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Ask Slashdot: What Were You Taught About Computers In High School? 632

An anonymous reader writes "What was taught to you about computers in High School? Computer use and computer science in schools are regular headlines, but what 'normal' do we compare it to? It's not a shared reference. A special class with Commodore PETs was set up just after I graduated, and I'm only starting to grey. Everybody younger has had progressive levels of exposure. What was 'normal' for our 40-, 30-, and 20-year olds here? And how well did it work for you, and your classmates?" For that matter, what's it like now — if you're in middle or high school now, or know students who are, what's the tech curriculum like?
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Ask Slashdot: What Were You Taught About Computers In High School?

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  • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Sunday October 07, 2012 @06:38PM (#41579315) Homepage Journal

    Summer school, sure...

    In the 80s, went to some summer camp after 2nd grade that had some science and tech classes... apart from getting into trouble by sticking a knife into an electrical outlet and playing lots of Spy Hunter (I was like, a god for a day because I made it to the boats level), that was probably my first into to Logo. But we didn't do anything amazing with it.

    Somewhere around 6th grade at an International Catholic school in Thailand they gave us a touch typing class. That was genuinely useful, and accounts tracked our progress over the sessions, which was pretty remarkable given that they were green-screen DOS boxes or something crappy and barely networked. Later on in HS in the US, maybe 9th or 10th grade, they threw us in a short one-time "computer lab" with some typing tutor software, but that was crap.

    Around 11th grade (1994), we had some CAD work on Macs in tech ed., but that was only because we were in a special Science & Tech magnet program... don't think that would have been the norm at most high schools.

    Also, I used to spend my lunch breaks in the library, playing with the nice 3D graphing calculator on MacOS9. But I was, like, the only one, even in a magnet school.

    That was pretty much it. Everything else I learned from my own tinkering at home with a Turbo Pascal book, playing with POVRay, and reading my TI-85 calculator user's manual straight through and programming a crappy Galaga clone. I never felt like I had what it takes to become a fully-fledged CS programmer like my friends who were self-taught into doing awesome demoscene assembly, so I ran off and majored in mechanical and aerospace engineering instead. Engineers seem to get bigger computers to play with anyway :P

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @06:57PM (#41579485)

      Clueless PE teacher for me.

      "If you install Doom on one of these computers again, I'll have you expelled. You could have infested every computer in here with a virus."

      [the computers were not networked]

      • 1979? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @07:22PM (#41579725) Homepage Journal

        Fortran 77 and UCSD Pascal on DEC PDP-11/70.

        Honeywell teletypes.

        • Fortran 77 and UCSD Pascal on DEC PDP-11/70.

          Honeywell teletypes.

          Ah, the PDP-11/70. I got introduced to BASIC programming on one back in 1978. I mainly remember two things: 1) Wasting a lot of tractor feed paper playing Star Trek against my friend; and 2) Since all the accounts had the same default password, logging into all the ones where the user hadn't changed it and leaving them a little surprise (nothing nasty - when they logged on they'd get a message "you know, you really should change your password!").

        • by PNutts ( 199112 )

          Fortran 77 and UCSD Pascal on DEC PDP-11/70.

          Holy cow. Me, too. And I'll add I'm damn lucky in those days they didn't know what to do with people that wandered into parts of the system they didn't belong. I was dumb enough to write a program that I was sure would shut the system down and smart enough to not run it.

        • Re:1979? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @12:41AM (#41581505) Journal

          Ah, the DEC 11 series...

          I worked on (and loved) a (then) ancient DEC 11/750, which was, hands down, the most robust, reliable computer I've ever worked on. Armed with 4 MB of RAM and 1 GB of disk space (3x350-ish hard drives, each the size of a full dresser drawer) it managed to provide the needs of 30 or so staff in the 4-story building I worked in. This when a 386sx was considered some pretty hot stuff - the DEC had roughly the processing power of a 286.

          I was fascinated by the thing, and worked closely with the techie they called in when things went south, just because I wanted to and my boss trusted me to do the right thing. (I generally did) It was so advanced, it would detect bad memory, and not only reallocate the memory via Virtual memory to another memory spot (and log it so you knew which memory was bad) but would also identify what occupied the memory that had gone bad and pull the relevant programming from disk and continue executing the program.

          Once the A/C went out, and the room overheated, crashing the computer. It took most of a day to get the A/C fixed, and when it was fixed and the computer turned back on, all the programs that had been running when it died resumed working without a hitch, it had literally mapped all the memory to disk prior to shutdown.

          I was stunned. Never before (or since) have I seen such bad-assedry in a computer system I had the pleasure of working on, even though I now design/maintain a fault-tolerant, redundant, load balanced distributed compute cluster for a living, with at least a million times the horsepower of that elegant, beautiful 11/750.

      • I learned more 'about' computers in gradeschool than I did in highschool. Our computer science teacher actually tried to explain what the actual parts of the computer were, and how they worked. This was back in the very early 90s, and most of the hardware in the labs were macintosh or apple IIe or IIgs.

