” Expo¬ 
nents. Equations. ADVANCED ALGEBRA 
CONCEPTS. Quadratic Equations, linear 
Equations. Linear Programming. Functions. Se¬ 
quence and Subscripted Variables. Matrices. 
BINARY SYSTEMS: Number Base Concepts. 
Binary, Octal, and Hexadecimal Numbers. Com¬ 
puter Codes. BOOLEAN ALGEBRA CON¬ 
CEPTS: Mathematical Logic. Boolean Aigebra 
and Computer Logic. 


THE HEW YORK TIMES, TUESDAY, JULY 9, 1995 



Escapist Software 


By PETER H. LEWIS 


Golden Oldies Already 

They just don’t make software like 
they used to. For those who remem¬ 
ber how they used to make it, this is 
welcome news. Still, there are some 
wistful souls who yearn for the good 
old days of the personal computer in¬ 
dustry’s infancy, and for them there 
is - “Computer Software Classics, 
Golden Oldies Volume One” ($29.95 
for I.B.M. PC and compatibles, Apple 
II series. Atari and Commodore, 
from Software Country, 270 North 
Canon Drive, No. 1297, Beverly Hills, 
Calif. 90210, telephone 213-278-8450). 

This floppy disk and paperback 
book combination brings together 
four great “hacks” that excited the 
imaginations of early hobbyists. 

9Pong, created by A1 Alcorn in 
1972, is the • granddaddy of video 
games. By today’s standards it is 
crude, simply two paddles that can be 
moved up ami down to swat a dot of 
light back and forth, but after all 
these years it is still addictive. It 
plays reasonably well on a mono¬ 
chrome monitor even without a 
graphics card or joysticks. 


9 Adventure, created by Will 
Crowther and Don Woods, was the 
first popular interactive fiction 
game. The computer creates an 
elaborate fantasy world of dark 
caves, mazes, treasures, pirates, 
wicked trolls and other hazards, and 
the player enters and moves about 
within the story through a series of 
two-word, verb-noun commands, 
such as “Go south” or “Open door.” 

<ILife, created by John Horton Con¬ 
way in 1970, is a game so alluring that 
the careers of many computer gen¬ 
iuses were derailed for months at a 
time as they became obsessed with 
the theory and artistic beauty of it. 

«JEliza was created by Dr. Joseph 
Weizenbaum of the Massachusetts In¬ 
stitute of Technology in 1966 as an ex¬ 
periment in artificial intelligence, in 
this case mimicking *a Rogerian 
therapist. Here is a transcript of a re¬ 
cent session with Eliza: 

Eliza: “How do you do? Please tell 
me your problem.” 

)/’m a Cubs fan. 

“Do you believe it’s normal to be a 
I Cubs fan?” 



)It seems masochistic. 

"Please don’t be so short with me.” 

)f'm sorry. I'm on deadline. 

“Do you enjoy being sorry?” 

)Do you enjoy being a stupid com¬ 
puter? 

“Do computers worry you?” 

)Yes. Goodbye. 

"Goodbye. That will be $75, 
please.” 

The diskette also includes a “panic 
button” that, when the boss appears 
unexpectedly, will instantly wipe the 
games off the screen .and replace 
them with a dummy spreadsheet. 


The Computer Cottage Industry Hysteria 

Telecommuting Won’t Destroy Unions, or Solve Your Babysitter Problems 


By David H. Rothman 


I F ANY CLERICAL worker is 100 per¬ 
cent gung-ho on working at home, it 
should be Yvonne Rice of Waldorf. 

At least five times a week — often more 
— she gets up at dawn, sits down at a com¬ 
puter terminal linked by telephone to Blue 
Cross-Blue Shield in downtown Washington 
and, without leaving her house, keys in 400 
to 700 insurance forms a day. 

Rice earns about $25,000 a year for work¬ 
ing about 55 hours a week. She saves on gas, 
clothes, lunches and the psychic wear-and- 
tear of commuting. Indeed, Blue Cross-Blue 
Shield even trotted her out for the “Today 
Show” to defend the growing “telecommut¬ 
ing” movement. 

For all of that. Rice is not altogether satis¬ 
fied with her arrangement. And the AFL- 


David Rothman, a Washington writer, is the 
author of "The Silicon Jungle ” 


CIO is growing increasingly worried that 
Rice, and potentially millions of other work¬ 
ers like her, would be forced to turn their 
electronic cottages into electronic sweat¬ 
shops. According to one informed estimate, 
up to 30,000 workers may be telecommut¬ 
ing, and their numbers are expected to grow 
• rapidly. 

The AFL-CIO’s position is that electronic 
home work should be banned. A 1983 reso¬ 
lution adopted by the union’s constitutional 
convention called for “an early ban on com¬ 
puter homework by the Department of 
Labor. . . .” The resolution claimed that 
computers would encourage piecework, 
drive wages down, increase the risk of em¬ 
ploye exploitation, make it harder to ensure 
safe working conditions, reduce the likeli¬ 
hood of health and pension benefits and in¬ 
crease the chances that child labor laws will 
be violated. 

