Technology Milestones From the pages of T.H.E. Journal

Timeline: 50 Years of Computing


1972

Edward Warnshuis establishes Information Synergy, Inc., located in Delaware. Its principal product would be a publication examining applications of technology in education, called T.H.E. Journal. Educators who used technology would find T.H.E. Journal to be a forum where they could share their experiences.


1973

T.H.E. Journal conducts market research and finds that educators would prefer learning about new technologies and their applications from their peers rather than from "outsiders." Publisher Warnshuisí vision for the magazine becomes and remains, "Of, by and for educators."


1974

 

T.H.E. Journalís Charter Issue spells out the magazine's editorial philosophy: "Eminent educators will discuss a wide range of educational problems, desired solutions and new techniques employing technology. Leading designers within industry will describe installed systems, new techniques and quantitative results in schools, colleges, industry and government." (May)
 

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An article on TICCIT (Time-share, Interactive, Computer-Controlled Information Television) describes a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). MITRE Corp. hoped "to catalyze the mass dissemination of CAI through a five-year program aimed at achieving a major market success for Computer-Assisted Instruction. A goal as lofty as this may be dismissed as puffery by individuals familiar with CAI history, but to MITRE, the goal seems realizable. We are attempting to sell the CAI concept to the schools as a reasonable, cost-effective approach to individualized instruction, while at the same time convincing the computer/textbook/publishing industries that CAI can be marketed now." (May)

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An article on microfilm notes that "Any school office can establish a microfilm filing system, with a camera to record the documents and a reader/ printer to retrieve them, for an investment in the $8,000 to $12,000 range." (December)

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New Products: Dukaneís Model 28A1 Cassette A-V Matic integrates an "automatic sound filmstrip viewer with large screen," paving the way for todayís VCR/TV combos. (December)


1975

 

Reginald Wilson, president of Wayne County Community College, writes how technology assists with student registration: "WCCC now handles this massive, complex registration job efficiently and economically with a computer-based, online registration system. The system, which is built around a Xerox Sigma 6 computer, processes an individual studentís registration in an elapsed time of just two minutes." (March)

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New Products: TV Scanning Electron Microscope is "priced under $10,000. The TV MINI-SEM may be installed on any desk, table or lab bench with only standard 110-volt AC power required. No water or vibration table is needed." (March)

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Molly Spiro, an assistant professor at the Univ. of Pittsburgh, describes cable TV and its implications for education: "In 1977 the FCC is due to review the rulings granting a free dedicated access channel on local cable systems for educational purposes." (November) * Today, every cable system has at least one channel dedicated to community programming.

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New Products: "A new IBM 5100 portable computer merges desktop compactness with stand-alone computer functions. The computer requires standard 115-volt ac power, and can be used in most office, laboratory and classroom environments." (November)

1976

 

Product Profile: Digital Equipment Corp.ís DECSYSTEM - 20 is a "36-bit word length system featuring a full complement of high-level languages, a field-proven operating system, and a newly designed systems architecture, where the central processing unit, core memory, controllers and a front-end PDP-11 processor are integrated into a single functional unit." (February)

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Andrew R. Molnar, of the NSF, writes about the use of computers in education: "The high cost of CAI has led some to explore computer-managed instruction (CMI) systems. In CMI, the student may take a diagnostic test and on the basis of the results be referred to library reference materials, or specific books or to audio-visual aids. The computer monitors individual performance and maintains group records." (February)

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D. Thomas King of St. Paul Public Schools (Minn.), highlights the need for data security in Metro-II, a regional metropolitan computer consortium: "While most districts now have their own approaches to security problems, security becomes somewhat more critical in a consortium." (December) * This problem has become an even bigger issue today with Internet security.

