Oh, Those Dreaded Computers
Even though computers are increasingly important in most aspects of life, nearly a third of all people are afraid of using them, a university researcher says.
About 30 percent of adults suffer from cyberphobia, or fear of computers, said Abraham Kandel, Florida State University computer science department chairman.
Courses to combat cyberphobia are necessary, he said, because computer experts have so far failed to educate the public about some of the advantages of the technology.
"In the early part of the century, there was a fear of telephoning," Kandel said. "Later, there was a fear of flying.
"Now, (we have a) fear of computing."
A recent study by Program Design Inc. indicates preschool children can increase their learning skills at a much earlier age than previously thought through the use of computers.
Twenty 3-and 4-year olds, all from the same socioeconomic background in Connecticut, were chosen for the study. The group was divided into two sections, half studying with the aid of educational software programs produced by PDI, and the other half serving as a control.
"The children working with computers made a substantial gain of 47.4 percent, while the control group gained only 13.5 percent," said John Victor, president of PDI.
With the assistance of computers, the study found the children increased not only their reading skills, but also advanced their confidence level and ability to make decisions, Victor said.
"Computers are especially effective with children at the early stage of development," he added. "For one thing, they really enjoy working with them. It seems more play than work."
Fun And Games
Fun and learning need not be opposites, according to Atari Inc., which recently opened a unique learning and entertainment center in St. Louis.
Called Atari Adventure, the center offers something for just about everyone. It features a hands-on Computer Learning Center with a fulltime instructor in addition to a high-tech video game room. The center also includes a special display area where visitors can "touch tomorrow" through the latest in video game technology.
The Computer Learning Center is an eight-station classroom setting with an extensive software library, including word processing, Visicalc, programming languages and, of course, games.
Video game cartridges based on Bible stories have joined the ranks of computer games, with several already introduced during the past nine months.
While the Bible lessons show no indication of threatening the likes of Pac-Man and the rest of the bunch, the games producers hope the Bible versions will catch on with churches.
Warner Loves First Star
Warner Software Inc., the recently-formed subsidiary of Warner Publishing, has acquired a substantial interest in First Star Software, Inc., designers and publishers of computer software.
Under terms of the agreement, First Star will continue to operate independently -- but supported by the additional strengths, business experience, and publishing, marketing and distribution resources of Warner.
Tune In To This
Atari Inc. and Activision Inc. have formed a joint venture to broadcast video games to households.
The companies will introduce the service commercially during the second half of this year.
An unspecified type of broadcast technology will be used to transmit the games to a home receiver that plugs into a video game player. Initially, however, the service will play only on the Atari 2600 player or compatible machines.
The venture should provide game manufacturers and retailers with a gauge as to what games are popular.