Computer truths from the 80’s

The following comes from a printout of a couple pages from Principal Magazine from November 1987. Some are timeless and some are dated. I eliminated several. Comments in parenthesis are mine.

General Observations

  1. For every 100 teachers of computer programming, 95 are either one step ahead of their students or two steps behind.
  2. Computer companies seldom answer letters, but if they do it is always after you’ve solved the problem. (And we think email is slow.)
  3. Everything you purchase or learn is already obsolete, as someone will delight in telling you. (You’ve seen the recent commercial, right?)
  4. Everyone wants computer studies in the curriculum, but no one wants comuter studies to replace anything in the curriculum. (Sounds like the arts).
  5. It costs too much to develop short and long range plans for computer education, and it costs too much not to. (Remember, this is the 80’s)
  6. If you are given a subscription to a computer magazine, it won’t provide information about your computer.
  7. Students engaged in intense computer activity have sneaked in a game from home (or are at a game site online.)

Computer Manuals

  1. Manuals are written to make the writer look intelligent and the reader stupid.
  2. The one thing you want to know is never included in the documentation.
  3. Topics you wish to investigate are missing from the index.
  4. If you wish to teach yourself how to use a computer, disk drive, monitor and printer to run a program, you will need to read 1,000 pages in the manuals five times; buy two more books to help you decipher the 5,000 pages, contact six computer friends for assistance; and make four long-distance calls to the software and hardware companies. (Some things never change)

Inservice Education (all of these are dated)

  1. Inservice computer literacy programs emphasize four important ideas: (a) how to turn on the computer and its peripheral parts ; (b) how to insert a disk (at the time this was written, these would have been the large, now long extinct 5.25″ ‘floppy’ disks. All programs were on the disks, not the computer); (c) how to remove a disk; and finally, (d) how to turn off the computer and its peripheral parts.
  2. It is often advisable to ask a fifth grade student to teach the inservice computer literacy program.
  3. Not all teachers learn how to turn on a computer during a computer literacy course.
  4. Not all teachers are delighted about having to take a computer literacy course.

Word Processing (read carefully)

  1. The word processing disk will never work the day before important papers are due.
  2. Word processing with a color monitor is a psychedelic experience (have you even seen a monichrome monitor with the green or white text?)

K-8 Programs All students want to take computer programming until they find out that Pac Man is not part of the course of study.


  1. It will rain when you take the computer out of the building.
  2. The room scheduled for your demonstration will be on the third floor with no elevator (i.e. having to carry a large computer, monitor, keyboard, disk drive, cables, etc).
  3. The room will not have a table large enough or stable enough to hold your computer…..

Networks. No one actually knows what a network is.

Consultants. you can never afford anything they suggest or understand anything they say.



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