1977

 

Dr. James Stice, director of Center for Teaching Effectiveness at the Univ. of Texas, Austin, looks at the future of education: "Computer systems will help teachers in teaching students and diagnostic testing, but instruction will still remain under teacher control. Students will learn to take greater responsibility and make independent decisions. Critical, analytic thinking will be stressed, and students will have more freedom and use it to increase their problem-solving abilities." (March)

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New Products: Bell & Howellís Language Master Systems "introduce and reinforce basic auditory and visual pre-reading skills for students in pre-school and early primary grades." (March) 

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Two college professors write about selecting CAI programs: "CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction) promises to be one of the most useful instructional formats in education.Ö Instructors can be freed from time-consuming drills and have more time available for developing a more systematic approach to their course materials." (November/December)

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Calendar: "A major subject at the Society for Applied Learning Technologyís 2nd International Congress and Exposition will be the role of communications satellites in training and education." (January/February)

1978

 

In her debut Editorial, Dr. Sylvia Charp, Editor-in-Chief, informs T.H.E. readers: "We will continue in our efforts to keep our readers informed of the latest developments in educational technology and to provide specific suggestions on applications that will be helpful to all educators, regardless of student age group, level or particular subject matter interest." (November/December)

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R. Lewis of Chelsea College, University of London, describes an informational retrieval system that integrates television and telephone: "The potential is available for full interaction with a computer system, a micro-processor in the home, undertaking most tasks but with a large computer backing it up.Ö This will provide a sound basis for educational television linked to computer support in every home and certainly brings into question the role of our traditional educational institutions." (November/December)

1979

 

Advertisement for Apple Computerís Apple II: "Apple gives you computer-assisted instruction capabilities, including drill and practice, tutorial, problem-solving, games, simulations and more. Apple engages student interest with sound and color video. In fact, your students will be able to write programs and create high-resolution graphics." (February)

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Larry M. Dillingham, of Whittier Middle School (Okla.), writes about "inexpensive" tabletop computers: "The larger micro-computers cost between $1,200 and $5,000, and these seem the best suited for school use. An estimate for the cost of a full system for the average-sized school, say 600 students, is in the $7,000 range." (February)

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The Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium completes a study of the microcomputer "scene," then prepares a 45-page list of specifications and asks several manufacturers to bid. "We chose Apple II because it was the bidder that met more of our specifications," noted Dr. Kenneth Brumbaugh, manager of User Services for MECC. (September) * By choosing Apple this early in the game, MECCís decision influenced todayís widespread use of Apple computers in education.

1980

The Apple Education Foundation awards 15 grants: "Totalling almost $100,000, the grants provide 22 microcomputer systems and support equipment for development projects in classrooms ranging from preschool through college, and including special education, health and adult education studies." (February)
 

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A Univ. of Calif. professor and Calif. Dept. of Education official report on that stateís Vocational Education Computer Network: "To retype full texts of existing documents into a computer file would prove an immense undertaking, dependent upon future development of extremely low-cost and efficient storage devices and automated entry of machine-readable text. Abstracts of these documents, however, would be an ideal compromise given current technology." (February)

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In her editorial, Dr. Charp comments that "Superbly designed products are being developed, but the big problem is to know how to adapt the rapidly advancing capabilities to our needs. More training is needed." (September) * She also points out the need for standardization, which is still a big concern almost 20 years later.

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New Products: "MICROPAD is a peripheral device: a local or remote terminal which captures handwritten data ... recognizes ordinary handprinting and translates alpha, numeric and special characters directly into machine readable form." (September) * Shades of Appleís
Newton, perhaps?

1981

 

Software and Courseware: Radio Shackís Introduction to BASIC Programming, Part One, "is part of a complete classroom package designed to provide students with a first experience in computer programming. Ö It requires use of a 4K or 16K Level I or Level II TRS-80 Model I Microcomputer System." (February) * For many years, BASIC was the principal programming language taught to students.

