by John Sculley
WHEN SEYMOUR PAPERT was writing the first edition of Mindstorms back in the late 1970s, Apple Computer had just introduced the Apple II. It had 4k of standard memory, and customers used their own TV sets as monitors. At that time, there were 200,000 personal computers in the world, and if people wanted to use them, most had to go through some kind of basic -- and usually painstaking -- instruction.
Today, over 200,000 personal computers are manufactured in a single week. More important, personal computers play a central role in our lives and have become indispensable in the educational environment. Although the pace and magnitude of change in the industry since 1980 have been nothing short of revolutionary, Seymour Papert's insights and observations about children, computers, and computer cultures remain timeless. In fact, in the current climate of massive educational restructuring, Papert's message is more relevant than ever.
During the Industrial Age and for most of this century, America stood alone at the top of an economic pyramid, taking resources out of the ground -- oil, wheat, and coal -- adding its manufacturing know-how to those resources, and selling those goods to the rest of the world. We are no longer in the Industrial Age. We are in an Information Economy where strategic advantage is