Robert Albrecht

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"Everything I have done is only practice for what I will do next." (Laran Stardrake)

Free Books by Bob Albrecht

Bob Albrecht is author or co-author of a steadily growing collection of free books available on the Information Age Education (IAE) website. You can download these books as PDF files or Microsoft Word files at

Counting Alakazams 01: Count Objects in Arrays

This 76-page eBook was inspired by Count von Count of Sesame Street. You can download it free as a PDF file or Word file or both. This eBook is intended for teachers of mathematics at all grade levels. It is about counting objects in square and rectangular arrays of tiny squares. The objects to be counted are squares and rectangles. Counting is one of the foundations of mathematics. Counting is fun!

Chapters: Rectangular and Square Arrays, Count Squares in Square Arrays, Count Squares in Rectangular Arrays, Count Rectangles in Square Arrays, Count Rectangles in Rectangular Arrays, Algebraic Alakazams, and Problems for You to Ponder.

As your students play through this book, they will encounter many Your Turn activities followed by Answers. Immediate feedback. This is a free book. It is OK for you to give snippets or the entire book to students, teachers, tutors, parents, grandparents, et al., et al. It is OK to cut, paste, and edit snippets into YOUR documents. May dragons of good fortune dance on your keyboard.

Download it at :

Mars, Earth, Curiosity 01

Curiosity, NASA's Mars Rover, is roving. This 12-page eBooklet uses images from Solar System Live to show the positions of Mars and Earth (Mercury and Venus too) in their orbits on the day the spacecraft carrying Curiosity to Mars was launched (2011-11-26), the day Curiosity was gently lowered to the surface of Mars (2012-08-06), and the 1st and 15th of every month from September 2012 through September 2013 (26 images of the inner planets' orbits, four per page). You can use these images to deduce which planets (Mars, Venus, Mercury) you can see from Earth, and the approximate time of day (night) that you can see them.

Hey, there is more: Solar System Live images of the inner planets' orbits at Mars opposition 2012-03-03 and conjunction 2013-04-17. Still more: Data, data, data about Mars and Earth, and a link to the Goddard Space Science Center where you can indulge your curiosity about Curiosity.

You can download Mars, Earth, Curiosity 01 as a PDF file or as a Word file. This is free book. It is AOK for you give snippets or the entire book to students, teachers, tutors, parents, grandparents, et al., et al. You can edit and improve the Microsoft Word version.

Download it at :

Mathemagical Meandering

You can download this free 41-page book as a PDF file or as a Microsoft Word file. It contains a motley assortment of meanderings by Bob Albrecht and George Firedrake. Several of these ramblings were previously posted on the Oregon Council of Teachers of Mathematics (OCTM) listserv. The booklet includes The Plop Investigation, A Plethora of Snakes, A Note on the Science of NFL Football, Round-Robin Tournament SAT Practice Test Question, Measure the Height of a Tall Object, Win a Bag of Money, Solar-System Necklace, Coconut-Carrying Swallows, Use FOIL to Multiply 2-Digit Numbers, Nine to the Nine to the Nine, Eager Eric Wants to be Shorn, Roll 2D6 Doubles Game, Are All Perfect Numbers Triangular Numbers?, and A Word Game Using a TI-84 to 'Roll' 26-Faced Dice.

This is free book. It is AOK for you give snippets or the entire book to students, teachers, tutors, parents, grandparents, et al., et al. You can edit and improve the Microsoft Word version.

Download it at :

Mathemagical Black Holes

Mathemagical Black Holes is a free 96-page book that you can download as a PDF file or as a Microsoft Word file. You and your students/tutees can edit the Word file, improve it, enhance it, et cetera, et cetera.

The book includes Mathemagical Black Holes of the Simple Kind, Mathemagical Black Hole 123, Mathemagical Black Holes 99 & 1089, Mathemagical Black Hole 495, Mathemagical Black Hole 6174, Mathemagical Black Hole 153, Mathemagical Square Root Black Hole, and Mathemagical Black Holes of the Cyclic Kind. We think that first-grade students can enjoy some of the simple black holes and Black Hole 123, especially with you coaching them. Black Hole 123 is amazing, and requires only counting and catenating (putting numbers together).

Grab your magic wand, hop on your broom, and explore mathemagical black holes.

This is free book. It is AOK for you give snippets or the entire book to students, teachers, tutors, parents, grandparents, et al., et al.

