[SIGCIS-Members] First instructional videos for Macintosh?

McMillan, William W william.mcmillan at cuaa.edu
Wed Sep 10 05:53:48 PDT 2014

Mike, you mention programming as one productive use of early personal computers, but programming was also one of the principal recreational and educational uses.  The Apple II manuals included an intro to Basic programming and newbies would dive in and learn to program.  There was an implication that you could program up a bunch of useful applications for yourself, but that required more in terms of time and technical knowledge than most users had.  It was a thrill, though, to learn to do some calculation, "poke" memory locations, make a few sounds, and get some shapes to show up on the screen.

Early definitions of computer literacy, including, I believe, one from ACM's SIGUCCS, included programming skills as fundamental.

For many or most, to use a computer was to program.  In the lab where I was a grad student, the prof brought in an Apple IIe and all the students working for him were expected to learn Basic and start developing data analysis programs (even though they had no background in computing).  We didn't even have a text editor for data files, so I wrote a simple line-oriented one in Basic.  Though this is in the "productive" category, it paralleled the typical trajectory of the huge numbers of recreational and hobby users.  Mags like Dr. Dobb's Journal were mainly about the techniques and joys of programming, useful or not.

Alas, the cultural positioning of "coding" has evolved toward the extremes of uncool!


From: members-bounces at sigcis.org [members-bounces at sigcis.org] on behalf of Michael Newman [mznewman37 at gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2014 11:37 AM
To: Luisa Emmi Beck
Cc: members at sigcis.org
Subject: Re: [SIGCIS-Members] First instructional videos for Macintosh?

Hi Luisa, in my research on home computers from the 1970s I haven't found that the idea of personal computing was always represented as something new and incredible. Computers were familiar to people (many of whom had a negative impression of them as instruments of institutional control) and it wasn't clear what needs a home computer would satisfy. One persistent question in articles about home computers in magazines like Esquire was: what are you actually going to do with it? A frequent answer was that you would use a computer to learn how to use a computer. Probably the most common use for many people who bought a computer for the home was playing games, which wasn't so different from using something like an Atari VCS. In advertisements for home computers on TV, you will find some of that "new and incredible" tone -- they're selling a product, after all, though what they're selling is as much a platform for games as it is a computer for programming or other more "productive" uses. The "Atari brings the computer age home" campaign would offer some nice examples of this, and some (in poor quality) are on YouTube.

michael z. newman zigzigger<http://zigzigger.blogspot.com/> | @mznewman<http://twitter.com/mznewman>
assoc prof, journalism, advertising, & media studies, uw-milwaukee

On Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 10:28 PM, Luisa Emmi Beck <emmi.beck at gmail.com<mailto:emmi.beck at gmail.com>> wrote:
Hi SIGCIS members,

I'm working on a radio story about the history of personal computing.

I would like to find instructional videos for the first Macintosh or other personal computers. The goal is to give listeners a sense for how new and incredible the idea of personal computing was in the 1970s. ​Does anyone on this list know of where I could find such videos? I haven't been able to find anything on YouTube but I'm hoping to be able to track down a few instructional videos (or at least the audio portion of the videos).


(510) 856.7475<tel:%28510%29%20856.7475>

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