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John C. Lautsch, general counsel for the Coast Community College District (Calif.), suggests combining computers with other electronic devices: "Beyond television, there are gadgets, such as Texas Instrumentsí Speak and Spell, which are breaking sales expectations. The Texas Instruments device is a standalone microchip programmed to interact with children to teach written language. Although often looked upon as a sophisticated toy, it is very effective at teaching language, and in fact is a type of robot partial-replacement for the first grade English class." (February)

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Dr. Terrence Lukas writes that "Getting information to groups of people rapidly, simultaneously, inexpensively and in an eye-catching manner can sometimes be a problem. Using microcomputers as a bulletin board may provide the answer." His system at Indiana University Northwest used an Apple II Plus with BASIC, programmed to send messages to TV sets. (September)

1982

 

Advertisement for ATARIís PILOT programming language: "To use ATARI PILOT, you need only one piece of computer hardware, an ATARI 400 or ATARI 800 Home Computer. For display, any television will do. To save your program, all you need is an ATARI 410 Program Recorder (under $100). Unlike other computers, expensive disk drives are optional with ATARI PILOT." (May)

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Robert G. Scanlon, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, writes that, in the department, computers are used to prepare contracts, budget and personnel records. "In fact, if any member of the staff wants to spend money, he or she has to work it out on a computer.Ö Weíve already eliminated the collection of redundant information and have reduced our reporting requirements by 19 percent." (May)

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IBMís Writing to Read program was to undergo evaluation during the 1982-1983 school year. "For the national evaluation, participating school districts will be loaned some 300 IBM Personal Computers, instructional programming and a system of printed and audiotaped support materials." (November)

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In a Trends article by Dr. Charp: "Weíre almost back to where we started. Multi-user microcomputer systems are fundamentally similar to time-sharing systems.... The networking of microcomputers and the availability of large data bases for the microcomputer user further enhances the use of computers for instruction." (November)

1983

 

In what is believed to be the first performance guarantee in the educational training market, Krell Software announces that "users of their College Board SAT Preparation series are promised a full refund by Krell if their SAT scores are not increased by at least 70 points after using the program series." (April)

Mc-Graw Hill Book Co. forms a new editorial group as part of its College Division to develop texts and software for computer courses and software for other educational areas. "Initial offerings are in finance, economics and graphics." (April) * In the past decade, a host of book publishers have started producing software that complements existing textbooks.

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In a Feature on "The Importance of Retraining Americaís Work Force," Raymond J. Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Labor, states that "New technology will dramatically alter the kinds of work available." He cites a study predicting that robots could replace up to half the manufacturing labor force in the next 20 years. To prepare for this challenge, Donovan recommends vigorous on-the-job training. (October)

1984

 

The International University Consortium for Telecommunications in Learning (IUC), in conjunction with Pioneer Video, completes a study on videodisc feasibility: "The study showed duplication and broadcasting costs are reduced with the use of videodisc as a distribution system." (January) * Videodiscs remain widely used in education, although some observers expect Digital Video Discs will someday replace them.

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Fisher Scientific Co. installs 52 Commodore computer laboratories in public K-12 schools. "Fisher recommended the Commodore 64 microcomputer to the District of Columbia because of its price/performance ratio; multiple features such as a standard keyboard, music synthesizer and sprite graphics; flexibility within the educational environment; and broad base of available software." (February) * The Commodore 64 g'es on to sell an estimated 17-22 million units in the U.S.

"In 1982, Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) specified that freshmen in science, management and computer science programs be equipped with Atari 800 personal computers." This item g'es on to describe SITís new requirement that freshmen have more powerful minicomputers. (October)

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Dr. Alfred Bork writes that the "transition from Apple II to an IBM PC or an Apple Macintosh is an important increase in computing power. Newer systems in schools and universities are almost inevitably disk-based, they have more memory, they have faster processors and they have better graphics." (October)

1985

 

Columbia University monitors TV signals from the Soviet Union with a custom-designed apparatus mounted atop the 15-story International Affairs Building: "Students and professors on the Columbia campus are receiving up to 15 hours of live domestic broadcasts a day from Moscow in the W. Averell Harriman Institute for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union." (February)

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A seminar at Cal State Fullerton examines the role of CAD (Computer-Aided Design) in architecture and engineering. Bill Breen of Fluor Corp. comments: "With manual methods, you start a job with low accuracy and high flexiblity. Using CAD, you can have high accuracy and high flexibility at both ends of the operation." (February) * Whereas CAD systems once were specially constructed computers, educators today can buy CAD software for workstations or PCs.

