And he's the founder of 18 companies, like Snap Schools, a re-invisioned education system.
I didn't invent the video game. A guy named Willy Higgenbotham, in 1958, did a unit that looked like this. It was a ping pong game on an oscilloscope, using resistors, capacitors and relays. In 1961, the guy right down the lbock named Steve Russell, programmed the PDP1 to do a game called Space Wars. That was shipped with every PDP1. As an undergrad, I played this game and was mesmorized by it.
It so happened that, at the time, the University of Utah had Dr. Evans, he was one of the early computer graphics guys. There was four places in the world in the 1960s where you could see a computer next to a graphics screen. Basically, he brought an awful lot of graphics stuff to it. This is a PDP1. Big computer display. I was working in amusement parks over the summers. Knock-down milk bottles. I'm a carnie. What it did, I became manager of the department, I knew the economics of the coin-operated video game business. If I had this game at the university, in the amusement park arcade, people would play it. Million dollar computer, 25 cents a throw, that's probably not going to work. I decided that the tech is right, and I started working on it.
What I want to say is that, I didn't plan to work in an amusement park, with my engineering degree- boom, video games. I licensed my first game to the company that did this. Computer Quiz. It was a slide show, there was no computer. This was Computer Space (1970). I molded the design on my kitchen table out of modeling clay, and we blew it up in a fiber glass thing. The girl in the langerie, she was actually a topless dancer in a local bar. That's another story. This was the founding team. The guy with the beard did the work for pong. Fred, the other guy was the accountant, got fired. Ted was my partner. We ran the manufacturing.
There were two innovations there. One was pong, the other was the polkadot shirt. The polkadit shirt did not catch on. Magnavox came on, did a consumer game, nobody liked it. We did pong, everyone liked it. We did the VCS. We did a whole bunch of other games. And then I did Chuck E. Cheese's, all kids love it, parents hate it. I sold that when we were at 250 restaurants, then I did a robotics company (Androbot). I did a few demos, a bunch of orders, I couldn't make stuff work. The problem is the robots. In the computer world, if you crash, it's a blue screen of death. If you have a robot, and it's running across the floor, and the computer crashes, you have an uncontrolled 50 pound missile. We called the Mo the Baby Mower. I did then ETak, the first automobile navigation company. I sold that to Rupert Murdock, and we wrote this business plan in the middle of the ocean. I did ByVideo, it was a shopping system with Kiosks. We were a little too early. Microwave company. uWink. Toy company. Customer-facing terminals at uWink / restaurant. Martini on your table in under 3min of sitting. And then you can play games in groups or with the whole restaurant.
I have ADD. I have to sell a company, and then I have to start something new, or else I get bored. I decided what's needed is a new look at education. Let me tell you some things about education. In the landscape of education, computer education is an unmitigated disaster. Why? It turns out, if you put even normal classroom, if you try to put 35 students on 35 computesr, all the teacher can do is do sysop, and get behind. Business computers are horrible, in the environment of school. The problem is that they are too fragile. They can be stolen, I can't tell you the number of times I've gone into a computer lab, and half the computers are down, someone stole the memory, or you pick up the mouse, and we've had to glue in the bottom because people keep stealing the mouse balls. To fix things, I decided to re-invision it.
Classrooms are obsoletes, creativity can be taught, video games show the way, exercise/learning are linked. This sounds like a hodgepodge. How do you fix schools? You do it by coin-op tech. Coin-operated games have a couple of characteristics. They have to be built so that they cannot be destroyed by human hands. A kid who can shut down a network by putting a pin through a network cable, it's not a bad kid, he's just 14, and yeah that's a cool thing to do. You should make it impossible to shut down the network. A lot of that is tech. The most important thing is that you have to take off the doors to the lab. The software and hardware has to be a walled garden.
We can basically have, put an arcade together, in the middle of hte meanest streets of any central city in the world, I've been treating creativity to students for years. There's pretty simple things to do to deal with that. ADD and ADHD, and what you have to understand is that school almost works. That's because it's not the most interesting place in town. The alternative to was watching a river flow, watching corn grow, it turns out that in today's class room, it looks like, less than half the class is paying attention after 10min. So, everyone else is somewhere else.
This is the competition for interest. All of the sudden, look at the bottom, it's school. One of the reasons is the cost of media production. Class room is $30/hour. Just does not compete. A good concept poorly produced is not as good or compelling as a crappy concept with a whole bunch of production values.. like $500k/hour of a video game.
Disruption is very boring. There are all kinds of tests.. if you .. public schools were created in the 1800s.
Every school needs an ...