Classic Computer Magazine Archive ATARI CLASSICS Volume 2, Issue 5 / October 1993 / PAGE 16



Sunnyvale Loses To Apple
    Atari blew it when they discontinued the 8-bit. Undoubtedly this observation comes as no big surprise to the subscribers of Atari Classics. But I'd like to make it from the vantage point of a veteran educator who daily witnesses the effectiveness of the Atari 8-bit in the classroom.
    Years ago the forward-thinking and well capitalized Apple folks gave each school in California one (1) computer. Teachers, pupils, and particularly administrators got used to the Apple IIe. So today Apples abound in instruction. Things needn't have ended up this way if Atari had targeted the educational market. Consider my experience using these wonderful 8-bits as teaching tools.

Kids And The Classic
    My 32 upper-graders have access to four 1200XLs. The units are connected to 1025 printers, 1050 disk drives, and 1010 recorders. We also have an 800XL hooked up to an Okimate 10 for color printing with Blazing Paddles. This last machine is patched into the classroom big screen for use in directed instruction and educational games. Of great value in the game mode are the Concentration-like Match-Wits and Missing-Links, which can be tailored to the curriculum.
    But it is in word-processing that the Atari 8-bit is unbeatable. Kids love AtariWriter. Rather than being distressed at the absence of 80-columns, they enjoy scrolling around on the 40-column Print Preview screen. Other features they obviously appreciate are the automatic caps key and the ease with which blocks of copy are moved.
    The big push in the language arts curriculum these day is "keyboarding". All of our fifth-graders are expected to test at about 16 words-per-minute at the end of the year. Most do considerably better than that, thanks to Typo Attack, Kids On Keys, and Mastertype.
    And these computers talk to the kids! A year's spelling program has been recorded on the Atari 1010 recorders, and the kids can brush up on their spelling by listening to the list words used in sentences tailored for their classroom. Try that on an Apple!

Closing Comments
    These units could have been manufactured and sold profitably by Atari for elementary classrooms all across the nation. Certainly they would not have proved to be as fast or as powerful as the 16-bit STs, but neither would they have been so complicated to use in the upper-elementary environment. Children can readily master the Atari 8-bit and then move on to putting the machine to use. And that's what using a computer is all about at any level of instruction.
    The Author: John C. LaMonte, a classroom teacher in Glendale, California for over 20 years, is a member of The Educators'Association of Computer Hackers (TEACH), a predominantly Atari-based club operating out of Laytonville, California.