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Charles Hoffman, director of the Neighborhood Learning Center (New York), writes about computer access. "There is sufficient indication that, not only in New York, but nationwide, there is recognition of the need to insure computer equity to poor people so that they can actively participate in the future. To attain this objective demands a commitment of resources from federal, state and local government, innovative programming in the non-profit and the public/institutional sector; and increased investment, collaboration and ëpartnershipí from foundations and the business community." (May)

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New Products: "A new laptop computer, the first to incorporate the Microsoft WORKS software package, has been introduced by Heath Co." The "diskless" system utilized RAM and ROM for memory, a printer port, an RS-232 serial port, and a telephone jack for use with the internal 300-baud modem. Unfortunately, it weighed almost eight pounds. (November) * Some of todayís PDAs, which weigh under 16 ounces, perform even more functions.

1986

 

In a Technology Update on printers: "To get the correspondence-quality characters of a daisywheel printer usually means sacrificing speed. For this reason, many dot-matrix manufacturers provide a print mode called near-letter quality which looks almost as good to the naked eye." (January)

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Sin Hitotumatu, a professor at the Research Institute of Mathematical Sciences (Kyoto, Japan), addresses the problem of working with computers in languages other than English: "I am rather pessimistic about the applicability of the technology that includes input by voice or machine translation. Nevertheless, I hope such devices will help improve the pronunciation, rhetoric and other fundamentals of communications at suitable places in education." (January) 

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Grolierís Academic America encyclopedia was already online in 1986, offered through services such as CompuServe. The encyclopedia was updated four times a year. (April)
 

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Senior Editor Evan Birkhead points out that students at the University of Waterloo in Canada "can access mainframes from portable Hewlett-Packard computers ... [and] download software and homework assignments from the universityís LAN by plugging into any of several locations around the campus. They can then carry their computers home or to the library to finish their assignments, and load the work back onto the mainframe where professors can access and grade it." (May) * E-mail has made this procedure even less cumbersome.

1987

 

An advertisement for Microsoft boasts that the company is "Serious About Education." A price list reveals that educators receive discounts on several products for IBM compatibles, such as Fortran ($185 vs. $350), Windows ($53 vs. $99) and Word ($240 vs. $450). (February)

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Dean Sutphin, assistant professor of education at Cornell University, stresses the need for teacher training. "Educators in the 1980s were operating on a limited knowledge and experience base with respect to microcomputer use for educational purposes.Ö Inservice education is needed to implement microcomputer and related technology use in the school curricula." (February)

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The Tandy 1000 HX, an 8088 priced at $699, "has the distinction of a ëpower and runí architecture that puts DOS in ROM and replaces the A> prompt with a user menu. Designed for first-time PC users, it will no doubt sell well to elementary schools." (August) * Recognizing the Macintoshís user-friendly nature, computer manufacturers were already attempting to soften DOSís daunting interface.

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The USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., used the Maestro authoring system to develop interactive multimedia lessons on Videodisc for foreign languages. Maestro let one access ASCII files, use pop-up windows, and add customized icons using C. (August)

1988

 

Two business professors at Central Washington University discuss computer graphics: "For students to be prepared to communicate effectively using graphics, they should be instructed in all of the many aspects of creating and utilizing charts and graphs." (February)

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William Bozeman of the Univ. of Central Florida and Jess House of the Univ. of Toledo examine funding for educational technology: "Despite the current trend of increasing expenditures [by states for hardware and software], debates regarding the effectiveness of computer-based instruction (CBI) are likely to become more than academic as educators consider competing demands for allocation of scarce fiscal resources." (February)

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Optical Disc Technology: "Apple Computer, Digital Equipment Corp. and Microsoft Corp. have announced plans to support the International Standards Organization (ISO) 9660 CD-ROM standard.... Lack of a standard has been cited as a significant barrier to customer acceptance and utilization of CD-ROM technology." (June)

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Roger L. Ratchford, at Fairfield University, Fairfield, Conn., devised a unique strategy to counter studentsí daydreaming: utilizing Strategic Simulationsí Battle for Normandy wargame simulation in a French course. He reports that "daydreaming was clearly reduced by the subject matter and through the anticipation of future events in the computer laboratory." (June) * Now, there are multiple software titles integrating simulations and other types of "games" into the curriculum.