Download it at :

Solar System Perambulations

Most of our heroes are great mathematicians, physicists, and astronomers. Just for the fun of it, we wrote this 58-page book. It lists 53 mathematicians, physicists, and astronomers, one per page. For each entry, we show date of birth, the positions of the eight planets and dwarf planet Pluto on the birth date, a link to the person's Wikipedia web page, and a table of data about the eight planets, dwarf planets Pluto and Ceres, and Earth's Moon.

We show you how to use the diagram of the planets' orbits to deduce what planets you can see and about what time of day (night) you can see them. We do this exercise with students we tutor – they like it.

This is a free book. It is AOK for you give snippets or the entire book to students, teachers, tutors, parents, grandparents, et al., et al. You can download this book as a PDF file or as a Word file - you and your students can edit and improve the Microsoft Word version.

Download it at :

Mathemagical Numbers 1 to 99

Mathemagical Numbers 1 to 99 is a free 39-page book about the natural numbers 1 to 99. We list some of our favorite properties about each natural number 1 to 99. You will find odd numbers, even numbers, prime numbers, emirps, palprimes, composite numbers, prime factorizations of composite numbers, factors, proper factors, sums of factors, sums of proper factors, deficient numbers, perfect numbers, abundant numbers, square numbers, cubic numbers, triangular numbers, factorial numbers, Fibonacci numbers, palindromic numbers, and the number of protons in atoms from hydrogen to einsteinium. You can download this booklet as a PDF file or as a Microsoft Word file that you can edit. You can add your favorite properties to the numbers 1 to 99 and have your students participate in the process.

This is free book. It is AOK for you give snippets or the entire book to students, teachers, tutors, parents, grandparents, et al., et al.

Download it at :

Mathemagical Numbers 100 to 199

Mathemagical Numbers 100 to 199 is a free 39-page book about the natural numbers 100 to 199. We list some of our favorite properties about each natural number 100 to 199. You will find odd numbers, even numbers, prime numbers, emirps, palprimes, composite numbers, prime factorizations of composite numbers, factors, proper factors, sums of factors, sums of proper factors, deficient numbers, perfect numbers, abundant numbers, square numbers, cubic numbers, triangular numbers, factorial numbers, Fibonacci numbers, and palindromic numbers. You can download this booklet as a PDF file or as a Microsoft Word file that you can edit. You can add your favorite properties to the numbers 1 to 99 and have your students participate in the process.

This is free book. It is AOK for you give snippets or the entire book to students, teachers, tutors, parents, grandparents, et al., et al. You can edit and improve the Microsoft Word version.

Download it at :

Mathemagical Numbers 200 to 299

Mathemagical Numbers 200 to 299 is a free 39-page book about the natural numbers 200 to 299. We list some of our favorite properties about each natural number 200 to 299. You will find odd numbers, even numbers, prime numbers, emirps, palprimes, composite numbers, prime factorizations of composite numbers, factors, proper factors, sums of factors, sums of proper factors, deficient numbers, perfect numbers, abundant numbers, square numbers, cubic numbers, triangular numbers, factorial numbers, Fibonacci numbers, and palindromic numbers. You can download this booklet as a PDF file or as a Microsoft Word file that you can edit. You can add your favorite properties to the numbers 200 to 299 and have your students participate in the process.

This is free book. It is AOK for you give snippets or the entire book to students, teachers, tutors, parents, grandparents, et al., et al. You can edit and improve the Microsoft Word version.

Download it at :

Algebra: Numbers 01

Welcome to Algebra: Numbers 01. This 38-page teach-yourself unit is a very slow introduction to natural numbers and whole numbers presented in small bite-sized chunks. Nibble, nibble, gnosh, gnosh, learn a little algebra. It is slow and easy. Topics include natural numbers, whole numbers, odd numbers, even numbers, square numbers, triangular numbers, and a math recreation called mathemagical black hole 123. There are 22 sets of Your Turn exercises with answers and a 17-question self-test with answers. Algebra: Numbers 01 is available as a PDF file and also as a Microsoft Word file that you can edit. May dragons of algebraic alakazams be with you.

This is free book. It is AOK for you give snippets or the entire book to students, teachers, tutors, parents, grandparents, et al., et al. You can edit and improve the Microsoft Word version.