Although Rice is not sympathetic to the 
union position — “I was brought up antiun¬ 
ion,” she says — she is not entirely happy in 
her work. She toils 10 or 11 hours weekdays 


and four on Saturday. But in three years, she 
hasn’t gotten one raise even though “I work- 
my rear end off and do twice as much as 
someone in an office.” Her pay per form: 161 
c ents. And Blue Cross-Blue Shield charges 
her $2,400 annually for the computer termi-^ 
nal that it requires her to rent from them. 1 
Yvonne Rice is a good example of both the 
promises and perils of this new system.; 
Telecommuting is like the H-bomb. If tech¬ 
nology allows something to happen, sooner 
or later it probably will. Unlike nuclear, 
weapons, however, telecommuting will be a 
blessing — if employers, unions and politi¬ 
cians don’t panic, and if workers get their 
share of the benefits. 1 

C ontrary to the AFL-CIO’s fears, tele¬ 
commuting could be a real boon to 
employe and employers alike. Under 
the right circumstances, even savvy unions 
could come out ahead, if they understood 
that the economics are often just too good to 
ignore — especially at bargaining time. 

See TELECOMMUTE, B2, CoL 1 





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Preventive Maintenance 
For an Aging Computer 


By ERIK SANDBERG-DIMENT 

T HOSE millions of personal 
computers purchased over 
the last couple of years are 
beginning to enter middle 
age. A microcomputer generation is 
as brief as its prefix. After one of 
these computers has seen two or 
three years of use, cataracts begin to 
cloud the monitor, disk drives sag and 
a slight palsy of the keyboard sets in. 

Generally electronic technology 
leaps ahead of itself so rapidly that 
the machine never does reach old 
age, at least not in public. Long be¬ 
fore that it is consigned either to the 
closet or to a salesman as a trade-in 
on a new Goldcircuit IV with hyper- 
disks. 

So to date the socioeconomic 
phases of computer ownership have 
been limited to two: brand-newness, 
and the soon-after familiarity that 
comes with having run half a dozen 
programs often enough to avoid most 
beginner’s errors automatically. In 
order to extend this relatively tran¬ 
quil phase, a certain amount of up¬ 
keep is in order. 

Go through the indexes of any 100 
computer books for beginners (any 
that have indexes, that is) at random, 
and chances are that not once will you 
come across the word “mainte¬ 
nance.” The implication is that when 
you enter computerdom you enter a 
perfect world where nothing breaks 
down. It is true that electronic com¬ 
ponents are more reliable than me¬ 
chanical ones, which are subject to 
the wear and tear of friction. But it 
does not follow that electronic ele¬ 
ments are eternal. 

Preventive computer maintenance, 
like that for an automobile, falls 
pretty much into two categories, dis¬ 
tinguished by the amount of skill re¬ 
quired. Basic tasks such as checking 
the air pressure of the car tires or 
cleaning the computer’s keyboard 
even a mechanical klutz like me can 
perform without difficulty. Disas¬ 
sembling the disk drives in order to 
cledn their circuit boards and replac¬ 
ing the head pads, undertakings akin 
to putting in new piston rings, de¬ 
mand a much greater technical profi¬ 
ciency. 

The required expertise is certainly 
not unconquerable, but acquiring it is 
something most of us would probably 
not consider a cost-effective use of 
time unless, perhaps, we viewed it as 
a learning experience. If you are in¬ 
terested in that aspect of the affair, 
"The Plain English Repair and Main¬ 
tenance Guide for Home Comput¬ 
ers,” by Henry F. Beechhold (Simon 
and Schuster, $14.%), is an excellent 
place to start your self-education. 

If you are not inclined toward ad¬ 
vanced computer mechanics, do at 
least pick up a vacuum cleaner occa¬ 
sionally. Dust is one of the most de¬ 
structive elements in the microcom¬ 
puter environment. Using a small, 
soft brush attachment, vacuum your 
computer's keyboard. Dusting it with 
a cloth simply will not remove all the 


minute panicles aetermineo to mi¬ 
grate down between the keys and the 
keyboard case. At worst minuscule 
specks of din can interfere with the 
functioning of the electronic compo¬ 
nents of the keyboard. More likely 
they will content themselves with 
slowly gumming up the me chanica l 
works, stiffening the feel of die key¬ 
board. 

While we’re on the subject of un¬ 
wanted dust particles, don’t put one of 
those ionizers, or electronic air puri¬ 
fiers, in the same room with your 
computer. These units charge the 
dust in their vicinity electrically so 
that it clings to surfaces. The air is 
cleansed at the cost of depositing 
those powdery panicles in greater 
quantity and much more stubbornly 
on your machine. 



