is the name for a philosophy of
education and a continually evolving family of programming languages
that aid in its realization."
- - Harold
sums up two fundamental aspects of Logo
and puts them in the proper order. The Logo programming environments
that have been developed over the past 28 years are rooted in
constructivist educational philosophy, and are designed to support
views knowledge as being created by
learners in their own minds through interaction with other people and
the world around them. This theory is most closely associated with Jean
Piaget, the Swiss psychologist, who spent decades studying and
documenting the learning processes of young children.
In the Beginning
In the mid 1960s
Seymour Papert, a mathematician who
had been working with Piaget in Geneva, came to the United States where
he co-founded the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory with Marvin
Minsky. Papert worked with the team from Bolt, Beranek and Newman, led
by Wallace Feurzeig, that created the first version of Logo in 1967.
1970s Logo was incubating at MIT and a
few other research sites: Edinburgh, Scotland and Tasmania, Australia.
There were small research activities conducted in local schools,
including the Brookline Public Schools, just up the Charles River
from MIT. Dan Watt, Cynthia Solomon, and other MIT researchers
documented their work with a small number of elementary school
students using Logo. Their reports are among the several dozen Logo
published by MIT during this period.
The Logo Programming Language,
a dialect of Lisp, was designed as a tool for learning. Its features -
modularity, extensibility, interactivity, and flexibility -follow from
For most people,
learning Logo is not an end in itself,
and programming is always about something. Logo programming activities
are in mathematics, language, music, robotics, telecommunications, and
science. It is used to develop simulations, and to create multimedia
presentations. Logo is designed to have a "low threshold and no
ceiling": It is accessible to novices, including young children, and
also supports complex explorations and sophisticated projects by
The most popular
Logo environments have involved the Turtle,
originally a robotic creature that sat
on the floor and could be directed to move around by typing commands at
the computer. Soon the Turtle migrated to the computer graphics screen
where it is used to draw shapes, designs, and pictures.
Some turtle species
can change shape to be birds, cars,
planes, or whatever the designer chooses to make them. In Logo
environments with many such turtles, or "sprites" as they are sometimes
called, elaborate animations and games are created.
Out Into the World
Widespread use of
Logo began with the advent of
personal computers during the late 1970s. The MIT Logo Group developed
versions of Logo for two machines: The Apple II and the Texas
Instruments TI 99/4. The Logo language itself was similar in both
versions, but the video game hardware of the TI 99/4 lent itself to
action-oriented projects, while the Apple version was best suited to
turtle graphics, and language projects.
In 1980 a pilot
project sponsored by MIT and Texas
Instruments was begun at the Lamplighter School in Dallas, Texas with
50 computers and a student population of 450. At the same time the
Computers in Schools Project was initiated by the New York Academy of
Sciences and Community School Districts 2, 3 and 9 in New York City,
and supported by Texas Instruments and MIT. Twelve TI 99/4 computers
were placed in six New York City Public Schools. These were later
joined by a few Apple IIs.
offered teachers extensive training and
support through intensive two-week Summer
Institutes and follow-up
workshops during the school year.
These projects have had lasting results.
Theresa Overall, who was a leader in both the Dallas and New York
workshops, continued to teach Logo at Lamplighter and to offer summer
workshops. Michael Tempel, then of the New York Academy of Sciences is
now President of the Logo Foundation,
a nonprofit organization that provides Logo professional development and
support services to schools and districts throughout the world,
including New York City Community School District 3. Two of the
teachers who represented that district in the original project, Peter
Rentof and Steve Siegelbaum, went on to form the Computer School, one
of the District's alternative middle schools where Logo is still in
The prototype Logo
implementations used in those
pioneering projects evolved into commercial products. TILOGO was
released by Texas Instruments. Terrapin
, a company that was set up
in 1977 to distribute robot floor Turtles, licensed the Apple II version
of MIT Logo and has marketed it and upgraded it to
A new company, Logo
Computer Systems, Inc. (LCSI) was formed in 1980. Many of the researchers,
teachers, programmers, and writers who were involved in this venture
have played major roles in the subsequent development of Logo.
