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IEEE Annals of the History of Computing | 09.01.16

Meaning and Persuasion: The Personal Computer and Economic Education

Caroline Jack

D&S post-doctoral scholar Caroline Jack analyzes the history of how businesses donated personal computers to classrooms as a way to engage students.

In late 1982, the corporate-funded business education nonprofit Junior Achievement (JA) distributed 121 donated personal computers to classrooms across the United States as part of its new high school course, Applied Economics. Studying JA’s use of computers in Applied Economics reveals how a corporate-sponsored nonprofit group used personal computers to engage students, adapt its traditional outreach methods to the classroom, and bolster an appreciation of private enterprise in American economic life. Mapping the history of how business advocacy and education groups came to adopt software as a means of representing work and commerce offers a new perspective on how systems of cultural meaning have been attached to, and expressed through, computers and computing.

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