On June 30th, 2000, the Burroughs ICON computer lab at our school closed. After about fifteen years of introducing computers to some 3000 children at our school, it had all disappeared from the classroom in less than two hours.
The Burroughs ICON computer was born during the early 1980's. The schools in the province of Ontario Canada were in a chaotic state when it came to the introduction of computers to the classroom. There was just no consistency between school boards or even schools.
The platforms were as varied as the population. There was no clear direction of what a school should do. Should the choice be Apple with the Apple II running Applesoft, IBM with the XT running Microsoft DOS, or a truly Canadian solution - Commodore with the Pet running CP/M.
The school system being so varied that each board was left to its own direction. The wealthier the board of education, the more money was appropriated for Information Technology. Even within school boards equity was not assured because each school community could afford different capital outlays depending on the parents affluence. As late as December of 1999, some classrooms were still equipped with Commodore 64s which were often out of order due to lack of trained repair technicians.
In 1983 or there abouts, the Ontario Government created a Crown corporation called the Canadian Education Microprocessor Corporation, CEMCORP for short. (This corporation has long since collapsed and died.)
It's mission statement was the following:
Computers are fast becoming an integral part of our lives. It is impossible not to come in contact with one as we go through our daily activities, even if it is only in the form of a cash register or an automatic banking machine.
Children are also exposed to these on a daily basis, but often only at the level of a video game. Because computers have become so prevalent in society, today's children will be expected to be able to use them competently when they enter the work force. Educational institutions have recognized this need and have begun to implement computer education courses on a wider scale and at successively lower grades.
When computers were first developed they were huge, immensely complicated machines, and only the highly skilled could use them. Since that time the development and growth in the computer industry has been dramatic. Circuitry that used to fill a room is available in a chip no bigger than the tip of your finger. Software development has also progressed rapidly from the early days of machine language to icon-driven interfaces controlled by a mouse or trackball. Now computers can be used by everyone, even preschoolers.
The ICON was specifically designed for education, using the most sophisticated technology and software concepts available today. The ICON can be used to teach computer languages (the traditional concept of computer learning), or as a tool to help children in a variety of areas such as geography, history, science, languages, and writing skills through word processing. The ways in which the ICON can be used in the classroom are virually limitless.
ICON USER'S GUIDE
July 5, 1985
Copyright © 1985 CEMCORP
900-021-01 Rev. 1