Computers have been in use since the 1900s, starting with tabulating machines, followed by mainframes and mid-sized computers. It’s estimated that there were only 250 computers in use in 1955. By 1965, there were still only about 200,000 computers in the world.
As smaller, more affordable computers began to emerge in the late 1970s, there was still a lot of skepticism about their usability. In 1977, Ken Olsen, co-founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, one of the most successful technology companies of its era, famously predicted “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”
That was the same year Apple introduced the Apple II to the public, and people began to understand that affordable computers for the office or home were actually possible.
The next major milestone happened when IBM launched its IBM PC in 1981. The company made a critical decision that not only helped them get to market quickly, but also helped validate the nascent market for personal computers. Instead of using a proprietary design that would allow IBM to control every aspect of design, manufacturing and distribution of the PC, IBM used third-party products that were readily available and a network of independent dealers. Soon, other computer makers began designing products, printers, components and PCs that were “IBM Compatible,” allowing software, peripherals and devices to talk to each other in the same “language” and the PC market took off.
In the mid 1990s, the next big breakthrough occurred in computing with the advent of the internet. What began as websites acting mainly as sales brochures quickly grew into a redefinition of how businesses could operate and how people could access information, commerce and connecting with each other.
Computing quickly became ubiquitous, touching every part of our lives, including the way students learn and teachers teach. To demonstrate how pervasive computers have become, there were 261 million PC shipped around the world in 2019 alone.
And yet, with computers seemingly everywhere, there still exists a Digital Divide – groups of haves and have nots. It’s estimated that nearly half of homes in the world are without a computer, a startling number given how many computers are sold every year. These households are missing out on the amazing benefits of information and educational opportunities that computers offer.
This is the driving force behind the arrival of Hackboard. From the moment the company was founded, we set out to find a way to make a difference with technology and to finally end the Digital Divide.
To accomplish this lofty goal, we know we have to offer our products at lower-than-normal pricing, sacrificing some profitability in order to make our systems more accessible to more people. Our hope is that focusing more on people and less on profits will inspire folks to join us, to be in our corner, to tell others about us and to cheer us on.
We also know we’ll need help along the way – from crowd sourcing as we launch the company to school districts, state and federal governments and organizations dedicated to helping those who need computers to get access to them.
We’re just at the beginning of our journey, and we’re excited to see what happens next. We hope you’ll stand beside us with your support and encouragement. And along the way, let us know how we’re doing, what we can do better, and help us improve.
It’s an exciting time and we’re glad you’re here to share it with us.