Computer software, as we know it today, was first used in the early 1940s. Built in 1943, the Type 19 Synthetic Radar Trainer was a flight simulator manufactured to mimic on-board instrument data for pilots in training. This program would lay the basis for educational curriculum across the United States. The Type 19 was not only the introduction of applicable computer software, it was the precursor to the educational uses of computer programs and software worldwide.
The first educational curriculum fashioned for schools was the product of a joint collaboration between IBM and Stanford University. Although nominal programming languages, like BASIC and LOGO, were being taught to doctoral level students as early as 1963, the 1967 release of IBM’s project was a failure. Its prohibitive cost of $10,000 was insurmountable for the school districts of the time.
The personal computer made its debut in 1975 with the launching of the Altair 8800. This computer changed the opinion of educational software entirely by making the dream of computing without a massive mainframe a reality. The introduction of a computer costing approximately $2000, meant schools districts could begin to incorporate computers and educational software into select schools. The subsequent release of the Commodore PET and the Apple II further fueled the demand for computer-based education in schools.
During the 1980s and early 1990s, the majority of educational software programs were developed for the Apple II platform. The inclusion of superior graphics and sound quality, however, spurred a phenomenal demand for fun and appealing learning games. Additionally, the ascendance of the Internet in the mid 1990s opened the market to a larger amount of learning program manufacturers. Whether you owned a PC or a Macintosh, it was easy to be bewildered by the sheer volume of available educational games.