Seymour Papert is LCSI's chairman. Brian Silverman was Director
of Research and guided the development of all of
LCSI's products. Cynthia Solomon, who was on the team
that created the original Logo in 1967, headed up LCSI's first
development office in Boston and later directed the Atari Cambridge
Research Center. Michael Tempel provided educational support services from LCSI's New York
City office for ten years until he started the Logo Foundation
Apple Logo, followed by versions for a
host of other computers. With commercial availability, Logo use spread
event occurred in 1980 - the
publication of Seymour Papert's Mindstorms
Teachers throughout the world became excited by the intellectual and
creative potential of Logo. Their enthusiasm fueled the Logo boom of
the early 1980s.
New versions of
Logo were implemented in more than a
dozen spoken languages on a variety of machines, many with video game
style graphics and sound capabilities. Logo for MSX computers was
popular in Europe, South America, and Japan. Atari Logo and Commodore
Logo were popular in North America.
considerable support from mainstream
computer manufacturers. Apple Computer marketed LCSI's Apple Logo and,
at one point, bundled it with the computers given away to each school
in California. IBM marketed LCSI's IBM Logo and Logo Learner.
Atari not only distributed Atari Logo, but
set up the ambitious Atari Cambridge Research Center under the
direction of Cynthia Solomon
By the mid 1980's
the computers with video game
capabilities had dropped off the market and taken their versions of
Logo with them. MSDOS machines increasingly dominated the world of
educational computing, except in the United States where Apple was the
school favorite. Logo developers concentrated on these machines.
Although new implementations added features and took advantage of the
increased speed and memory of newer computers, the most popular
versions of Logo in use in 1985 were similar to those of 1980.
Around this time
there was also some interest in using
Logo as a "serious" programming language, especially for the new
Macintosh computer. MacLogo from LCSI added new functionality to the
Logo environment. Coral Software, developed an object-oriented version
of Logo called Object Logo. It included a compiler which allowed
programs to run at higher speed, and stand-alone applications could be
created. But Logo did not become popular among applications
In 1985 Logo
Computer Systems, Inc.
introduced LogoWriter, which was novel in
several ways. First, it included word processing capability - hence the
name. Second, the user interface was simplified and made more
intuitive. LogoWriter also included, as the earlier "sprite" Logos had,
multiple turtles that could take on different shapes, although in this
area the Apple and IBM computers on which LogoWriter ran were no match
for the earlier game machines. LogoWriter was implemented in many
spoken languages and became popular throughout the world.
of the mid-eighties was LEGO Logo.
Resnick and Steve Ocko, working
at the MIT Media Lab, developed a
system which interfaced Logo with motors, lights and sensors that were
incorporated into machines built out of LEGO bricks and other elements.
Robotics systems with Logo were not new, but the popular and
well-supported LEGO TC Logo was a commercial success which reached
thousands of teachers and their students.
It was around this
time that a unique series of Logo
conferences took place at MIT. Beginning with LOGO '84 and continuing
for two more years with LOGO '85 and LOGO '86, these meetings brought a
worldwide community together at Logo's unofficial home.
In 1988 the Programa
was initiated in Costa Rica by
the Omar Dengo Foundation, the Ministry of Public Education, and IBM Latin America. This
project put Logo in the hands of most of Costa Rica's elementary school students
and their teachers. A similar project was initiated in Costa Rica's
The Costa Rican projects have provided
extensive teacher education and support with a strong emphasis on
Logo's contructionist educational approach. They have been
taken as models for similar
endeavors in a dozen other Latin American countries. Through the
1990s Latin American Logo enthusiasts came together every two years
in a different country for the Congreso Logo.
Logo saw growing acceptance in
the country's schools where the original LogoWriter, then the
enhanced LogoWriter2, and then LogoWriter Win were the most popular versions.