Dust will settle most persistently on 
your computer in the vicinity of the 
cooling slots, if your machine has a 
fan. The cooling fans of most comput- , 
ers are of the exhaust variety. As thev 1 
pull the air heated by the electronic j 
components out of the case, the cooler 1 
external air, dust and all, seeps in i 
through the cracks and the vents de- 1 
signed with that air flow in mind. 

E XHAUST fans are more effec¬ 
tive than the intake variety 
for cooling computers. How¬ 
ever, they entail a modifica¬ 
tion in most people’s housecleaning 
approach, for vacuuming up the dust 
around the most obvious place, the 
fan housing, does little to help keep 
the machine pristine. What one needs 
to do instead is to concentrate on the 
assembly seams where the computer 
case slides on and off, the ventlike ■ 
openings obviously designed to facili-' 
tate internal air flow and, in most ' 
cases, the back panel, where the en¬ 
trails of the machine are exposed 
through screw holes, cable outlets 
. and expansion board slots. It is also I 
important to vacuum around the out- ' 
side of the disk drives, potentially one ! 
of the dustiest areas of any computer. ' 
Like consoles and keyboards, print¬ 
ers, too, gather dust. They attract 
piles of paper fragments as well. A 
good habit to adopt is cleaning out the 
printer every time you change rib¬ 
bons. This puts the job on a regulated, 
when-needed basis. 

The manual accompanying your 
printer should outline the steps to be 
followed in removing the enclosure 
shell. Once that is off, you should be 
able to use a can of compressed air, 
available at photographic supply 
stores, to blast the din and the paper 
out from hard-to-reach comers. Don’t 
use the vacuum cleaner in its blower 
mode. The unfiltered air would only 
add dust. 

Printing elements such as daisy 
wheels or type balls should be individ¬ 
ually cleaned, again following the in¬ 
structions for the type and model of 
machine you have. After the printer 
has been thoroughly cleaned, any me¬ 
chanical parts such as the print head 


rod should be lubr.cated according to 
the recommendations of the manual. 

Before you put the vacuum cleaner 
away, go over the monitor with the 
dusting attachment as well. Also 
cleaning the screen with a glass 
cleaner often does wonders for the 
image, restoring a brightness and 
clarity you may have forgotten it was 
capable of producing. 

On an older monitor you may no¬ 
tice, especially after your thorough 
cleaning, a darkening of the screen in 
areas where text is normally dis¬ 
played. In an extreme case shadowy 
letters may appear, even when the 
monitor is turned off. These “visual 
echoes” result when a given display 
is projected for too long; the picture- 
producing electron beam can bum 
the image into the phosphorus of the 
screen. 

Leaving the computer on if you are 
going to step away from it for a 10- 
minute coffee break or even an hour- 
long lunch produces less wear and 
tear than does flicking the switch off 
and on repeatedly in the course of a 
day. The opposite holds true for the 
monitor, however. Leaving it on with 
the same image an view for even 10 
minutes can decrease the life expect¬ 
ancy of the tube. Continuous long 
periods of fixed display will certainly 
diminish future picture clarity. 

As a preventive measure against 
such bum-in, cultivate the habit of 
turning the brightness control on the 
monitor all the way down when you j 
take even a short break from your 
computer work. If you are running a 
program like pfs: write in which the 
brightness of the type can be obliter¬ 
ated by the brightness control but 
margin-defining borders and such re- j 
main highlighted on the screen, turn i 
off the monitor. | 

Along the same lines, that rarely i 
seen and much underused accessory, . I 
the dust cover, is a really worthwhile 
investment. Cover your computer 
whenever it is not in use (though not, 
of course, when you’ve left it on be- 
tween-times). You are apt to save 
considerable aggravation and repair 
costs in the future — not to mention 
vacu uming time. 




' EDUCATION _ itf. Jft/tsr. 

. Interview: Seymour Papert on Computers 


By EDWARD B. FISKE 


S EYMOUR PAPERT, a profes¬ 
sor of mathematics and 
education at the Massachu¬ 
setts Institute of Technology, 
- - is a major pioneer in the use of com¬ 
puters in elementary and secondary 
. schools. Mr. Papert, a student of the 
- late Swiss educator and psychologist 
- - Jean Piaget, is the creator of LOGO, 
the computer language most widely 
I used with young children. His writ¬ 
ings, including his book “Mind- 
storms,” published by Basic Books, 


have bad considerable Influence 
among educators in this country. Mr. 
Papert recently discussed his views 
on computers and education in an in¬ 
terview. Following are e xc e r pt s from 
that discussion: 

Q. What is your Impression 
about die way computers are 
being used in most elementary 
schools today? 

They’re not being used very much. 
Across the country, there’s about one 
computer for 70 children, and you 
can’t do very much with that. Imag- 
— ine that writing had just been invent- 
_ed, and somebody said, “Let’s take it 


easy. We’ll start by putting one pencil 
in each classroom.” The idea at one 
computer In each classroom is abort 
as absurd as one pencil in each class¬ 
room. 