        By the time I hit middleschool, his curriculum had been curtailed down to essentially teaching word processing.

        By highschool, it was a total joke, focused around... yet more word processing.

        Not a single prog

      • Hey, don't knock the clueless PE teachers. I got out of running around the oval repeatedly by telling one I had a comptuer virus! :)
      • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @09:24PM (#41580545)

        Not that it's what he meant, but computer-floppy-computer was probably the most common disease vector back then. In the pre-internet era, anyway. Floppies-from-home were plague-bearers. At one point I think my school had some sort of quarantine.

        So it's quite possible for a floppy virus to infect an entire lab, but I'll grant that Mr. Jock probably wasn't that savvy.

    • Around 11th grade (1994), we had some CAD work on Macs in tech ed., but that was only because we were in a special Science & Tech magnet program... don't think that would have been the norm at most high schools.

      I was in High School in the late 90's. It was a really good high school, but not a magnet program. As electives, they had two computer science courses for anyone who was interested, which were actually quite excellent, taught by a very good teacher. I'm pretty sure he was the one who pushed the program. He was the math teacher, with a personal interest and experience in programming.

      When I was in both classes, we were learning Turbo Pascal. The year after I completed the courses, they switched to C. I

      • Mine was good for a high school AP comp sci class in the 80s. We had a lab of IBM PC/2s, linked by Ethernet, but no Internet.

        Subject matter was taught in Pascal: searching and sorting algorithms (everything from bubble to various trees to radix), data structures (arrays but then progressing to linked lists, trees, balanced trees... probably hit peak at sparse matrices.) All in all, a really good program, mainly because we had a good teacher who knew his stuff. It set me up pretty well for a CS degree
  • To even be able to touch the TRS-80s in the computer lab, you had to have at least a C average in Algebra.

    • On balance, the internet would be a better place.

    • If only elections were run similarly....

    • by MonkeyPaw ( 8286 )

      That was the same in our school in the early 80's but the computer lab was your last stop on the advanced math classes. For some reason they thought you needed a full understand of trigonometry to make a computer say "hello world" and save that program to a data cassette.

  • In the mid 80's in Canada we used Icon's, which were QNX terminals. I learned and watched that if somebody watches over the shoulder of the teacher they could get the root password, and copy all of the system files into a local directory thus buggering up the entire network. It buggered things up so badly the teacher that was the admin could not fix it themselves. It was not me, but a guy I was working on the computers with. Me at the time I was using Pet's and writing in Waterloo Basic. I built my first IS

  • in high school (I graduated in '89) as a freshman I was able to take the senior level programming class where we did fortran and cobol via remote sessions to a server at UF. Freshmen thru Juniors had programming in TRS-80 BASIC, which I had been doing for a while already so I was able to pass out of those classes.

    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      In summer school during middle school we were introduced to basic on a teletype hooked up to some mainframe. It was good exposure, though taught me little, as a high school freshman we were taught how to break apart a problem into steps and then express them clearly. We did not touch a computer or six weeks, this to me is when I learned to program, we then learned to compile and link in fortan and developed some rudimentary programs. This was followed with some programming in basic on the apple, and s
    • Wow, you lucked out.

      At my high school, class of '04, the best computer class they had was for MS Office. The only mandatory class was for typing -- which I was still forced to take despite doing ~90wpm from programming. Both of these classes were taught by the home ec / career counseling teacher, who was pretty clueless about computers.

      I've never thought about it before, but my elementary and middle schools had far better options. Both were taught by true computer enthusiasts -- in elementary (1-5) I got my

  • There are a couple exceptions, cad and electronics we got to use some old beaters, otherwise what we were thought about computers was that all these brand new powermac's were silly expensive and you are not to touch them, though they made a point to brag about how many they had in the library.

  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Sunday October 07, 2012 @06:42PM (#41579349) Homepage Journal

    Honestly the best school/computer experience I had was in Elementary school in the early 80s. It was actually quite early in computer education history for a school to have a computer in every room and computer labs, but our little country school in northern Indiana had them (Apple IIs and Atari 400/800s) and we had a couple sessions each week were we would try different programs and just experience them. They even had us writing short programs as early as 2nd grade. All the computer classes I took after that in high school and at the college level were woefully out of date and had teachers/professors who either didn't know what they were talking about or who were teaching 20 year old technologies. So if you want to compare computer education now to something before, the bar isn't very high as far as I'm concerned.

    • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @07:12PM (#41579641) Homepage
      We had a different kind of computer lab. When I was in 2nd grade or so (1992) we had a computer bus. It was a school bus converted to a lab with around 25 apple ]['s on it and would travel to all the elementary schools in the district (district had around 3000 kids total at the time give or take I believe) We would mainly use it to do math games at the time and the greatest days of the school year were when we got to play oragon trail. I got my first dos based system the next year and started learning the ins and outs.