Download it at :

Moursund and Albrecht free books:

Moursund, David, and Albrecht, Robert (2011). Using Math Games and Word Problems to Increase the Math Maturity of K-8 Students. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Download Microsoft Word file from Download PDF file from

This 210-page book is for preservice and inservice teachers who want to improve the informal and formal math education of preK-8 students. The authors emphasize using simple, inexpensive, edutainment games to provide students with learning environments that help to increase their levels of math maturity and understanding of math. The focus is on learning for understanding that will last a lifetime.

Moursund, David, and Albrecht, Robert (9/2/2011). Becoming a Better Math Tutor. Eugene. OR: Information Age Education. The PDF file is available at The Microsoft Word file is available at If you want to just view the TOC, Preface, the first two chapters, and the two Appendices, go to

This 145-page book about math tutoring is designed to help K-12 math tutors and tutees get better at their respective and mutual tasks.

About Robert (Bob) Albrecht

Bob Albrecht (aka George Firedrake; aka the Dragon) has played a major role in the development of Information Age Education. This document contains a few of the major highlights of his areas of contributions. Notice that his early involvement dates back at least to the early 1960s and that he is still actively engaged in working to improve education.


Bob is a prolific writer. He has authored and/or coauthored a very large number of books. His first three published books are:

  • Computer Methods in Mathematics (December, 1968)
  • Teach Yourself BASIC (1970)
  • My Computer Likes Me (1972)

Some others from his list of more than 30 books include:

  • Adventurer’s Handbook: A Guide to Role-Playing Games (Albrecht and Stafford). Reston, 1984.
  • Play Together, Learn Together (Albrecht, et al). Grolier, 1986
  • Simply Excel (Zamora and Albrecht). Osborne McGraw-Hill, 1992.
  • Teach Yourself Visual Basic (Albrecht and Albrecht). Osborne McGraw-Hill, 1996.

Math Education

Here is the list of members of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Computer-Oriented Mathematics Committee that wrote the 49 page booklet:

Introduction to an Algorithmic Language (BASIC). Copyright 1968. Publisher: NCTM.

Notice that Bob and three of the other members are currently in the list of Pioneers in the field of Computers in Education. In the early days of computers in precollege education, it was often math educators who were leading the way.

Robert L. Albrecht
Sylvia Charp
David C. Johnson
Bruce E. Merserve
John O. Parker
Dina Gladys S. Thompson
William F. Atchison (Chairman)

Starting a Variety of Periodicals

One of Bob's characteristics has been that when he sees a problem that interests him, he does something about it. Time after time this has involved a high level of creativity. For example, the following is quoted from The History and Philosophy of Dr. Dobb's Journal:

The history of Dr. Dobb's Journal goes back to the earliest days of the microcomputer industry. In 1975, MITS created the Altair, the first real microcomputer. One of the few people who realized the significance of this event was Bob Albrecht, an ardent supporter of computer education for the masses. Albrecht had always believed that the general public should have access to computers and knew that the Altair and similar machines could make this happen. He also realized that widespread use of microcomputers was unlikely as long as the only language in which they could be programmed was assembly language.
Albrecht concluded that what was needed was a public-domain version of BASIC that could be distributed to microcomputer enthusiasts everywhere. He persuaded his friend Dennis Allison, a member of the Computer Science faculty at Stanford, to write a version of BASIC that was small enough to fit within the limited memory of the new machines.
Dennis and Bob originally published the design of "Tiny" BASIC in a quarterly tabloid, People's Computer Company (PCC), in three parts during early 1975. PCC, which was created in the early 1970's by Bob, was devoted to computer games, BASIC programming and computers for the masses.

This is information written by Bob Albrecht and quoted from Bob Albrecht—Past Adventures:

It happened on a nice day in the summer of 1972, probably while enjoying drinking beer with friends at Pete’s Harbor. An idea: Wouldn't it be nice to start a periodical about personal access to computers for learners, teachers, anyone? As the beer dwindled, the idea grew.
LeRoy Finkel was the business brain of our company called Dymax. He said we could do it if we could do it cheaply. The cheapest way we knew was to publish it in newspaper format. Inspired by Big Brother and the Holding Company, we called it People's Computer Company.
The first issue (October 1972) was created by LeRoy Finkel, Mary Jo Albrecht (now Mary Jo Bajada), Jerry Brown, Marc LeBrun, Jane Wood, Tom Albrecht (my son), and me. I was PCC's editor until fall 1976, when Phyllis Cole and Marc LeBrun took over. As Dragon Emeritus, I wrote San Andreas Fault Caper, Don Quixote Starship, Tiny Basic for Beginners, Make-Believe Computers, and Games for You to Program.
Albrecht and Allison decided to publish Tiny BASIC as a three part document in newsletter format and Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontia was born. [Bold added for emphasis.]

