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Time for schools to retire those old Apple IIs

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

Simple gray rule

Time for schools to retire those old Apple IIs 

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1991, The Syracuse Newspapers

A fellow editor called the other day to ask where he could rent an Apple computer. He said his wife was taking a course at an area university, and the professor had told her she had to use an Apple in the course.

I tried to think of a few places that rent them, and it occurred to me that maybe he should just buy a Mac instead.

"A Mac?" he said. "I'm talking about an Apple II!"

An Apple II? The original small home computer, the one that started the PC revolution more than a decade ago? The one that Apple doesn't even advertise any more?


The one that Apple is even reportedly planning to take in trade for purchases of Macintoshes over the next year?

You got it.

The professor's reasoning, my colleague said, is that Apple II computers are still used in many schools, and so the teachers-in-training who take his course should learn how to use them.

I won't waste time arguing about whether that makes sense. What I propose instead is that the three manufacturers of modern personal computersóApple, Commodore and Atariówake up and donate thousands of Macs, Amigas and STs to American school districts.

An inexpensive Mac, Amiga or ST is the minimum PC that children should learn computing on. Regular readers know that I have little regard for IBM-compatible PCs, but even they are better than Apple IIs for educational use.

One caution: If you're a fan of the Apple II, please don't write to tell me how great your little computer is. I've heard your arguments before. Apple IIs will live on in thousands of homes because so many of their owners are loyal, and that's the way it should be.

But our schools deserve better. So do our students.

And so do our teachers in training.

After all, technology is making computing faster, easier and cheaper. Our schools should have recognized that seven years ago, when the Mac was introduced.

Do we have to wait another decade before doing something about it?

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