was originally an abandoned school building where old desks were
crammed together. Engineers worked in shower stalls; the water
was turned off; the electricity was piped in. It was small and
FUN, so exciting. We knew we were doing something completely new."
--Wayne Studer, designer Oregon Trail II
funded by the State of Minnesota, MECC, the Minnesota Educational
Computing Consortium, was created on July 1, 1973. The state of
Minnesota had the foresight to create an organization that would
help schools on a statewide basis to plan for the use of computers.
At the time, Minnesota was a significant center for computing--Honeywell,
Control, Univac and IBM had installations in the state. MECC was
designed to develop educational computing programs for Minnesota
school students, but also to join joint practices between K-12
an higher education.
MECC ran a large, centralized timeshare that schools across the
state could call into via telephone network, funded by state.
MECC created a central library of resources--it created the first
computer program documentation so that teachers could get the
background information for the program and the learning objectives.
of the library was to give rural schools access to the technology--the
library served thousands of teletype terminals across the state.
MECC has had
the most significant impact on the history of educational computing.
Three of its decisions, which have ultimately influenced the development
of the industry are:
such as The Oregon Trail were so widespread that MECC began
to sell its software across the country at profit and used the
money to fund the educational effort in Minnesota. In the mid-1980s,
MECC and the zoo were the only organizations owed by the state,
but self-preserving (not funded by the state). In the late 1980's,
MECC became the Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation--it
was sold to a North American venture capitalist, for $5 million.
Within a year, it was sold again to The Learning Company--for
$250 million. The MECC offices in Minnesota were recently closed
in January 1999.