Notice the mention of the People's Computer Company, which Bob started in 1972. Quoting from The PCC Archive Project Project:

The People's Computer Company published a number of different periodicals and books during the 1970s and 1980s. The primary focus of the archive will be PCC's flagship publication which began as PCC Newspaper and changed names several times in the course of its existence:

  1. PCC Newspaper
  2. People's Computers
  3. Recreational Computing
In addition, PCC started and published several journals and books including The Computer Music Journal and Dr. Dobb's Journal. The Computer Music Journal was collected archivally from the start. DDJ has excellent on-line archives constructed and maintained by the commercial publisher.

Here is some more about PCC quoted from

Produced by Bob Albrecht & George Firedrake in Menlo Park, California from the early 70s onward, the People's Computer Center, the People's Computer Company Newsletters, and DragonSmoke were a vital early spark that helped ignite the culture of people having a personal and creative relationship with computers. Many things came out of the PCC, which will be described on these pages in the coming months. PCC helped to spawn Dr. Dobb's journal and itself morphed into Recreational Computing magazine by the end of the 1970s. Each issue has a dragon theme on the cover or somewhere within especially in the classic DragonSmoke pieces found in most issues. These great documents also contain the super cool "Fortran Man" cartoons (some of the first cartoons about computers and those who use them). We are most grateful to Bob Albrecht for his support of this project to tell the story of PCC. Last but not least, see Bob & George's description of DragonSmoke here and read some of Bob's words below.
Click on the PCC covers below for detailed views and individual issue page scans and descriptions. If you have any information about these newsletters or could contribute other newsletters or stories from this period, please contact us.

A Bit of BASIC History

Quoting Bob Albrecht:

LeRoy and Jerry and I wrote books, lots of books. Don Inman, Ramon Zamora, and others joined our author team. I wrote or coauthored 30+ books, including many beginner’s books about Basic.
My last book was Teach Yourself Visual Basic by me and son Karl Albrecht, published in 1996. Here is my favorite excerpt from Teach Yourself Visual Basic:
A Byte of Basic History [Written in 1995]
On May 1, 1964 at 4:00 A.M., Professor John Kemeny and a student simultaneously entered and ran Basic programs on the Dartmouth College Time-Sharing System. Thus was born Basic, the first computer programming language designed to be used by just about everyone. On that day, Basic's creators, John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz, realized their dream of providing easy computer access for all Dartmouth students and faculty. Basic was destined the become the "People's Computer Language," used by more people than any other computer language.
I learned about Basic soon after its creation, and immediately switched from FORTRAN to Basic as the best language for teaching kids how to program. I printed cards and buttons with the message SHAFT (Society to Help Abolish FORTRAN Teaching) and traveled the country, spreading the word about Basic to teachers and students in elementary and secondary schools. Since Basic's birth in 1964, I've been author or coauthor of more than 30 beginner's books about various versions of Basic.
As I got older, Basic got better, evolving to meet the needs of its users. Along the way, my greatest pleasure was helping son Karl start using Basic at about age 13. For awhile, I moved to newer and better versions of Basic and Karl followed. One day this scenario flip-flopped - Karl leaped up, up, and away while I was stuck writing QBasic books. Karl had discovered Visual Basic.
Serendipity! The student became the teacher, the teacher became the student. For Karl and me, all those old versions of Basic are like earth-bound vehicles. Visual Basic is like a starship, a quantum leap beyond its pregenitors. We wanted to share our adventure with beginners, people who have no programming experience, so we wrote Teach Yourself Visual Basic, my 30-somethingth book, Karl's first book.
After this grand finale, I quit writing computer books and plunged full-time into my real love: writing math & science instructional stuff for learners and teachers.

Involved with MECC

The following is quoted from a [ 1995 interview with Dale LaFrenz, one of the founders of the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium.

