Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

Platform Wars

Ed Tech: A Brief History

From computer games to interactive apps, here's a look at the increasing sophistication of classroom technology in the information age.

Ed Tech: A Brief History

[Photo: Flickr user Kevin Jarrett]


Three teachers invent the Oregon Trail computer game to teach students history and math skills while navigating the hardships of 19th-century pioneer. It infiltrates schools one floppy disk at a time.


In a foresighted move, Steve Jobs's young company donates an Apple IIe each to roughly 9,000 California public schools; its products have been classroom mainstays ever since.


Bill Gates packages Word, Excel, and PowerPoint together to create Microsoft Office, a program that eventually claims more than one billion users worldwide—many of them students who quickly become accustomed to grade-saving tools like spell-check.


Buh-bye, chalk. The digital Smart Board allows teachers to display interactive information from their computers.


Texas Instruments releases its TI-83 graphing calculator, which swiftly becomes a standard-bearer for solving complex math problems (and passing notes).


Nicholas Negroponte launches One Laptop Per Child to bring affordable computers to children in the developing world. It falters, but is a precursor to Google’s Chromebook.


A year after Apple releases its first iPad, schools across the country start experimenting with it as a way to replace expensive textbooks and offer students interactive learning experiences.


The Chromebook overtakes the iPad as the best-selling education device in the U.S.


Microsoft gives students a further boost with two significant updates to Word: Researcher, which pulls information from trusted Internet sources, and Editor, which uses machine learning to offer suggested improvements to a user’s writing.

Facebook and nonprofit charter school network Summit Public Schools begin releasing their self-directed learning platform to schools across the country.

A version of this article appeared in the October 2016 issue of Fast Company magazine.

The Fast Company Innovation Festival