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Re: Elevator hacks, PLATO, Dept of Ed...

I remember the project starting at a location in Newport, do you remember
where that was?

-----Original Message-----
From: George Robbins <grr@shandakor.tharsis.com>
To: deltoids@mcws.net <deltoids@mcws.net>
Date: Wednesday, April 29, 1998 3:07 PM
Subject: Re: Elevator hacks, PLATO, Dept of Ed...

>> From: Bob Mader <Bob.Mader@digital.com>
>> To: deltoids@mcws.net
>> Subject: Elevator hacks, PLATO, Dept of Ed...
>> Date: Wed, 29 Apr 1998 12:04:39 -0400
>> I can't help but notice that we haven't heard from many of the
>> folks who were involved in the early days of Delta. I hope they
>> aren't getting the impression that Delta met it demise in the early
>> 80's due to all of this mischief. There was still lots of good
>> learning going on.
>Well, some of us are here lurking...
>> However, in my correspondence with Teresa Green and the Baker's
>> (Clark and Ed), I've gotten the distinct impression that Delta was
>> very different in the early days. It seems that under the EE
>> Department, Delta was more focused on getting students involved in
>> learning about how the computer worked. With the transition out of
>> Dupont Hall and over to the Department of Education, the priorities
>> seemed to change. Now, the computer was view as a teaching tool on
>> which applications were to be developed (like PLATO where the
>> operating system was totally hidden from the users).
>Well in the earlier days "Delta", operations was just Teresa and her
>HS student helpers, with some support from Dan Grim (a grad student
>at the time) and Dave Robinson (EE Prof).  There was a relatively
>small core group that actually did hands-on stuff, and a larger group
>of "contact students", ~2 from each HS that were less involved, though
>some of them moved into the core group.
>While I think the project orginated with Teresa when she was associated
>with the College of Education, once it moved off-campus it was quite
>independent.  When it moved back into the EE department, the relationship
>was more that the EE dept was hosting delta - providing a place for them
>while it wasn't really involved in running the project.  Dave had his
>own HS outreach program (a Thursday night seminar with HS students
>having access to the EE dept PDP-8's, etc).  In this phase there was
>probably more non-HS involvement, since some of the orginal core group
>had graduated and there were technically competent college students at
>hand rather than at school.
>The eventual move to Willard and the College of Education was probably
>the handwriting on the wall, with them unable to host the project without
>wanting to be in control and have it further College of Ed goals, in
>addition to doing things for HS Students.  I'd already left for the real
>world long before then, and lost touch except for some years later, by
>which time the computer had been moved to the Computer center, with the
>Delta folks doing whatever they did remotely from Willard, without much
>love on the part of the Computer Center staff.
>There are probably a bunch of tales of the politics involved in the
>various transitions, but I think that's up to the the principles to
>discuss,  as it's hard for the help not to get very politicized without
>really having full access to the underlying departmnental politics and
>funding issues.
>> Anyway, I didn't mean to get on such a tirade. I wonder, though,
>> if anyone would care to comment on this? Were things really different
>> during the EE days (before my time at Delta 77-80)? And does anybody
>> know the story of what happened at the very end of Delta? Did the
>> Department of Education just run it into the ground, or did the
>> PC/Mac's make it obsolete or what?
>I don't know directly, but at the time Delta started, it was unthinkable
>for an individual school to have a computer for student use - even the
>districts that had computerized for report cards and payroll were using
>services or involved in the DICE consortium (powered by an IBM1401).
>When the project Delta teletype arrived at Concord HS, it replaced
>an electromechanical calculator with access to the Burroughs B5500,
>which was a general purpose, multi-language timesharing system,
>something that took RSTS several years to evolve towards.  Brandywine
>had a card-programmed Wang electronic calculator.
>A few years later, the schools had access to affordable programmable
>calculators (still desktop) and there were the time-sharing vs.
>calculator wars among the teachers.  Later a few schools were able to
>set up the own internal mini-Deltas using cheaper PDP-11 family members
>and eventually the coming of the PC's would make centralized facilities
>irrelevant to the purposed of the HS educators, at least until the
>internet would come along.
>There was also always some conflict about whether computer access was
>supposed to be to further general educational uses (tools) or teach
>computer skills (tech) - most of the folks on the list are probably
>thinking the latter, which was probably not a primary goal during the
>earlier days...
> regards; George