O'NEILL: Were you using them [computers] in the lab school?
LAFRENZ: No, but we were looking for some way to get computers and kids together in 1963. One activity certainly was an outgrowth of the environment because in working in the Twin Cities area it was impossible to be unfamiliar with what was going on in the world of computing. We had the vision that computing was going to have something to do with education and we wanted to get involved.
We were about to buy a U422 for the U-Hi School. We had an arrangement whereby we could get one at a reasonable rate and put it in the classroom when along came a person by the name of Bob Albrecht. Bob was a graduate student [at the University of Minnesota] and had worked at CDC and was interested in computers and interested in education. There were five of us at that time who were working on this project -- Pam Katzman, David Johnson, Larry Hatfield, Tom Kieran and myself. Bob said, "It would be good if looked into this thing called time-sharing and BASIC language which has just been announced." Kemeny and Kurtz, two professors at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire, had implemented time sharing. We called Dartmouth and said, "That sounds exactly like what we want to do." Bob had described how you'd have this little typewriter hooked by telephone to a very large computer. We called John Kemeny at Dartmouth who was the head of the project and later to become president of the University...

Some Vita Items

Quoting from Bob's 2005 Vita, he:

  • Worked with Dick Raymond to help start Portola Institute, a non-profit educational corporation.
  • Was a founder of People’s Computer Company, a non-profit organization devoted to educational, recreational, personal, and public uses of computers.
  • Was the editor of People's Computer Company (the periodical) 1972 – 1977.
  • Was the founder of the Learning Fair and co-director of the first Learning Fair at Peninsula School, Menlo Park CA.
  • Was co-founder with Dennis Allison of Dr. Dobb’s Journal, a professional journal of software tools for advanced computer programmers. I'm the "ob" of "Dobb."
  • Was co-founder with Don Inman of Calculators/Computers Magazine, a resource for teachers.
  • Was co-founder with Ramon Zamora of ComputerTown, USA, a community computer literacy project funded by the National Science Foundation.
  • Invented the HurkleQuest game and continues to work with a number of elementary school teachers and their students who participate in this educational game by email.

Bob was the founder in 1972 of People's Computer Company, the periodical (PCC), and later a co-founder of People's Computer Company, the non-profit educational corporation (PCC). PCC and PCC promoted personal access to computers beginning in October 1972, more than two years before the first personal computers showed up, such as the Altair in 1975. During that time (1972 and on), Bob, LeRoy Finkel, Jerry Brown, Bob Kahn and others taught University of California Extension courses called 1) Computers in the Classroom and 2) Games Computers Play - here, there, everywhere in California. They brought computers to math and science teachers' conferences and ran all-day-long workshops.

Community Computer Center (CCC) was a spinoff from PCC the company. The following people who made it happen. They can tell you everything you want to know about CCC:

Howard (Howie) Franklin

Marc LeBrun

Dave Kaufman

Joanne Verplank

Reality expands to fill the available fantasies.

Role in Creation of ICCE and ISTE

In 1977, Bob co founded Calculators/Computers Magazine. He decided to "fold" this magazine in 1979. He offered its remaining store of submitted and/or accepted articles and its advertising base to the Oregon Computing Teacher. The Oregon Computing Teacher was a periodical started by David Moursund in Spring of 1974. Moursund accepted the gifts, created and incorporated the non-profit organization International Council for Computers in Education (ICCE), and changed the name of Oregon Computing Teacher to The Computing Teacher.

Ten years later Moursund changed the name International Council for Computers in Education to International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and the International Association for Computers in Education was merged into the renamed company. Eventually, the name of the periodical was changed to Learning and Leading with Technology.

Thus, as you can see, Bob Albrecht played a key role in the creation of ISTE. Over the years, he has written a great many articles for The Computing Teacher and for Learning and Leading with Technology.

Current Adventures

Recently (January, 2008) one of Bob's Hurkle messages included a reference to the song, Funicula, Funicula. I thanked him for the nice reference, and he replied via email:

You are welcome. Funiculi, Funicula is one of Hurkle's favorite songs. Bob's too. And George's. And Laran's. Some teachers have reported that they all sing it in their classrooms, especially after a successful HurkleQuest.
Interesting that Funiculi, Funicula is on a National Institutes of Health web site. I attribute my good mental health to whistling, singing, and dancing through life. When I was a kid in a small town in Iowa, everyone in town knew me as the kid who whistled and sang as he walked about. Later I was a piano bar hero, but that's another story for another time.

Note that NIH has a nice site for children.