      When we hit middleschool (96) they had just done an upgrade to their network running the latest and greatest compaqs loaded with windows 95. non green screens? to most in the school this was unheard of as the majority would have only used the machines in the previously mentioned computer bus up until this point. The only problem with this was that it was new. The teachers had no idea what they were doing there was 1 "computer guy" at the school and no real management other than 3rd party support. Thats where the geeks came in. myself and a few others who were messing around for a few years at this point had more access to the machines than the principal of the school. We were given full access to everything because we were "so smart" because we could install a printer driver or "log in". It was great learning the ins and outs of an entire network as up until this point I had only had my single machine to hold me over.

      Than around the time the original imac came out, someone convinced the school to order those to replace our highschools perfectly fine dell network. It turned into a disaster att he time because they only replaced maybe a dozen of the 40 or so machines in the labs. It would not have been too big of a deal but around this point in time they were becoming more strict about who had any access to the network and the new computer people were, well computer people and wanted to do everything their way. A mixed environment, around that period of time was not a pleasent experience, the printer was always out of order and had memory overloads (who thought sending 40 computers work to a printer with 400K of memory at the same time was a good idea, ill never know) Wireless was new technology being touted as the future for everything IP6 was coming to the masses within the next 2 years...10 years ago.

      so other than sparking my interest with the apple ][ in 1st or 2nd grade, I along with the other 4 or 5 geeks pretty much taught my teachers about comptuers, not the other way around
  • by pinroot ( 166809 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @06:46PM (#41579373)

    I graduated in 1973. What did I learn about computers there? Nothing at all.

    You damn kids get off my lawn...

  • -How to make it say hello in Basic once, or use a goto command to make it repeat forever.
    -How to hit ctrl+c to make it stop
    -How to use basic commands like catalog ("cat", eventually this because "dir"), list, run, save, and print.
    -The difference between a KoalaPad [wikipedia.org] and a mouse.
    -And eventually how to play Zork and Oregon Trail.

  • We... (Score:4, Informative)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @06:47PM (#41579379)

    ...were taught BASIC and 6502 Assembly.

    Machines used: the year before I got into compsci at the highschool - a PDP11
    First semester doing compsci: TRS80 model IV machines.
    Second semester: we got a bunch of Apple IIe machines, which is how we got the assembly programming done.

    Prerequisites were pre-algebra or algebra1 taken concurrently.


  • High School Now... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MisterMonday ( 2555300 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @06:49PM (#41579393)
    I'm currently a junior at high school, and really, the tech curriculum can't even be called that in my opinion. The best, and most in-depth, course at my school is Computer Science A AP (There used to be a B, but that was cancelled). I'm in it right now, and I basically sleep through all the classes. While it's true that for anyone who hasn't at any prior programming experience it's a bit more of a challenge, I only had a bare-bones introduction to C (not even a lot of pointer stuff, I had stop going to classes early), and even the object oriented stuff is not that hard. Granted, it's still early in the year. But in comparison, the rest of the tech curriculum is just Word Processing 101 and Microsoft Office. There's very little in the way of how computers work or how to program (Comp Sci AP is the only programming class). And it's a little depressing when you hear someone in your class say, "Wow, X person built a computer by himself," and you respond, "That's not too hard if he just bought the parts and put it together," and their next line is "But it's really hard. He must have programmed it himself and stuff." I think half the problem today is insufficient technology education in schools, which is why the "Tech Guy" stereotype even exists. And don't even get me started on the terrible security of my school district...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I went to a large high school from 1999 and graduated in 2003. We had three computer science classes and two programming classes. The programming classes were like Visual Basic I and Visual Basic II. The computer science classes were taught in Java.

      I'm amazed that there is no real effort to do much other than introduce computers in schools elementary/middle/and high school. Even that is more like an indoctrination to Microsoft/Apple/Adobe. Not something of value.

      Even in college I'd say 99% of it was self-ta

  • Middle School(early 90s): All sorts of stuff with Apple IIes and Power PCs. School bought an Apple QuickTake when it came out, so we did digital graphics design and digital photography
    High School(late 90s): Networking, C++, PC and Mac troubleshooting... took every opportunity to learn about computers, and was granted many of them
  • That electronic computers were huge "electronic brains" used by goverment and a few big companies.

  • by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @06:50PM (#41579411) Homepage
    We had IBM model PS/2 model 25's and 30's. They are basically the same machine, but the model 30 was a beige box while the model 25 had an integral monitor. Both had the fantastic model M keyboard.

    Above all else, I learned that you need to hire the ferry to cross the river. Fording the river is a fool's game.
  • 96-2000. The only computer-related course we had at my high school was a typing class, run by the driving instructor. I think the program we were using must have been an old version of word perfect, because it had the blue background and white text. It always felt horribly outdated there.

