Computers

Mobilizing Minds: Teaching Math and Science in the Age of Sputnik

Computers

Mathematics Lesson on the IBM 1500 Instructional System, 1966

In the 1950s and 1960s, computers were large and expensive. They were mostly used by adults at work. Only few special machines were built for teaching. Work done at Stanford University with U.S. government funds served as a prototype for this IBM 1500 instructional system.

The system was used in both schools and museums. It included a display, light pen, and keyboard for each student; a central processing unit; and a central control unit. There also were parts for projecting film and other images, providing sound, punching and reading cards, storing data, and printing. An installation with only one student station cost well over $600,000. IBM installed the machine in over 30 locations in the United States and abroad, but it was never widely used.