Bob is currently involved in tutoring (algebra, calculus, and physics) and in developing curriculum materials, including:

  • Math Backpacks (algebra and calculus)
  • Physics Backpack
  • Play Together, Learn Together (systems of math games, grades 1-6)
  • Starship Gaia (Solar System Astronomy, Exploration of Mars)

As of 4/26/2008 Bob has posted more than 80 instructional files at, and is feverishly writing more stuff.

bob and george
albrecht hurklequest [play-by-email game, grades 1 - 6]
albrecht wordsworth [intertwingled math & words, grades 1 and up]
albrecht game
albrecht number
bob and george

Bob and Brian Hanna wrote "Investigation Backpack," a column in The Oregon Mathematics Teacher (TOMT), the journal of the Oregon Council of Teachers of Mathematics (OCTM).

  • Go to Curriki and search for 'albrecht hanna investigation'

Best and most fun current adventure: Bob & George (George Firedrake) run HurkleQuest play-by-email games for Oregon teachers and their students, grades 1-6.

  • Search for 'hurkle' at IAE-pedia
  • Go to Curriki and search for 'hurklequest'

"When tools become toys, then work becomes play." (Bernie DeKoven)

"Reality expands to fill the available fantasies. (Laran Stardrake)

An Interview With Albrecht

See Here are two of the interview questions/answers published on the History of Computing in Learning (HCLE) Virtual Museum Blog.

Jon Cappetta: What do you think sparked your interest in computers?
Bob Albrecht: My interest in computers? Well, let’s see; it began in 1955. After going to college for quite a few years, I finally quit halfway through a masters degree and went to work at Minneapolis Honeywell Aeronautical Division in Minneapolis. This was one of those places where almost as far as you can see in this huge room were rows and columns of desks and engineers; sitting at them doing things. At first, I worked on analog computers there- REAC analog computers. It was a room about let’s see two-thirds the size of this room (20 yards by 20 yards) full of these components and analog computers. You would use wires to hook components together and than you can simulate differential equations. We were working on flight control systems for high-speed jet aircraft. There were other ways at that time to analyze control systems, several mechanisms’ feedback control systems.

Then upstairs they got an IBM650 computer, which was upstairs from where I hung out and worked at my desk. One day my boss called me in, I had only been there for three or four months, and he said that he would like me to go upstairs and learn how to use that computer. Once I learned how to use it he then wanted me to spread the word down where we were. So that was my introduction to computers, an IBM650 drum computer. The memory was a drum that would spin. We used punch cards for input and such. So that was my introduction to computing.

Jon: Can you further elaborate on your experience of teaching and computing in the early 1960s?
Bob: So, in 1962 I began to teach high school students. Some of whom are well known now such as Randy Levine and Bob Kahn, both of whom were in the first group of students that I taught FORTRAN to in the Control Data office. I talked the University of Colorado Denver Center into going for a National Science Foundation grant. Control Data than provided a 160A, which would run FORTRAN paper tape, punch a paper tape on flexi readers and feed it in. So we ran that. My students were the teachers; so, they taught students and teachers in the evening classes under this NSF grant. I wrote about these kids in Datamation magazine in about 1964 and the article I wrote was called a Modern Day Medicine Show. We picked up the 160A moved it into George Washington High school and for an entire day my students ran demonstrations for different classes that were brought in. Similar to an old fashion medicine show of some guy standing up there trying to sell phony medicine, it struck with me, that this was like this with my students as the barkers. (Students including Levine and Kahn, and Fred Riss whom, I believe, eventually became a vice-president of Research at IBM.)

Email from Evan Koblentz

From: Evan Koblentz


Sent: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 3:32 PM

Subject: People's Computer Company...


I was referred to you by my friend Bruce Damer at the Digibarn.

I run a computer collectors' club and museum called MARCH - "Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists" - based at the InfoAge Science Center, in Wall, New Jersey. We formed in 2005 and we host the eastern edition of the Vintage Computer Festival.

Today, while sorting through a "rescue" in someone's basement, we found a nearly complete set of the first few years of the PCC newsletter. We also found the oversize PCC game book from 1977.

As you can imagine, upon finding these, my head exploded. It was quite a mess, although luckily the newsletters were unblemished.

We already had first editions of Byte, Creative Computing, Dr. Dobb's, Interface Age, and Kilobaud magazines. But we appreciate that PCC started it all. These newsletters immediately became the gem of our museum library, and it made our day to discover them. We put them directly on display rather than going into storage.

Anyway, we just wanted to tell you about this find, and to invite you for a museum tour if you're ever between the New York and Philadelphia metropolitans regions.