In England, Logo was
a mandated part of the national
curriculum. This guaranteed that Logo was widely, if not necessarily
well used. England is also the birthplace of the extinct Valiant Turtle
and the still extant Roamer.
There are Logo hot spots throughout Europe
where there is a biennial EuroLogo conference. Now renamed, this
conference will next be held in Athens, Greece as Constructionism 2012. European Logo software developments have included WinLogo in Spain and Comenius Logo from Slovakia.
New Developments during the 1990s
A new version of Logo called MicroWorlds
was released in 1993 by LCSI. It
embodied major changes both in the Logo environment and the Logo
language. It included many
extra-Logo features - drawing tools, a
shape editor, a melody maker, the ability to import graphics and sounds
- that work along with Logo to support the creation of
multimedia projects, games, and simulations. Microworlds has been upgraded several
times and is available today as MicroWorlds EX.
MicroWorlds Logo includes a number
of changes, the most significant being multi-tasking, or parallel
processing. Several processes can be launched independently. This is invaluable when creating animations with
more than one actor - the car can drive off a cliff while the
dog wags its tail while the fat lady sings. This sort of thing
is possible in a non-parallel Logo environment but it is
far easier and more natural in MicroWorlds.
and Control System were LEGO Logo products whose multi-tasking software was
built on the same core as MicroWorlds.
Another LEGO Logo
innovation was the Programmable
Brick , a research project at
MIT spearheaded by
Fred Martin . Unlike
earlier LEGO Logo products where the robot received instructions
through wires connected to a computer, the Programmable Brick had a
computer inside. A program written on a
desktop or laptop computer could be downloaded to the
Brick, which could then be detached from the host
computer and run its program autonomously.
LEGO commercialized the programmable brick
as the RCX and later the NXT in products called LEGO Mindstorms.
Smaller versions of the Programmable Brick, called crickets, where
also developed commercially as the Handy
Cricket and PICO Cricket
As part of the Programmable Brick project
at the MIT Media Lab a new version of Logo called Logo Blocks was created. Instead of writing
lines of code in text, programs were built by snapping together
A radically different Logo called StarLogo
was introduced in 1994. It is a
massively parallel version that was developed by Mitchel
Resnick at MIT. Thousands of turtles can carry on independent
processes and interact with each other and with patches of
background. The system is specifically designed to facilitate the
exploration of decentralized systems, emergent phenomena, and self organizing behavior. Resnick'sTurtles, Termites,
and Traffic Jams
source book on StarLogo and the ideas underlying
A similar program called NetLogo was
developed by Uri Wilensky, who now heads the Center for
The 21st Century
In 2004 a new Logo programming
enviroment called Scratch emerged
from the Lifelong
Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It uses the blocks
programming paradigm that was originally implemented as Logo
Blocks. Scratch is well suited to desinging and building
interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art. It can gather
information from the outside world via a sensor board connected to the computer. The Scratch Web site
provides the focal point for a community of over a million users who
have shared more than two million projects.
Following from the popularilty of Scratch,
blocks programming has become widespread and is used in a number of
other Logo applications including Turtle Art, Scratch for Arduino, Build Your Own
Blocks, and StarLogo
Meanwhile, traditional versions of Logo
continue to be used.Brian
Harvey, author of the
three-volume classic Computer
a public domain version for Macintosh, MSDOS, and Unix.George
Mills used the core of
UCBLogo as the
basis for his MSWLogo which runs under
Windows with many enhancements that are possible in that operating
is a more recent version
based on MSWLogo.
After more than
four decades of growth, Logo has undergone dramatic changes in step
with the rapid pace of development in computer technology. The family
of Logo environments is more divers than ever before.
Pavel Boytchev, who created Elica, has compiled the
lists all the versions of Logo, past and current, that he has
information about. There are more than 250 of them.
is a growing family of programming
languages and a learning environments, and a worldwide community of people drawn together
by a shared commitment to a constructivist educational philosophy.
To find out more
about Logo you can continue to wander
around this web site and check out the links to other sites.