  • by minkie ( 814488 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @06:50PM (#41579421)

    I graduated from a pretty typical suburban NJ high school in 1977. We had an HP 9810 (http://www.hpmuseum.net/display_item.php?hw=51), and also a ARS-33 connected to a time-shared BASIC system a few towns away. I got to play with them my junior and senior years. That was my first introduction to any sort of computer. It was, or course, also my first introduction to computer games (hunt the wumpus, lunar landrer, and some kind of Star Trek thing where you got to explore the galaxy and blow up klingons with photon torpedos.

    I was also lucky to spend the summer between my last two years of high school at a program run by Stevens Tech, where I was exposed to FORTRAN and PDP-10 assembler (both via punch cards).

    • I went to high school near Hampton, VA. In 1978 we had an acoustic modem and a printer terminal and could hook into the mainframe at NASA Langley. So, we actually had some exposure back then. No classes were built around it though. So, what we learned was completely on our own.
  • I learned to write programs in pascal for my first class.... The next class.... I learned hyper card and director because the teacher was getting ready to retire.

  • i was born in 1972, schooled in southern california.
    grew up with IBM punchcards all over the house.
    in 6th grade we had an apple ][ in the classroom,
    but as i recall only as a treat: if you finished work early you could play Prince of Persia.
    but even then a very small group of us would hang out in the library after school or at lunch
    and teach ourselves basic. there was no concept of teaching us how to program in school.

    by the time i reached 12th grade, there was a 'computer literacy' class offered,
    i think the

  • I don't think we were taught anything about computers in class, but there was a computer programming club. We used PORTRAN, which is a cut-down version of FORTRAN - I think it stands for Port-a-punch FORTRAN. The cards were sent away to a computer a few hundred km away, and a syntax error listing came back by the following week. It wasn't exactly a productive environment, so we competed to see who could get the most different errors in a single program.

  • In elementary school in Connecticut, we had commodore 64s and messed about with logo. The high school's computer lab had Franklin ACE clones. My family had an Apple IIe.

    In middle school (in VirginiaI programmed basic on an Atari --might have been an 800, did word processing stuff on Apple IIe s. In High school, we did desktop publishing with a few mac pluses, and a SE. I didn't go to the school with the "supercomputer".

  • I used an Apple IIe in elementary about 1983-1984 (5th and 6th grades), had IBM compatibles on DOS in middle school (7th and 8th about 1985-1987) then IBM PCs in high school, Windows 2.0, upgraded to 3.0 senior year. I had the win 3.0 floppies (they had so many at school they threw them out) up until a couple years ago. Got 3.0 running on my home XT, but it was dog slow, but then everything was on the XT, except for games tied to the system clock, press "turbo" and 8MHz made all the games unplayable. CGA
  • With chemistry / physics teacher we formed a computer club, sold things & bought a TRS-80. I used it to do Z-80 assemby language programming. Things I learned then have served me to this day. Not until about 10 years later did the school buy machines and have a formal computer class.

    My first year of university was the last year students were still using punched cards on a Burroughs mainframe, 1982-1983. The next year they had replaced it with a Honeywell system that had CRT terminals, and we scienc

  • In 1979, I entered an experimental new class in a Houston high school that taught BASIC programming. No Commodore PETs for us (although I saved up my McPay and bought one of my own); we could only afford a big teletype terminal and a paper tape machine so we could save our programs on spools of punched tape.

    In 1980, before I could complete that class, my family moved to a very small town in the innards of Deep East Texas where I was literally the only person in town with a computer of any kind. The studen

    • my family moved to a very small town in the innards of Deep East Texas where I was literally the only person in town with a computer of any kind.


  • Computers were unheard-of in school in the mid-70's, at least in the small town where I grew up, but I did take Typing Class where I learned what I believe is the single most valuable skill that school taught me: how to type properly.

    When I took Typing Class I was the only boy in a class of about 20-odd girls. I wanted to learn how to type because I thought it would be a useful skill but, frankly, the idea of typing on a computer never actually crossed my mind. I learned to type on a big Underwood manual

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @07:01PM (#41579521)

    .....Selectric typewriters. (Class of 1978 represent!)

    I'd tell you to get off my lawn, but it went underwater when Pangea split up.

  • Well, I'm currently 24 so it's been a couple years, but for my junior and senior year I was able to attend a magnet school part time called CART [cart.org].
    During my junior year I took the Cisco networking course, then for my senior year I took the computer science class that went over programming in Java. We didn't do anything too in depth, but it was enough to get me interested in computer science, and now I'm almost done with my bachelor's degree. At the regular school I would have been restricted to our Office co
  • I don't think computers were ever mentioned when i was at secondary school (in Britain) in the early 70s.

    My first contact with computers was at tech college in about 77, where i learnt a little bit of (i think) BASIC programming - using paper tape and a teletype, dialling in to the local university's mainframe.

  • We had a classroom full of Commodore PET 4032s, and another class with Commodore 64s. We learned programming using Waterloo Structured BASIC on the PETs and COMAL on the C64s. My last year there the school got a few ICON [wikipedia.org] computers which ran QNX and came with a bunch of programming languages, and that's when I taught myself C. I've loved C ever since.
  • Basically, I was lucky. Introduction to programming and AP computing science on IBM PCjrs with Turbo Pascal. It was great start.