Q. How do you describe LOGO? 

LOGO is a program, which is to say 
it’s a way of making the computer do 
what you want it to do. LOGO gives a 
child the possibility of exploring the 
power of the computer and mastery 
over it. You frequently see children 
work for many weeks an a complex 
programming project. This involves 
planning, making different parts of 
Continued on Page C 


Continued From Page Cl 


the project, putting them together. 
That is quite unusual, since our 
schools do not normally give elemen¬ 
tary schoolchildren the opportunity to 
-work for a long time on a complex 
project. Programming does. 

Q. Can you give a very specific 

example? 

Make your simulation of the space 
shuttle. You have to design the shape, - 
make it move, make the rockets fire. 

It gets up to the sky, takes off in an 
orbit and eventually lands. In the 
course of doing that you have to 
worry about bow to describe the 
movement of the shuttle and the stars 
in the background. All of this has a lot 
of content and a lot of challenge. If 
you ask the child “What are you 
doing?" the answer you will get is, J 
“I’m drawing something beautiful” i 
or "I’m making a space shuttle.” You 
won’t get the answer “I’m doing 
mathematics,” but that’s what’s hap¬ 
pening. And this is where it’s funda¬ 
mentally different from a traditional 
. curriculum. There isn’t the Balkani¬ 
zation of knowledge which makes 
mathematics one little compartment, 
art another, music another, science 
another and so forth. j 

Q. How about these other aca- 
■ denote areas? 

The mechanics of writing is a terri- 1 
hie chore, so young children don’t do 
much. The word processor makes it 
easy to play with language, to cor¬ 
rect, to experiment with a different 
form, to see your ^product neatly 
typed out in the form you can be 
proud of instead of it being a mess. Or 
take social studies. The computer 
makes it possible for very young chil- j 
dren to manipulate data about society j 
and get a grasp on the way social—j 
movements were formed. You can 
also use the computer to simulate the 
economy or the geography of the 
planet. It allows children to take con¬ 
trol and to manipulate kinds of knowl¬ 
edge that have been totally bookish in 
the past. And then, of course, there 
are the sciences. 


Q. Explain. 

What’s most important in physics is 
the laws of motion — how they affect 
the stars, atoms, gravity — but it’s al¬ 
most impossible to study this even in 
high school because the mathematics 
is just too complicated. Or was until 
the computer. With the computer it’s 
now possible for elementary school- 
children to manipulate motion in 
quite a formal way. Moving objects 
on the screen can be related, say, to 
throwing balls, so that what is funda¬ 
mental in science can be brought into 
relationship with what is most natu¬ 
ral to children — moving about. 

Q. What about the cost of all 
this? Pencils were a lot cheaper. 

Computers cost more than pencils, 
but they cost a lot less than the 
wasted time of teachers or the conse¬ 
quences of children who are turned 
off by schools, drop out and end up 
with drugs. In New York it costs 
about $40,000 of taxpayer money to 
educate each child for the whole area. 

You can go to the stores and buy a 
pretty powerful computer for less 
than a thousand dollars. 

Q. What will it take to get from 
the single-pencil approach to a 
_ computer-Intensive_environ¬ 

ment? 

I’m trying to create a couple of 
high-density schools where children 
can learn in an environment of free 
access to technology. That’s one side 
of it. The other side of it is to rethink 
the subject matters we are dealing 
with. We need to bring real physi¬ 
cists, real artists, real writers into 
the process of redesigning the activi¬ 
ties of children. 

Q. Didn’t we go through that 
right after Sputnik? The oew 
math and the various science 
curriculums of the time did not 
turn out to be a very happy ex¬ 
perience. 


True, but then we had one half of it 
because they went in absolutely the 
opposite direction. The emphasis 
there was on making mathematics a 
very pure — a very logical — subject. 

So mathematics, which was already 
an alienated subject, became even 
more alienated. The computer en¬ 
ables us to go in the opposite direc¬ 
tion, making it much more concrete 
and personal. We’re getting a second 
chance. 

Q. Boys tend to be more inter¬ 
ested In computers than girls. Is 
that something that troubles you? 

It does trouble me, anditka reflec¬ 
tion of the general phenomenon. It’s 
not the computer as such that’s more 
attractive to the boys than to girls. 
It’s the fact that the computer comes 
out of a male technological, techno¬ 
cratic, white-dominated culture. The j 
computer as we know it was made by 
engineers who like to t hink in a very 
systematic, organized, top-down, 
highly planned way. 

Not everybody likes to think like 
that, but science and mathematics in¬ 
struction in our schools is powerfully 
biased against people with a more 
artist-like style of thinking. They 
react against a culture that has no 
room for intuition, no empathy, no 
communication about what you’re 
doing. They react against a culture 
where the emphasis is on linear think¬ 
ing, on individual work and on mak¬ 
ing a product that wracks rather than a 
product that you can talk about with 
other people.. 

