Leveraging Technology

March 14, 2017

A Blast from the Past!

Filed under: e-learning — linda @ 10:30 am
Tags: , ,


The year was 1982, McDonald’s had just introduced the “Big Mac Attack” campaign, and I was creating a space invaders type of math game.

I won’t say this game was very sophisticated – but if you had or remember ATARI 400/800 and Apple II computers, then you know that anything with graphics was state of the art for that period.

The concept of the game was simple – a simple equation – your choice of addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division – in bold, beautiful colors – was dropped from a space ship that flew across the top of the screen. You had between 10 and 15 seconds to type in the correct answer or the space ship landed.


Being the non-violent person that I am, the city was never destroyed. But the number of landed equations was counted on the bottom of the screen. You could also accumulate points based on how quickly you typed in the answer. After 10 equations, the game was over and a message appeared on the screen.

As a teacher, I wanted positive, encouraging messages. So, even if they didn’t get answer one equation correctly, the message was still something like – “You can do it. Try harder the next time.”

The program was an immediate hit! We couldn’t keep up with the demand. Then, we really knew we were onto something. Within 6 month other software companies came out with Type Attack and other similar “Attack” programs.

A few years later, after we closed our company, I saw ads for our Big Math Attack being distributed as freeware by other companies.

But it’s nice to know that the educational software program that I wrote was the forerunner in a series of “edutainment” programs that is now the standard for creating educational software for kids!

Linda Watson-Call is an Instructional Designer specializing in creating effective eLearning courses. She was the co-founder of T.H.E.S.I.S., one of the first software firms that created educational programs for the ATARI and APPLE computers.

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