  • I started Elementary school in the late eighties. I went to a university laboratory school, so we had a bit better technology than some of the surrounding schools. We had a computer lab with multiple Apple II e systems, and an Apple II GS. Each classroom had Apple II e systems as well, but not enough for the whole class. During my fifth grade year, the school purchased several Pentium I computers which were slowly deployed, starting with the lowest grades, and working their way up, much to the annoyance of

  • We were supposed to learn how to make folders and type in word.

    I learned that it was a lot of fun to delete/rename my classmates documents once they saved them. It was so fun when they panicked when all their 'work' vanished as soon as they were done with it. (0 security on the network)

  • I was in High School in the 80s, and I don't remember learning much other than typing. However, one thing I do remember learning is to be comfortable with computers so that later, in college, I soaked up every computer class I could before dropping out because I was offered a job that paid better than what I could expect upon graduation.

    I'm still in that job, and am still comfortable with computers.

  • I graduated from HS in 1971. In those ancient times, most people knew computers as big machines with lots of blinking lights that were subject to paranoia [youtube.com] and megalomania [youtube.com]. So no high-school classes in computing!

  • My school had a basic keyboarding class where they tried to get students to learn how to type, despite being a rather skilled typist. I just couldn't make myself sit down and type rows of nonsense or do daily exercises, I only ever did just enough to pass and that was it. In that class they also taught you the very basics, like this is a monitor, this is the tower etc. This was a requirement for graduation and everyone had to take it and pass.

    My school also had several elective classes, with computers an A+

  • I'm 22, from Australia.

    In school we used computers for everyday stuff: documents, presentations research, etc. But from what I can remember we were never taught anything about them at all.

  • My high schools days predated computers, but I still acquired what is perhaps the most valuable skill needed by a progammer - touch typing. Except I learned on a manual typewriter, which penalizes mistakes harshly. People with CRT displays have it easy.

  • My high school was fortunate enough to have a great math teacher that taught college level calculus. Her classroom still had a giant slide rule mounted above the blackboard (this gives you an idea of how long ago it was), but she also realized, even back then, how important computers would come to be. In the back of the classroom there sat an ASR-33 Teletype, complete with paper tape punch and reader. It connection to some mainframe at, I believe, Penn State through a 110 baud connection. I spent untold
  • In the equivalent of 9th and 10th grades, DOS, Lotus 1-2-3 and Pascal programming. In 11th grade, Pascal again and Scheme, Z80 machine language (not assembly!). In 12th grade, C++ (Object Oriented) and x86 Assembly. in 13th grade, we were set free to explore and learn extra stuff (Java in my case).
  • by edibobb ( 113989 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @07:22PM (#41579731) Homepage
    In 1974, GE loaned a Telex terminal to our small-town high school. In advanced math class I got to write Basic programs on paper tape. Made a long distance phone call to run the program on a mainframe, usually once a day. Made me quite careful about syntax errors. I was hooked -- in a few years I had a couple of CS degrees.

    Now the high school kids use tiny tablets with more storage, memory, and speed than the mainframes of the '70s. They control undersea submersible vehicles via satellite, real time, from the classroom. It's great! Can't way to see what happens in the next 20 or 40 years.
  • I graduate not more than a few years ago.

    What did I learn about computers in my entire journey from elementary to high school? Typing.

    Yeah that's the only thing was typing on a QWERTY keyboard. There was also a technology class that was just messing around with Word/Excel/Powerpoint. Everything else I learned by experience and by just using it all the time, but I'm a technologically oriented person who can tell you what ATA means or the difference between a byte and a bit, or even where the word bit came

  • I was in highschool in the late 60's, early 70's. Computers were something that IBM had. One thought of HAL, as in "2001". My oldest brother worked for DARPA - my first exposure to computers was logging on to some mainframe somewhere using his TI Silent 700 terminal (printed everything out on thermal paper), using Tenex (I'll never forget the manual, titled 'The Joy of Tenex'). Yes, a 300 bps acoustic coupler got the job done. But I could play Adventure on some computer in Stanford or San Diego, or wherever

  • Graduated HS in 1987 (Score:4, Informative)

    by slasher999 ( 513533 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @07:27PM (#41579767)

    We had TI-99/4a machines and one IBM compatible in jr high (7th-9th) with a class in BASIC on the TI machines. Once we moved over to the HS building we had access to Apple II machines and compatibles (Franklin ACE) and a couple IBM compatibles. Computer classes were limited to BASIC followed by Pascal, both taught on Apple. There was a short lived computer club that explored special topics such as vector graphic programming and Assembly - also Apple II based. Classes were taught by the math department instructors, or two of them at least. Chances are many of them had never used a computer at that time. In hindsight this set us up quite well for the immediate future and even today I use techniques and concepts I learned in those classes. It was less about the languages we were using and more about the planning and problem solving needed to accomplish a task. I apply similar techniques to problems that I use Powershell or Perl to deal with today. Truthfully most of our time in the "computer lab" was spent hacking around with computers, dot matrix printers, a couple of paddles connected to one of the Apple machines, and bootlegging games. Adventure games and the Atari catalog were the most popular. Somewhere at the bottom of a box in someone's attic is a copy of Jungle Hunt that displays my name in the copyright field. Hex editors were fun.

