Computers Column

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Classroom computer use grew faster last year than ever before, and about half of all public schools now use computers, according to a recent survey by Market Data Retrieval.

In a survey of all school districts conducted between July and September, the Connecticut-based market-research firm found that 31,069 schools started using computers in classes last year, and that almost 56,000 public schools now use them.

There now are about 300,000 computers in U.S. public schools, the survey found, including 135,000 in high schools, 110,000 in elementary schools, and 55,000 in junior-high and middle schools.

The number of elementary schools using computers tripled to almost 32,000 last year, according to the survey.

Businesses that do not team up with local schools and governmental agencies to provide training in computers are "damn fools," says a leading figure in the creation of what is believed to be the first community-wide computer education program.

John Hansen, the chairman of Winnebago Industries in Forest City, Iowa, made the remark at the ceremonial opening of a computer-education program that will involve the Forest City Public School District, Winnebago, the Control Data Corporation, and Waldorf College.

Under the $1-million program, students from kindergarten through college and employees of the company will receive computer instruction in areas ranging from simple arithmetic to sales techniques. They will gain access to Control Data's plato programs with terminals linked to the company's large mainframe computer in Minnesota.

Barbara Bulman, the director of intercorporate communications for Winnebago, said the company decided to launch the cooperative project to improve the ability of workers to adapt to changing technologies while working for the company. More than one-third of the company's employees attended public schools in the area.

Control Data will pay for 40 percent of the initial costs, schools will pay 10 percent, and Winnebago and other community groups will pay the rest, Ms. Bulman said.

The long-awaited "Peanut" microcomputer, the International Business Machines Corporation entry into the personal-microcomputer market, was unveiled last month under the official name pcjr.

Mass deliveries of the system will begin early next year, but computer-industry experts have expressed doubts about whether ibm can produce enough machines to meet the early demand.

ibm announced that it would produce two versions of the computer--one with 64 K of user-memory, which will sell for $669, and one with 128 K of memory, which will sell for $1,269. Both systems will be compatible with much of the software written for the $4,000 ibm-pc

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University has ordered 1,600 of the machines for faculty members and students.--ce

Vol. 03, Issue 11

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