The computer, though, allows you 
to approach technical subjects, and ' 
mathematical ones too, more like the 
artist who creates by a negotiation of 
the object you’re trying to create. 
There’s no incompatibility between 
that intuitive kind of thinking and 
being able to do mathematics in a 
very creative way. We’re making 
pockets of computer culture where j 
learning is very personalized, where j 
you can build up from the bottom and j 
still structure it from the top. You can ' 
make something and change it. You j 
can let it grow the way a painting on j 
the canvas grows in a kind of negotia- j 
tion between you and the product. | 



• »%«*•* * I 

| Start 
Earlier 


eivMkMMliitH 


(■uittilW 


EXPOSED! UNRELEASED ATARI SOFTWARE 

Tl»c “ JJ" Atari had d»uy> acquired and developed software that never saw the light of day, and it appears 
that the new Atari Gap. now has to decide whether to release some of it, or not. 

These three educational pieces were spotted in their “ready 
to go” packages, but their destination—the market or the scrapper 
—may be announced in January, at the Winter CES (Las Vfegas). 

The Market Place, for 8- to 13-year-olds, is a social studies 
simulation wliete you “run your own business,” competing and 
learning the laws of economics. In Pre-Reading, youngsters 4 
to 7 are taught pre-reading skills through alphabet games— 
matching letters and pictures. Counting, also tor 4- to .-year- 
olds, teaches basic addition. 



Says Australian Expert 



By DA\T KING 
Children should 
become familiar with 
computers as early as 
possible, according to 
an Australian expert 
on educational com¬ 
puting, Mrs Liddy 
Nevile. 

A child could not use a 
romputer properly if he. or 
;he. was introduced to it at 
i stage later than when 
iteracy and numeracy 
ikiils were being acquired, 
said Mrs Nevile when she i 
visited Auckland last week. 1 
Failure to teach children 
how to use computers at an 
early age was “a bit like 
saying we can teach chil¬ 
dren to write when they’ve 
finished school or are in a 
secondary school,” she said. 

Great Deal 

That was. why she thought 
it was important that com¬ 
puters came into the class¬ 
rooms as teaching tools and 
were accepted naturally as 
such by the children. 

There was even a project 
in Australia which was con¬ 
sidering the computing 
needs of children between 
the ages of 4 and 7. 

Those were the children, 
she said, who "really are 
not’ well catered for and yet 
could do a*great deal with a: 
computer."I 
Mrs Nevile is. vice-presi-j 
dent of the Computer Edu-. 
cation Group-of Victoria 
and teaches in a primary 
school in Melbourne. She 
also works on the develop¬ 
ment of computer educa¬ 
tion systems in Australia 
with the support of the 
National Computer Educa¬ 
tion Evaluation team at 
Deakin University. 

Problems 

She was invited to visit 
New Zealand by Barson 
Computers NZ Ltd to give a 
series of lectures on the use 
of computers in, primary 
schools. 

. Discussing that topic in 
an interview with the Sew 
Zealand Herald. Mrs 
- Nevile said she had used 


((■C 

om 

pui 

er 

CD 

€ 

M 


with writing and read- 
„ indirectly. 

[ “One of the problems 
[children have is that ifthey 
have something to say. they 
cannot dream up how to 
! write, and they cannot 
dream up what the letters 
: look like even, but they can 

pick them off a keyboard 
quite easily." she said. 

When the children had 
written something on the 
computer screen it sud¬ 
denly looked real to them. 
It looked like the things 
they read in books. Teach¬ 
ing children to write at a 
level which in some way 
compared with what they 
tread was a big step. 

The children could not do 
as well with a pen because 
their co-ordination was 
poor. 

Confidence 

Mrs Nevile said the con¬ 
fidence the children subse- 


[quently gained grew from 
the ability to see writing as 
something which was pro¬ 
duced by a process starting 
with an idea. 

They learned to develop 
a piece of text rather than 
write it the first time round, 
said Mrs Nevile. who 
thought that authors tended : 
to create their works in 
much the same way. 

Mrs Nevile was quick to 
say that fundamental 
handwriting skills would 
not be threatened by the 
children's use of computers. 

Experience had shown 
that if the children used 
computers as tools they 
learned the strengths and 
limitations of the machines. 

Writing 

“The fact that they have 
to use a pencil does not 
seem to worry’ them." she 
said. "They still have the 
confidence to approach the 
task. Somehow this confid¬ 
ence and knowledge of 


their own ability makes 
them do a better job." 

It was quite uncanny to 
watch children write more 
neatly after doing word pro¬ 
cessing on a computer. And 
they are better at express¬ 
ing themselves. 

A child's ability to come 
to grips with concepts after 
becoming familiar with 
computers was demon- 


strated very well in mathe¬ 
matics. 

The Australian experi¬ 
ence was that children who 
had learned to use a com¬ 
puter properly at primary 
scTlool attacked secondary- 
school mathematics with 
more enthusiasm than their 
predecessors. 

