My blog post on my history with computer and video gaming (found here) sparked some great conversations with my friends and colleagues on their own journeys and experiences in this realm. These interactions reminded me of a couple of key moments and products that I forgot to mention.
One key system I neglected to mention was the Commodore 64. At about the same time that I was using the TRS-80 Color Computer at home (roughly the 4th or 5th grade), I asked my mom to enroll me in the Saturday Enrichment Program. This program was designed for kids who were not being challenged enough in their regular school programs, and allowed them to go to certain Public Schools in Brooklyn (probably all of New York City) on Saturdays for additional coursework. I chose to take the computer classes at a Public School on Avenue L and Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. Every Saturday for several months (I can’t recall if it was only in the summer or during the academic year) I would either walk to the school with my mom or my dad would drop me off and pick me up later. And in that program we exclusively used the Commodore 64. I recall enjoying the enrichment program a great deal, but I can’t say that I developed a strong affinity for the 64, probably because I only used it once a week for several months. I would still go home to my trusty TRS-80 Color Computer and hone my skills on that machine.
However, in the 6th grade, I did develop a great affinity for a new computer system procured by Ms. Kofsky at P.S. 195 – the Apple IIe. Since she remembered my affinity for computers when I was in her class two years prior, she invited me to come back to the classroom (she was still a 4th grade teacher) to learn more on the Apple IIe and to show the younger children (4th graders) how to use it. I was astounded by the graphics of this compared to the Commodore 64 and my TRS-80. I became completely hooked on the only title I recall them having… “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego”, which came complete with The World Almanac and a Book of Facts which one would use to deduce the whereabouts of the titular character. I spent all of my free time on that computer. If it weren’t for the debacle with the Apple IIgs that my parents purchased, I probably would have had a much greater and more positive affinity for Apple products. Instead, I think the Carmen Sandiego game planted the travel bug in me at a very early age, although I didn’t get to truly explore that until my mid 20’s when I moved to Germany. *sigh*