  • In Jr. High (81-83), I learned some BASIC programming on Apple II+'s. I had a good time with it. Happened to be a private school.

    High School (-86), I seem to remember having had a computer class, but I don't remember a damn thing about it. Did we do PASCAL? I don't remember for sure. I'm pretty sure we had PC's. We had an Apple IIe at home, and I hacked BASIC on that.

    So I learned a little bit about variables, flow control... And I guess that's about it. Unless there was PASCAL - in which case I gues

  • I went to a high school in NY that was set up as a magnet school for career education; I went for computer programming. We did most of our creative work using FORTRAN 44 on acoustic modem teletypes with paper-punch ribbons for storage. Behind the scenes there was a mainframe somewhere. We also learned about IBM punch cards and some other language (COBOL?) but we didn't do much with that (except for figuring out how to override the punch card machine so that we could punch out EVERY hole in the entire card).
  • WE were taught they are expensive tools. and because you went outside the class outline you get sent to detention. Also you are told you "DESTROYED" an altair 8800 by making the LED's do a cylon scan. The rincipal and Superintendant does not care that pressing reset will make it return to normal, you DESTROYED IT.

    I.E. Teachers are morons, School administrators are bigger morons, and I still hold these beliefs close and dear today.

  • You took one of the business classes. Then you got to learn how to be an applications jockey for Wordperfect and PFS: First Publisher. There were some simple computer literacy classes during middle school, but it was a semester of "spend 4 45 minute classes during a week listening to lectures and 1 45 minute class actually punching keys". There was a second semester elective class of "computer programming" in Apple BASIC and there were 4 people in that class.

    The heaviest use of computing in the high scho

  • We learned everything from basic PC hardware (back when computers had numbered slots, instead of named ones) to intro programming. But my high schools were much further behind. I learned to type on an electric typewriter, and at my second high school, a fine arts school, all we had was a mac lab with a dot matrix printer, where we learned to use a word processor. It wasn't until I went to college that I really learned how to use a computer (and build or repair one) and 90% of that was self taught.
  • I took a couple of classes in high school (mid-to-late-80s)... and they were pretty much on TRS-80 Model 3's and 4's. I already learned a little about BASIC since I had been using it on the Atari/C64 for about 4-5 years at that point. (I would've liked some assembly/low level stuff, but it was self-motivated when they got to a BASIC "concept" I already knew about.) What the low level snooping taught me (between bouts of playing Telengard) helped immensely when I started giving myself infinite lives in game
  • They had a mini computer at the high school that could be seen in the administrative office when they left the door open. Nobody was *taught* anything, but there were a few people that had some kind of hobby system at home.
  • My high school obtained a PDP-11 (with dual 8" floppy drives) while I was a sophomore. I was given free reign to use it as much as I wanted, with no supervision. I ended up writing assembly language and parlayed the experience into a nice job at the local university programming and building interfaces for a couple PDP-11s, then building custom S-100 graphics systems, etc.
  • As science project, a group of pupils from our school designed and build a digital rotary speedometer to measure the number of rotations in a machine designed to first clean and then coat silicon wafers for the chip production. This was in the late 1980ies and a pretty impressive hand-on to the real computer science.
    In the overall curriculum, there was not much about computers, except it was somehow expected from pupils who had a private computer at home or access to a computer at a parent's workplace to wr

    • You're very lucky to have a school that would teach that.
      I built a similar thing (a frequency counter) as an 8th grader, using the RCA CMOS data book's application notes as a guide. And my dad was an electrical engineer who taught me a bunch. But I brought the counter into my electronics class and got credit for it, although I don't think the teacher knew the first thing bout digital logic - he was a TV repair sorta teacher.
  • by Ol Biscuitbarrel ( 1859702 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @07:40PM (#41579871)

    I learned that at the most inopportune moments computers wouldn't open pod bay doors or cancel self-destruct sequences.

  • Cobol and Fortran. This after programming assembly since I had been 12. Also in my highschool in 1988 Computer programming was considered a "Shop" class categorized with car repair and typing.
  • For me, computer classes in high school started out with the history of computing, starting back in the 19th century with the use of punched cards to control looms and working forward through the era of IBM mainframes and into the first PCs. Then introductory programming in BASIC, COBOL and FORTRAN, and classes that concentrated more on the theory of data structures and algorithms using Pascal (which was much more suited to the job than the other 3 major languages). Included were side-trips into the princip

  • I graduated in 1982, that was the year they replaced the time share terminals with Commodore Pets. The year prior we spent learning FORTRAN, we were now able to move into the brave new world of BASIC. One fun thing about the time share terminals, they used acoustic couplers and dial up, if you stood in the corner of the room and whistled the correct note, you could disconnect all the terminals in the room simultaneously. Of course, you then had to run for your life...