"They understand the 
concepts and how they 
relate to each other and 
how you build up concepts." 
said Mrs Nevile. 

Power 

She said studies in Aus-.j 
tralia confirmed what MIT l 


researener. Seymour 
Papert. postulated in his 
book Windstorms about a 
child's need for the feeling 
of power while learning. 

“1 think the attitude of 
children to learning is about 
the most critical thing." 
said Mrs Nevile. 

Children who used com¬ 
puters tended to think that 
I every problem was just a 
code to crack and they 
knew they could crack it if 
they went the right way 
about the task. 

The attitude stimulated 
their will to learn. 

What a lot of teaching 
told children was they were 
B- people and could not 
solve problems so they did 
not trv. They just gave up. 

If a’ child was once given [ 
a real experience of crack- i 
ing a code with their own j 
inventiveness then they. 
suddenly got the feeling 
that if they were again in¬ 
ventive they could crack j 
another code. j 

Teachers 1 

Mrs Nevile said she j 
thought the teachers' role 
was changing in the sense 
that no longer could 
teachers be regarded as the 
fount of all knowledge who 
“hand out little messages" 
to children. 

”1 think the world has got 
to the stage where children 
and teachers work at the 
skills children need." she 
said. 

They might work to¬ 
gether on information 
handling skills and discover 
where to go to find out 
about things. 

The computer often en¬ 
couraged that partnership. 

Training 

Teachers needed tu be 
told that the values they 
have always had still oper¬ 
ated but they needed to be 
shown they were expressed 
differently when they used 
computers. 

On the subject of fourth 
generation learning soft¬ 
ware, such as program au¬ 
thoring systems. Mrs Nevile 
said she did not believe 
their use costituted educa- 


I 






O NE DAY last year 
Diana Ryall took 
six Apple comput¬ 
ers out to a subur- 
>an school as part of a 
Sydney University research 
project designed to expose 
^oung children to the pro¬ 
gramming language Logo. 

Logo is in fact rather more 
;han a programming lan¬ 
guage: it is an environment in 
which children can teach a 
computer device called a tur¬ 
tle to trace out patterns and at 
the same time gain a grasp of 
geometric and mathematical 
principles. Little help is given: 
the children discover for 
themselves through trial, error 
and logic how to make the 
computer do what they wanL 
It is not a quiet process. The 
school principal had 
approved the experiment, but 
after it had been running for a 
short time he rushed into the 
classroom to stop it. 

"He was terribly concerned 
about the noise^ level. He 
thought we had lost all control 
over the students," says Ryall, 
education adviser for Apple 
Computer Australia. 

"By traditional standards of 
a teacher demanding total 
attention I suppose we had. 
There were five pupils around 
each of the six computers and 
almost all of them were 
talking excitedly, trying to 
make their point felt on what 
the group should be doing." 

What the principal had seen 
as noisy chaos was in fact a 
voyage of exploration, discov¬ 
ery and communication. 

The electronic classroom, it 
seems, has finally arrived in 
Australia. So far the students 
are having no trouoie coping; 
only some of the teachers. 

It is not at all the kind of 
place many had imagined. 
Instead, the computer revolu¬ 
tion now beginning to shake 
Australian schools is a cheer¬ 
ful, humanist affair of group 
dynamics and one in which — 
in the better cases at least — 
the pupils are in clear, if 
sometimes noisy, control of 
the computers rather than the 



other way round. Imaginative, j 
even exciting software, is ( 
'trickling onto the market. 

1 This is all part of a world¬ 
wide computer revolution, in 
which the ideas and philoso- . 
phy of US mathematician and j 
computerist Seymour Papert | 
"are'playing a leading role. 

Papert, who helped design 
Logo at the Artificial Intelli¬ 
gence Laboratory at Massa¬ 
chusetts Institute of Technol¬ 
ogy, believes that old ideas of 
;i computer-aided instruction 
i should be turned on their j 
head. Children instead , 
instruct the computer and 
come into contact with some 
of the deepest ideas from 
science, maths and communi¬ 
cation. 

His book Mindstorms: 
Children, Computers and 
Powerful Ideas (Harvester 
Press, 1980), which links com¬ 
puters to the cognitive learn¬ 
ing theories of the Swiss 
educationist Jean Piaget, has 
I become one of the seminal 
! influences on modern educa- 
i tional thinking: its evangelical 
zeal has helped spark new 
thoughts on how computers 
can be used in schools. 


In Australian schools, com¬ 
puters are now being used not 
only to do dull old drill and 
practice routines — but also to 
research local history, to simu¬ 
late strange micro-worlds, to 
experiment in science labora¬ 
tories that exist only in com¬ 
puter memory, to compose 
music, to explore the effects of 
conservation, to correct dys- 
lectic problems in some slow 
learners, to write concrete 
poetry or adventure stories 
with multiple endings. 

