March 06, 2007

The Little Professor!

"Ikaw hanggang 1+1 ka lang, mas marami akong alam sa iyo!" Family home entertainment was sure a lot of fun in the late '70s for families that could afford home arcade game systems such as Atari and ColecoVision. Instead of having to go to video game arcades, it was now possible to enjoy playing arcade classics in the comfort of your own living room. But this sudden market boom and big spending on video games had a lot of parents worried as their children were instantly addicted to these new technologies. They wished that manufacturers designed electronic games that offered a bit more educational value than the usual shoot-em-up. In 1976 parents rejoiced when Texas Instruments introduced the Little Professor. Texas Instruments at the time was best known for producing top of the line calculators. It wasn't much of a surprise that their first venture into making electronic games for children was in the fashion of a friendly looking educator.

the Little Professor was pretty small for its size during those days. It had a very lightweight casing in a favorable yellow color. The design was something all children loved: The keypad had the face of a friendly professor with a white mustache reading a thick brown book. The top portion (which formed the Professor's head) was appropriately shaped like a graduate's mortarboard. This housed a simple LED display, which was positioned right above his eyes. Numbers would flash on the screen which looked as if you could see what the Professor was thinking in his brain.

It should be made clear that the Little professor was not a calculator for children. It was a little nifty device that offered fun math based problem solving games to the user, that dealt in arithmetic basics such as: addition, multiplication, division, and subtraction. The package came with four colorful game cards, and each game card would correspond to a specific problem. The user would solve the problem on paper and enter the answer into the Little Professor's keypad. The Little Professor awards you with points for every correct answer. There were five difficulty levels for users to choose from, which was also specifically made to challenge children and further their math skills.

The success of the Little Professor led Texas Instruments to produce more electronic educational wonders such as Speak & Spell, Speak & Read, and Speak & Math. The Little Professor was definitely a big success for its time, and quite influential in inspiring other electronic companies to manufacture more educational games for children.




For more nostalgic toys & games: Robo Watch!
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3 comments:

edmond said...

hey i had this! yeah i remember it had a cool instruction and work book. i got it from when my dad came back from his business trip. then not much later i got a speak & spell from my tita. i forgot about this till today. this is a really cool site! thank you thank you!!!!

neil said...

Oh yes, these were so cool, my first ever "computer"!

Thomas Dement said...

I had one. I learned all my multiplication and division tables on it. I would lay in bed going through the questions until I fell asleep.



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