I met Bob Albrecht around 1966. He told me of his vision for kids and
computers. I was already familiar with Pat Suppes' work at Stanford, and
had visited Suppes' East Palo Alto test site. Bob's vision was different:
more creative, less fundable.
When PCC opened, Bob invited me to visit. I was impressed. I lived
close by for a few years in the '70s, and stopped in occasionally to
watch kids and other visitors play.
Peninsula School kids went to PCC to use the computers. My daughter
was one. In 1977, Phyllis Cole and I bought a Commodore PET for the
school, making it one of the first schools to use commercial personal
computers as learning tools. There was no software yet for the PET, so
some friends of the school developed a few titles, mostly inspired by what
we had seen at MECC and PCC. Peninsula sold the software so consumers
and other schools could have something to run on their PETs. But the
programs sold too well. The school had to pull them off the market to
avoid threatening its non-profit status.
Around that time, Phyllis and Marc LeBrun took over the editorial
tasks for PCC Newspaper from Bob Albrecht. When PCC Newspaper became
People's Computers magazine, Phyllis became editor. She persuaded me to
write articles about our PET software, which I did.
That was probably my last contact with PCC. I was working at Xerox
PARC at the time, in Alan Kay's Learning Research Group. I left PARC in
1980 to join Apple, where I held many posts, some related to educational
I left Apple in 1997 to co-found Stagecast, a K-12 software company,
where I still am today. Stagecast Creator was chosen by the readers of
Technology & Learning magazine as one of 20 "best software products of
the past decade" and has won other awards. With Creator, kids today can
make by themselves most of the games that their parents played at PCC
or saw in the PCC newspaper. I have gone full circle.
Among Stagecast's friends are several alumni of PCC. David Thornburg
is on our Advisory Board. Jane Laidley's company produced our QuickStart
card. I welcome all PCC alumni to check out the Stagecast web site and
see what we have empowered kids to do.