At Alicurung, a mainly 
Aboriginal school 380 kilo¬ 
metres north of Alice Springs, 
principal Chris Nott has 
reported one measure of suc¬ 
cess: students who had previ¬ 
ously resisted some aspects of 
white learning have been 
breaking into school after 
hours to continue work on 
educational computer pro¬ 
grams. 

According to Nott, the 
school’s bank of Apple com¬ 
puters has knocked down 
several barriers of traditional 
outbade education: Aborigi¬ 
nal society is group achieve¬ 
ment-oriented, and peer 
group pressure inhibits black 
children from competing in 


the individualistic style of the 
white education system. Com¬ 
puter-aided instruction pro- 

I vides private pressure-free 
tuition. At the same time the 
Aboriginal students are highly 
jvisual learners and warm to 
computer displays, 
i There are now believed to 
be between 30,000 and 40,000 
computers in Australian 
schools, and total spending on 
computerisation has been put 
at $30 million a year. 

But less than half that is 


currently landing in the bank 
accounts of the major hard¬ 
ware makers. Under the Fed¬ 
eral Government's three-year 
$ 18-million school computing 
plan, most funds are ear¬ 
marked for teacher training 
and course-ware develop- 
ment. 

The Commonwealth j 
Schools Commission, which 
drew up the national plan, 
estimated a minimum $125 
million would be needed to 
implement it over five years. 
Many educators see the $18 
million which they actually 
got as a niggardly amount. 

New contracts for school 
supply of computers will be 

_ _ _ a :_ Ctot 


The electronic classroom 


Developments in computer technology promise to change the face of education 
in Australia. In this special feature, DAVID FRITH describes the latest products 
available to teachers and students and (opposite) LAUREL ALLEN profiles two 





NSW, Victoria and WA — J 
later this year. Victoria alone I 
has received applications 
from more than SO suppliers. 
The market remains small by 
comparison with either the 
business or home computer 
fields, but the business is 
regarded as valuable, particu¬ 
larly for the foot it gives in the 
door should Canberra agree to 
a more wholehearted effort. 

Approved computer suppli¬ 
ers to schools vary from State 
to State, though four manu¬ 
facturers — Apple, BBC, 
Commodore and Microbce 
are predominant. 

A new and highly contro¬ 
versial entrant to the race has 
been Sperry Computer, which 
has strong links to the Queens¬ 
land Government. It recently 
announced it would build a 
factory to make computers in 
Brisbane, after winning a 
contract to supply more than 
1,400 microcomputers to 
Queensland high schools for a | 
computer literacy program. 

The Sperry, like the better- 
known IBM PC, is a 16-bit 
machine running the MS- 
DOS operating system: while 
it's seen as an excellent busi- , 
ness computer, the value of j 
16-bit technology to schools is 
questionable in many eyes, j 
There is very little 16-bit 
educational software, and the 
machines typically cost two to ; 
three times the price of an I 
eight-bit system such as Apple 
or Microbee. J 

How many computers do 
Australian schools need? A 
keyboard on every desk is the 
technocrats' ideal, but with 
three-million students that 
could cost a cool S3 billion: a 
politically unattainable dream 
in the era of Budget razor 
gangs. Two or three per 
classroom might be more 
realistic, and even that would 
take many years to implement 
While the education hard¬ 
ware market is embroiled in 
controversy, the software 
industry is steaming gently 
ahead. More than 60 software 
suppliers compete for a mar¬ 
ket estimated at S8-S10 million 
a year, and likely to grow 
rapidly. Some are one-person 
shows, often with only a 
handful of self-designed prod¬ 
ucts: others are major com¬ 
mercial concerns, importing 
American and British ware — 
much of it old-fashioned pre- 
Papert drill material. 

A third and increasingly 
important group is all-Austra¬ 
lian, backed by grants or 
venture capital and in some 
cases Education Department 
blessing, and producing high 


quality programs with 100 pef 
cent Australian content. 

Among the biggest of these 
are Melbourne-based Prolq* ' 
gic; and Brisbane's Jacaranda 
Wiley. Up-and-comers 
include two Wollongong, • 
NSW, groups, Spinifex Soft¬ 
ware and Know Ware — part 
of a drive to find a new 
high-tech future for this coal 
and steel city. 

Spinifex, which evolved 
from a group of concerned 
university experts and local 
schoolteachers, has developed 
very distinctive maths discov-r 
ery and tutorial programs 
which allow pupils to experi¬ 
ment individually with ele¬ 
mental concepts. They have 
excited overseas attention, 
and export possibilities are 
being investigated. 

The fourth part of the 
software industry comprises 
the special computer educa¬ 
tion units now formed by most 
State governments. 

The Tasmanian and South 
Australian units have been 
operating for some years, 
producing low-cost, well-re¬ 
searched software. More 
recently they have been joined 
by WA and NSW — the latter 
putting a 40-person task force 
to work at producing training 
courses and software. Another 
significant NSW group has 
been CARE, a remedial edu¬ 
cation group at Denistone 
East under the enthusiastic 
Barry Manefield. 