  • There was no mention of computers in any class.

    Just one data point.

  • One of the math teachers decided he wanted to teach a computer science class. He arranged a DecWriter with a connection to the Vax at the University. The next year the school bought Apple IIs with CPM cards. I learned several programming languages, logic, algorithms, compilers....you name it. Because of that one high school teacher I have a very successful tech career. Between what I learned in that class and what I learned on my own, college was a complete snooze.

  • I went through primary school in the early-to-mid nineties, and here's what I learned back then:

    - Touch typing
    - Programming (with Logowriter)
    - Word processing (with Microsoft Creative Writer)
    - Spreadsheets (can't even remember what the program was called)

    I remember that the teachers back then specifically pointed out that they weren't going to teach us Word or Excel, because the concepts were the same regardless of whatever actual word processor or spreadsheet package we ended up using in the future. I real

  • As a Freshman in 1995, I was taught that I was a faggot and a nerd for being into computers, BBS's, technology in general.... (The sentiment of my peers, permitted by my teachers. One teacher even enjoyed chiming in, but I was too strong to care or even report anyone.)

    As a Senior in 1999, I was taught that everyone wished they could know as much as me about computers, and that the ability to type and print a book report was way easier and looked better, garnering higher grades with lower effort. The same

  • by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:02PM (#41580039) Homepage

    I was in high school from 1979-1983. My junior or senior year I took a couple of elective computer classes offered for advanced high school students through the junior college downtown. We mostly learned BASIC, which we ran on the motley assortment of equipment the instructor could get his hands on: a TRS-80 Model 1, an Apple ][ plus, and a couple of dumb terminals that logged into the college's DEC PDP via acoustic-coupled modems. Since we didn't have enough terminals/computers for each student, we wrote out our programs on notebook paper and took turns typing them in, then printing them for the teacher to look over and grade. We did a project with punch cards (I think it might have been a Fortran program), mostly because the equipment was available, and some shops still used them. It wasn't until I saved up my money to buy an Atari 400, and then went to college to study Computer Science that I had regular access to a computer. So I was a member of the last generation to first learn to use computers as an "adult" (or near enough).

  • I graduated from an unusually good and small public HS in New Jersey in 2009. I took APCS A and AB (the last year AB existed) in my sophomore and junior years, so we did fundamentals of programming (in Java), algorithms, polymorphism, inheritance. In APCS AB, we did data structures (trees, heaps, linked lists, hash and tree sets/maps), big-O notation and basic complexity analysis. After I exhausted the AP stuff, my school let me do an advanced independent-study type thing for credit, where I pretty much mad

  • The tech curriculum at my high school (Northcote College, in Auckland, New Zealand) is rather advanced compared to some others I've seen. First years get a half-year compulsory course, which covers some aspects of Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash, as well as the good old Microsoft Office skillset. From second year onwards, it's all optional.

    Second-year course (which is a full-year course) covers the same stuff as first-year, but more web stuff using Dreamweaver, basic CSS, more Photoshop, less Flash.

  • In middle school we had mandatory typing instruction - on C64's. I was bored out of my mind during the tedious typing drills that I finished in well under half the allotted time, so I eventually found that I could escape out of the program to the C64 prompt (and get back in if I wanted to) and do BASIC programming. I learned a little BASIC that way - really, just enough to annoy the teacher who would reboot my C64 when the class would break for lunch. That didn't matter since the remaining half hour afte
  • That was on Apple //cs and (a few) //es, using IIRC Bank Street Writer and some dedicated wpm-counting program. I ended up with 40-50 WPM, I think. This was in late 1992 to early '93.

    In high school it was 68030-powered Mac Performas running System 7. I think we were taught "office" type tasks and a bit about doing research on the Internet, using Netscape 2.x (or maybe 1.x) over the school's T1 line, which was dog slow on account of being shared. Later on I took an elective for Lotus 1-2-3 and Internet (

  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Sunday October 07, 2012 @08:12PM (#41580113)

    I graduated in 1975 when dinosaurs and the Bee Gees roamed the earth. School was boring, so I read science fiction in study hall - about one paperback every day or so. I read the hilariously dated "When Harlie was One" by David Gerrold in 1973, which is where I first learned what a computer virus was. I used to try and discuss them with fellow students and professors all the way until the 80s, but nobody knew what the fuck I was talking about. The few that could grasp the concept didn't believe it ("Why would anyone do THAT?"). Worse, the girls were thoroughly unimpressed. While the latter is still true, I sound a lot smarter these days.