Thank you, Evan Koblentz, President, MARCH

Bob's Responses to Reader-posed Questions

Q. I have read many of your writings over a period of years, when I first saw that you were co-authoring with George Firedrake. I had never heard of him. Considerably later, I learned that he was you. Can you tell me about the emergence of George Firedrake?

A. When I was a freshman in high school, I became very interested in dragons and fantasy fiction that featured dragons. One day we had an assembly in which a singer with a most excellent voice entertained us. My favorite song that he sang was I'm the Reluctant Dragon, about a dragon who would rather play than fight. Many years later, I sang this song to my very young children as I held them in my arms and rocked them. I adopted the helpful dragon as my life companion.

In 1971 or 1972 or thenabout, a special friend gave me a book titled (I think I recall) The Truth About Dragons, supposedly written by a 606 year old dragon named Firedrake. Liked that book – loved it.

I started using Firedrake in my writing as a character who played games with kids. Sometimes Firedrake would blow smoke and make an illegal move in the hope that the child would not detect it. If the child did not detect his misdeed, Firedrake would fess up and then use the event as a teaching moment. Firedrake was a very helpful dragon who loved kids.

Those days of yore were the early 1970s: People's Computer Company, Mid-peninsula Free University, Whole Earth Catalog, biofeedback, geodesic domes, et cetera, et cetera. Look 'em up on the Internet. It was a time of consciousness-raising – and conscious-razing through 'encounter groups'.

I sampled a bunch of these. My favorites were self-hypnosis and biofeedback. Took lots of classes, including Jeanne Eastman's self-hypnosis course at Foothill College in Los Altos, CA. At the first meeting, Jeanne asked us to give our subconscious a name so that we could converse with him/her/it as we would with any sentient entity. Jeanne called her subconscious "George."

Liked that idea a lot and named my subconscious Firedrake, a dragon. As Gaia turned, I went to Jeanne's class once a week. She talked about her subconscious named George and I thought about my subconscious named Firedrake.

One day, I know not when, I said, "Hello, George Firedrake." We have been playing together, learning together since that magic moment.

Q. Of all the many contributions you have made to the world of education, which ones are you most proud of?

A. (This is a work in progress. Answer has not yet been provided.)

Q. You have written an amazing number of books. Many of these books have been co-authored. It looks like you have helped many people get started in writing books. Can you tell us about why or how you have been so successful in this type of difficult collaboration?

A. I'm an only child. I meander through life looking for spirit brothers and sisters. Love working as a member of a team. Perhaps that is why I brought on George Firedrake. Bob and George – a team. Here we go.

It began with My Computer Likes Me (1972) by me. I wrote it, but much of the wonderment was created by Jerry Brown (Jerald R. Brown) and Mary Jo Albrecht. Their enhancement of what I wrote was a glimpse into the way to write stuff as part of a team. Thanks, Jerry. Thanks, Mary Jo, now Mary Jo Bajada.

Soon came BASIC, Atari Basic, and other books by Bob, LeRoy Finkel, and Jerald R. Brown, published in John Wiley & Son's Self-Teaching Guide series. LeRoy's and Jerry's first books published by a major publisher. They were ready to be first authors.

LeRoy and Jerry wrote a bunch of Wiley Self-Teaching Guides:

Data File Programming in BASIC (LeRoy & Jerry)
Basic for the Apple II (Jerry & LeRoy)
Several more

And then Jerry wrote his tour de force, Instant BASIC. Jerry was a great graphics artist as well as a great writer. Jerry wrote Instant BASIC, laid it out graphically, and got it published.

Don Inman and Ramon Zamora joined the author team, and more books emerged, not necessarily in this order:

TRS-80 Basic (Bob, Don, and Ramon)
More TRS-80 Basic (Don, Ramon, and Bob)
Basic for Home Computers (Bob, LeRoy, and Jerry)
The Shareware Book (Ramon and Bob)
Simply Excel (Ramon and Bob)
Deskmate Made Easy (Ramon and Bob)
GW Basic Made Easy (Bob and Don)
QBasic Made Easy (Don and Bob)
Play Together, Learn Together (Bob, Ramon, Sheri Bakun, and Frona Kahn)
Et cetera, et cetera

Along the way Bob wrote a few solo books and a book about role-playing games with master game designer Greg Stafford:

TRS-80 Color Basic
Atari Basic XL Edition
Teach Yourself GW Basic
Adventurer's Handbook (Bob and Greg Stafford)

Bob's last computer book was Teach Yourself Visual Basic with son Karl as co-author, published in 1996 by Osborne McGraw-Hill. Then Bob quit writing computer books and plunged full-time into his real love: writing math & science instructional stuff for learners and teachers. Currently he is writing math and science instructional stuff and putting in on the Interent at IAE-pedia and Curriki.