Victoria has taken a slightly 
different course, preferring to 
back the private enterprise 
Prologic venture, in which the 
Government’s Economic 
Development Corporate 
has a minority interest 
Two computer profession¬ 
als, Dov Brener and Tim 
James, raised SI million in 
venture capital to get the 
project afloat: they use 
teachers seconded from the 
Education Department as part 
of the design team. 

Despite a general shortage 
of funds, there are, according 
to Diana Ryall, three or four 
areas in which the Australian 
software industry has kept up 
with, or is even ahead of world 
trends. One has been Logo: 
Australian written books and 
applications abound, and one 
Logo device — Turtle Tot, a 
programmable robot which 
can be programmed by very 
young children, made by Flex¬ 
ible Systems of Hobart, has 
become a world seller. 

The other areas are creative 
writing, simulations and data¬ 
bases. 

• Creative writing, or pro¬ 
cess writing, is an educational 


development of word process¬ 
ing. Using word processing} 
programs specially designed 
for school use, children are 
able to manipulate the ideas in 


developing as an export area. 
Active Learning Systems of 
Byron Bay, NSW, has been 
offered the chance of start-up 


rher writing, and to get. ‘»>e State of 

perfect error-free print-outs, j Mich.gan to launch three such 
^ ^ 1 products on the American 


• Simulations are imagined 
worlds where students can 

take control, and see the effect v 

of their decisions. Gold Dust 
Island (Jacaranda Wiley) puts 
students on an island wnere 

they must share ideas 
resources to survive; Isle Of 
What, produced by the Soil 
Conservation Authority, gives 
geography students practice in 
] land management decisions; 

I Dirigible (Wesoft — the WA 
. Education Department labeii 
puts students in a 
1 lighter-than-air craft, travel- 
| ling above a contoured map 
and having to calculate the 
effects of temperature, wind 
conditions and other factors 

to stay aloft. 


market. They are USA Profile, 

l 

an interactive database of 
statistics from the SO US 
States; One World, a similar 
file on 178 independent 
nations; and Hometown, an 
open file system that allows 
students to create a database 
on their own region. i 


The Turtle’s Sourcebook. Dor.™ Bear¬ 
den. Kathleen Murtin. James H. Mailer Young 
People's Logo .Association. ”3 pp.. 

S2I.0S. Restoii Publishing Co.. Il-Rkl Sunset 
Hills Rd.. Rcston. VA 22WO. 

The Turtle's Sourcebook is a marvelous re¬ 
source book for teachers. It is helpfn! for both 
the le-.11 ning anti teaching of Logo !nci.,£e>f are 
commands and instructions for four versions of 
Loco (Apple, T1 W4. Tl y'),4A. and Mi T>. It is 
full of ideas for both off- and cm-con*ru:cf use 
to help children (and teachersI) understand 
L.ogo. The majority of the hook is de-vaed to 
turtle graphics. Many e samples and Je.-.s Se 
given to introduce v.iriacles. curves are .Ircles.. 
recursion, conditio.-.ds, and tcsseHatSs-’v 
Little mention is made of th.e stn-c'ars of 
programming and the development of -trerpi-v 
cedures with subprocedures to simplity a com¬ 
plex problem. Extremely valuable are the ap- 


any teacher beginning to use Logo in the class- 
-A dele Neither’. 


• Databases are one area 
where Australian educational 
designers are leading the 
world. The genre took off 
when the Tasmanian Educa¬ 
tion Department's Elizabeth 
Media Centre produced The 
First Fleet, a file of informa¬ 
tion on the convicts who 
arrived in Sydney in 1788. 

Students use the computer tn pendixes at the end of the book, which 
analyse and research the da ta, summarize much of the informal ion and include 
and draw conclusions: ftey !»ddition.d references (e g.. Logo for preschool- 
become true historians. ! a cross-reference guide fu, jive versions 

The program has been Color. Cyrer, ML . a,m m 

incredibly popular with Aus- j 0 ™ !l ’ ,n s , pU f t Dt ?,. h,gh ^ L h ’ s b °°' 
tralian schools and has now j woulJ be a valuab,i at!Ui:ion tu £he fcrar > ° f 
been followed by many more: | 

Birds of Antarctica, again 1X0,11 
from the Elizabeth Centre; 

Hounds And History, actual 
dog registration records from 
100 years ago; Crime and 
Society (Prologic), a 23-year 
record of otfeaces. xrx 
categories in Victoria, letting a 
student chart the changing 
nature of crime; The Dream 
Machine — a record of car 
registrations. 

“These things show how our 
society has changed, and are 
very useful in general studies. 

But you need a teacher with a 
bit of oomph to use them,” 

Ryall says. 

One of her favourites is 
Bushranger Database from 
the new Wollongong com¬ 
pany Know Ware. Not only 
does it provide raw data about 
Australia's wild colonial boys, 
but ballads, worksheets and a 
glossary of terms. 

The database field is even