Much of my life has been shaped by a program I was part of in Lynn, Massachusetts in the early 80s called Project Summit. It was a special program during the school year where one day a week I went to a different school across town and attended an all day class for gifted kids from all over the city. I was part of the program in the fourth, fifth and sixth grade - so from ages 9-11, years 1981-1983.
That's where I learned to program for the first time on TRS-80 computers, which were part of the curriculum and at the time were pretty cool. The first year we were mostly on the old black and white terminals, but then later we used the Color Computer. I have very fond memories of tapping out BASIC commands, line by line to do stuff like Text Adventures and other little programs. I created a relatively complex game called "Letter Defender" (coined by my best friend at the time, Jose Herrera, I wonder what he's doing now?) to teach you how to type. You know, where blocks fell from the top of the screen and you had to type the random letters below to defend the blocks. This established me as the computer geek of my little world - where other kids were excelling at prime numbers or logic games, I supposedly was the whiz at the computer. My parents even bought me one - I have the picture of me opening it up for Christmas, I need to find it.
I think you have to imagine what it was like at the time to go from my run-down elementary school where we had to have bake sales to buy books, to another school across town that was completely new. Unlike my school with hard floors, drafty windows and old wooden desks that still had inkwells in them, the Project Summit school had rugs on the floors and modern furniture, and computers! It was so incredible - 20 years later I can barely remember anything about what happened there, but I remember the *feeling* of going there still. It was definitelys something special.
Elementary school ended and we eventually moved to northern New Hampshire where computers were pretty rare (I remember having a computer course in my senior year in High School where we covered the things I learned in Project Summit in 4th grade). It wasn't until I was out of college and looking for a job when I picked up programming again, incredible as that may seem. Well, probably not incredible to anyone who's had to work with code I've written, but since I'm happily no longer a programmer I've stopped inflicting the world with that particular burden.
Anyways, this is one of those posts where I throw it out there and see what happens. Do you know anything about this program? When did it start? Is it still going? Was it just Lynn, or did other places have this sort of thing? Where you part of that program? Do you know my wonderful teacher, Mrs. Antonakis? Tell her I said Hi!