Here are some of my informal remarks about the proposed Ghana project.
I am delighted to see that the Voluntary Workcamps Association of Ghana
(VOLU) will try and reach out to young Ghanaians who otherwise may not have
such an opportunity to have intimate exposure to computers and the Internet
at an early age.
Hopefully, this will be good for Ghana in the long run. Computers are
destined to play an increasing role in all of our lives -- but the
availability of the technology is so horribly skewed toward to West, the gap
seems only to be widening ... at an exponential rate !!!!
It's another tragedy for Africa, compounded upon many others, so it seems.
That certainly is the pessimistic view -- to which I do not entirely subscribe.
True, these efforts by VOLU to reach out to Ghanaian youth and offer
hands-on exposure to computers at an early age, will be but a drop in the
bucket, but they are still significant.
Most of all, it's a matter, I feel, of translating TALK into ACTION. And
this, I am committed to doing.
I first had the thought of encouraging VOLU to develop computer tutorial
projects in the late '70s and early 80's (when I shared an apartment at the
time with Ghanaians Charles Kwasi Atlas and Negro MENSAH -- Negro who held a
national position with VOLU). That was back in the days before the IBM
desktop/clone revolution...back in the days when the best selling computers
were 8-bit CPM that ran on Z-80 processors. It was on these machines that
word processors, database managers and spreadsheet -- such as WordStar,
Dbase2, and SuperCalc -- first reached an undreamed of level of use in
offices and homes.
It was clear even then that computers were going to revolutionize
communication worldwide. I remember my first E-Mail account with MCI. For
a flat rate of $25 a month, MCI offered a plan of unlimited connection time
with numbers anywhere in the USA. It seemed like a dream come true.
Over a year or two, I purchased several of the very popular Kaypro Z-80/CPM
text-based computers, modems (I still have some of these old modems, as I
mentioned to you), printers, etc. -- with the hope that I could somehow get
these to VOLU as donations, and that VOLU could move forward with setting up
a computer tutorial program.
But I hesitated. I did not move forward fast enough. I did not translate
TALK into ACTION.
As it turned out, toward the mid 80's, the IBM revolution ignited, offering
the 8088 (and up) processors with the promise of faster true 16-bit data
paths to come. CPM was clearly overshadowed, rapidly abandoned, and my
investments over several years inevitably turned to ash. I held doggedly on
to these CPM machines, despite everything, for several more years. Only
recently, in fact, did I finally give the last one to the Goodwill.
At one point in my home, in every corner and closet, I had about 8 or 10
computers that had become obsolete. Even though some were still working,
they were not able to run any of the most coveted software out on the market.
Still, it was hard for me to bring myself to the point that I could discard
with this old equipment. Years passed. It wasn't until I purchased my
second MS-DOS machine, a 486 multimedia system, that I finally decided to
empty my closets of all old Z80 machines.
So, I am happy to see progress in the realization of this dream of VOLU's.
I am happy for Ghanaian youth. I hope that this tiny project will give rise
to far more ambitious projects all over Ghana.
Your help with this appeal on behalf of Ghana (helping to identify sources
for both materiel and personnel; helping to disseminate this appeal; or
sharing your ideas and expertise), would be GREATLY appreciated.
I hope you will do whatever you feel you can.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
University of California
Operation Crossroads Africa, Inc.
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