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In a feature titled "CD-ROM: A New Technology With Promise for Education," authors Tanner and Bane present some disadvantages of CD-ROM technology in 1988: "A disadvantage ... is that data is "read-only," meaning that the user cannot save onto the compact disc.... The read-only limitation requires that current CD-ROM be considered a medium for publication of data rather than for user storage." (August) * Todayís CD-R units have overcome this limitation.

1989

 

Product Profile: "A new series of mid-range computer systems-- the AS/400 series, short for Application Systems/400 -- has been unveiled by IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y. Six different models share a new operating system and state-of-the-art architecture." (February)

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Educators at Memphis State University at Memphis City Schools write about "Distance Tutoring" in an Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) project: "A key objective was to provide each student and teacher with one computer to use at school and another to use at home.Ö The tutor leaves assignments and writes messages over an electronic Bulletin Board System (BBS) accessed by modem." (February)

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More than 485,000 CompuServe subscribers can access an extensive and timely collection of information on computer-related industries via Computer Database Plus, a new online resource from Information Access Co. The database contains full-text articles from 50 publications, and abstracts for dozens more. (April)

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Terian Tyre, Managing Editor, writes that the "universality of structure is one of the reasons why UNIX remains popular; code written for one UNIX system is easily ported to another. It is also why UNIX is a platform utilized worldwide ... and why all programming languages have a built-in hook for UNIX." (November) * Today, UNIX is still firmly entrenched in higher education.

1990

 

The University of Southwestern Louisiana replaces the mainframe computer in its Center for Advanced Computer Studies: "A new $6 million IBM 3090/200 mainframe computer, capable of executing 28 million instructions per second, will allow the university to accelerate its progress into the next generation of information technology." (March)

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Paul Conway of Harvard University discusses the introduction of voice-processing technology on campus: "Later this year, many Harvard students will have the option of subscribing to voice mail for a fee. This would give them a new study aid in addition to their books and personal computers -- the voice mailbox." (April)

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Multimedia Products: "Audio Notes are compact discs containing digitally-recorded music, other audio material, text and graphics, resulting in a whole new genre of information-enriched music recordings [that are] compatible with the forthcoming CD+G players." (June) * CD+G never caught on, made unnecessary by the declining cost and broad acceptance of CD-ROM players.

1991

 

The U.S. Education Department awards $14.8 million to four regional partnerships under the Star Schools Program to expand educational opportunities in rural, disadvantaged and isolated areas. "The partnerships provide classroom instruction from central locations using live, interactive satellite uplinks; hands-on computer programs; and videodisc software." (March)

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Allegheny College invests heavily in the NeXT platform: "Nearly every department is creating an enormous base of courseware consisting of static text and graphics with a few fields for interaction.Ö The college also makes extensive use of NeXTís built-in Ethernet and TCP/IP network capabilities." (September)

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"Communications networks among similar educational institutions are expanding, as are state and local-area networks designed for both instructional and administrative applications," writes Dr. Charp. "With the academic community recognizing the value of instant access to colleagues, especially those engaged in similar research, substantial growth of educational networks has resulted in systems such as: BITNET, a computer network for higher education and research; CSNET, the Computer Science Network; and NSFNET, the National Science Foundation Network." (June)

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According to author Michael A. Burke, "The need for rapid information access and its availability in electronic form will enhance the library media specialistís role of curriculum consultant and information provider." He g'es TO the mention that the "success of this transition depends heavily on the inservice training of library media staff..." (November)

1992

 