  • My teacher knew as much about being cool as I did though: So in computer class, he let me write my own code while the rest of the class did the standard projects. The best thing I did in computer class was write a random sentence maker. Everyone loved that. Also, you'd be surprised how much abuse 5 1/2" floppies can take before they don't work. We punched holes in them, scratched them. What finally had them completely stop though was when we stapled them. :P I predicted that one was gonna kill it.
  • I went to highschool in New York in the mid-80s. We had about 30 Apple IIes in the lab. The school had an introductory course and an advanced course. We programmed in Applesoft BASIC entirely for both classes and assistance from PLE [textfiles.com], a memory-resident program editing aid.

    Programs we wrote in the advanced class:

    • Parse first names from a list of full names given in inline data statements
    • Read numbers and text from binary files
    • Draw a border around the low-res graphics screen with an animated a pixel moving insid
  • For me high school had two computer classes, one called ISI which stood for Initiation au Sciences Informatiques, (Comp Sci intro), which as far as I can remember consisted of learning DOS on XTs and LOGO. The other computer class was the informal group of kids with the same computers that traded pirated software and magazines. Mags and pirate intro scrolls where the internet and social media of the day, except that the social makeup was hackers and pirates and geeks. It was fun. I was the hardware guy of t
  • by alanw ( 1822 ) <alan@wylie.me.uk> on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:34AM (#41581699) Homepage

    In about 1973 the local education authority for my school bought a HP 9830A [hpmuseum.org]. It's less of a computer, more of a jumped up calculator, but was programmable in Basic. We had it for half a term, then it went on to the next school. A year or so later, we got it permanently. None of the teachers knew what to do with it, but I latched on to it, and it being a boarding school I was able to play with it in the evenings. I taught myself from the manual, and wrote a noughts and crosses program. Other pupils joined me, and we ended up writing a program to analyse the alignment of stone circles in Cumbria and compare the number of ley lines [wikipedia.org] that could be drawn through them with randomly generated positions. We went on to enter and do well in both a Computer Weekly "Win a Computer" competition and the BBC "Young Scientists of the Year".

  • by eagee ( 1308589 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @01:50AM (#41581765)
    Our highschool here runs the small schools program, and my son is enrolled in the liberal arts school. It's his freshman year, and IMO our tech curriculum is pretty kick-ass. Not only did he cover the basics of computers, technology, and programming in middle school already - but for the next four years he's able to take game development classes focusing on Unity. Way, way better than what we were rocking in the PC Jr. days when my gym teacher and my computer teacher had about the same technical skill set.
  • by KagakuNinja ( 236659 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @02:26AM (#41581895)

    I am 49; my family moved to Palo Alto in 1972, while in 4th grade. They took us to a room with teletypes (hooked up to a HP 2000 computer) and let us play games on them (Hunt the Wumpus, Hammurabi, etc). In the 5th grade they taught us BASIC in math class (this was back in the days of "new math", which I had no problems with, and am quite thankful for). About this time, I discovered my father was a computer programmer, and decided that was what I was going to do ("You mean they pay people to do this?"). He made some not entirely successful efforts to teach me assembly and COBOL.

    In 7th grade honors math class, we learned Minitran (a FORTRAN dialect), from which I learned that programming on punch cards sucked (you submit the program, a week later you get the result back, which usually contained a syntax error). Another student taught a class to his fellow nerds on assembly programming; we had some kind of special nerd room at our middle school which was supervised by Joan Targ (sister of Bobby Fischer, and wife of the infamous SRI psychic researcher Russell Targ; the SRI "ESP testing machine" developed at great cost, and described in The Amazing Randi's book on Uri Geller, was in this room and we played around with it all the time. There was also an unused old analog computer, to which we would randomly plug in banana cables). Jonesing for more computer time, I would hang out at my dads office when I visited him, and also at a local computer store.

    By my freshman year in high school (1976), we got access to the school district HP 3000 computer; however the computer lab was closed all year because the current crop of nerds had hacked the machine so badly, they decided to wait for them all to graduate before letting students back on the machine. In my sophomore year they lets us into the computer lab, now outfitted with VDTs and 1200 baud modems (speedy!). I took the only computer programming course, taught by some math teacher, and already knew more than he did so I dropped that. Maybe the year after that, I was put in some kind of program where I went to various places after school (different Stanford labs, once at Xerox Parc) and someone would say "OK kid, why don't you write a program that does this..." and I was exposed to C, assembly, PL/Z, APL and Logo. Back at school, I made an attempt to learn SPL3000, which was hampered by a lack of manuals, or any documentation, so I looked at hex dumps of a library binary to try and figure out how to make function calls. Later we got some early personal computers, I think they were Northstars.

  • by kav2k ( 1545689 ) on Monday October 08, 2012 @03:25AM (#41582113)

    I'm 25 years old. Back when I was in school, it was customary to brain-damage children with BASIC (or VB).. At my first school it once got to a point of teacher giving a task, me telling him "you know I can do that" and just playing, since by then I knew it well enough just from personal experiments. It was not very educative.

    Then I got into a math school, and the teacher there, who is also teaching at math department of the Moscow State University, had a different idea, and I am very grateful for that. He taught us Perl and TeX, something that still helps me a lot.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.