Software/Courseware: Billed as the first of its kind, Lotus SmarText Release 2.0 for Windows, which automatically converts documents to hypertext, is "suited for creating online versions of reference manuals and other information for inclusion in a network or BBS." (May)

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In a Guest Editorial, Dave Brittain, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the Florida Department of Education, looks at efforts in his state: "We will see a greater reliance on distance learning, especially for teacher training and staff development. Whole schools will be networked and access to teachers, students and databases all over the world will be routine occurrences." (September)

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Product Profile: Zenith Data Systemsí Z-NOTE notebooks "are the first DOS-compatible notebooks with built-in connectivity to LANs. These computers take ëplug-n-playí networking literally; both hardware and software are integrated." (September)

 1993

 

Dr. Peter E. Kneedler of the California Department of Education writes about the adoption of Science 2000, a complete non-textbook, seventh-grade science package: "Teachers can customize Science 2000 to include their special knowledge or unique experiences, or adjust lessons to meet the differing needs of students." (February)

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Two professors from the University of North Texas tell readers about the file transfer protocol (ftp): "There is a wealth of information available on the Internet to computer users, regardless of their hardware platform, and ftp is the key to its access." (May)

1994

 

After constructing and implementing an innovative technology lab that includes modular work stations, CAD/CAM, a wind tunnel, CNC lathe and more, high school teacher Michael S. Szabo writes that: "Enrollment in the class has nearly tripled [and] the class itself has assumed a more positive connotation in the school. ëItís not just shop anymore.í No longer are only traditional shop students involved, but more college-bound technical students are attracted." (June)

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Researchers at the University of Utah call for more parental involvement in education. The authors worked with teachers at Jordan School District, which started a Computer Home Study Program. "A small BBS has been set up for parents to use and download shareware as well as the growing body of teacher-produced tutorials." (August)

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In an article entitled "MOSAIC: An Educatorís Best Friend," professors from The University of Alabama at Birmingham write: "Besides the ability to search Internet servers for particular data, MOSAIC allows access to specific resources such as libraries and their card catalogs.Ö In many ways, using MOSAIC makes the Internet seem like a giant encyclopedia of information about anything of interest to anyone." (October)

1995

 

Pacific Bell moves forward with Education First, an initiative to connect Californiaís schools to the Internet. "Through the end of 1996, the firm is offering to install up to four ISDN lines for free and waive one yearís usage charges for all 7,400 public K-12 schools, public libraries and community colleges in their service territory." (March)
 

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In a feature titled "CD-ROM Mastering: What Are Your Publishing Options?" Bryan Carter of the University of Georgia points out that, "In 1991, the cost of CD-ROM recording systems was nearly $40,000. Today, more technologically advanced systems can be had for under $6,000." (February) * In September, 1996, Associate Editor William Willisí article "Publish CDs Cheaper and Easier Than Ever" highlights CD-R drive/software packages, some costing as little as $600!

1996

 

News: "CollegeNET, a Web site, provides a vast database of colleges, universities and trade schools to prospective students. Students can apply to multiple schools under CollegeNET without retyping common information; participating schools automatically receive completed applications without having to interpret handwriting or rekey data." (January)

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Dr. Linda Roberts, U.S. Department of Education, writes about the Clinton administrationís educational technology initiatives. "President Clinton signed the landmark Telecommunications Act of 1996, which advances use of telecommunications for schools and libraries and provides for affordable access." (June)

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In a Trends article on Internet Access and Web Tools, Associate Editor Jeff Carmona notes that "several vendors are developing low-cost ënetwork computersí (NCs) that comply with Internet specifications. Intended to be no larger than a VCR, the NC contains a modest amount of RAM and little or no local storage. Some prototype devices let one browse the Web through a television using a remote control or wireless keyboard." (October) * Less than a year later, both the NC and "TV set Web browser" are gaining popularity, with firms like Microsoft discussing the eventual integration of the Web and television.

1997

Stay Tuned... T.H.E. Journal begins its 25th volume in August 1997.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/1997 issue of THE Journal.

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