To find Bob's (and George Firedrake's) stuff at IAE-pedia, go to

To find Bob's (and George Firedrake's) stuff at Curriki, go to and try these search keys:

bob and george
bob and george game
bob and george algebra
bob and george learning leading technology
bob and george hanna

A larger list of books authored or co-authored by Bob Albrecht is available at

Comment by David Moursund 8/6/2009

I have known Bob Albrecht for a great many years. His assistance in founding (in 1979) the organization now named ISTE is acknowledged earlier in this document. Over the years, we have had many phone conversations, communicated extensively via email, and met occasionally.

Games and games in education have been a driving force in Bob's life. I still remember back in the "good, old days" when he convinced me, Lud Braun and others to participate in a play by mail (email) game. This was my first introduction to this genre of games, and it was a lot of fun.

More recently, Bob has moved from California to Newport, Oregon. This is about a hundred miles from where I live, and it is on the Oregon coast. I visit with Bob about every two months, and all of these visits have been delightful to me. This led to us beginning to co-author books, and the writing has been a really fun collaboration. (In addition, each visit allows me to spend time on the Oregon coast, which is one of the great pleasures of my life.)

Bob is an amazing person. His depth and breadth of knowledge and interests means that our conversations are always very educational for me. He is an avid reader, with a special interest in science fiction. He has a great memory for people and for the activities in which he has been involved. He continues to be an active writer, and he continues to work with children.


Albrecht, Bob, and Firedrake, George (2004). DragonSmoke #01. Retrieved 7/17/07:

Albrecht, Robert L. (1963). A modern-day medicine show. Reprinted from DATAMATION. Retrieved 8/24/07: This article illustrates Albrecht's early involvement in the field of teaching precollege students to make use of computers. The work was done and the article was written while he was working for Control Data Corporation. Quoting from the article:

During the summer of 1962, the Denver, Colorado office of Control Data Corporation gave a course in the use of computers to a group of gifted mathematics students from Denver's George Washington High School (GWHS). Emphasis was placed on the use of a computer as a computational tool to assist students in solving mathematics problems. We had so much fun that we continued the course at GWHS through the 1962-63 school year, and extended the program to eight others schools in Denver and Jefferson counties. So far, more than 200 students have been introduced to the hardware as a handy device for getting answers to mathematical problems.

DigiBarn computer museum (n.d.). DigiBarn Presents: DragonSmoke #01. Retrieved 12/11/2011 from

PCC (2001). The People's Computer Company Alumni Pages. Retrieved 7/17/07:

Bob Albrecht Timeline

1930-02-18 Bob was born at Mercy Hospital in Mason City, Iowa. Parents: Thomas and Gladys Albrecht. After deciding to accept him, Tom and Gladys took Bob home to Greene, Iowa where Bob spent many years becoming older. Greene was a town of 1300 people 35 miles southeast of Mason City. A river runs through it - the Shell Rock River.

Mason City is the River City of Meredith Willson's musical The Music Man.

See Music Man - Wikipedia,_Iowa
"Meredith Willson was inspired by his boyhood in Mason City to write and compose his first musical, The Music Man."

1936-09-?? Bob entered 1st grade at Sacred Heart Academy, a small Catholic school in Greene. The teachers were nuns from the Order of St. Francis. When Bob began, Sacred Heart Academy included grades 9-12, but these grades disappeared as the number of high-school students dwindled. Through most of Bob's time at Sacred Heart Academy, it was a K-8 school.

Bob was a wiz at math and spelling. There were many spelling bees. Bob won most.

1941 Bob was in grade 6 in a room that included grades 6, 7, and 8. Eleven students in three grades in one room. The teacher was a young nun recently arrived from the Sisters of Saint Francis convent. This was her first teaching adventure. She feared math. She especially feared word problems.

Bob saw an opportunity. He said, "Sister M, I love math and I love word problems. May I help you teach math?"

Sister M grabbed this opportunity like a drowning person grabbing a lifebelt. She gave Bob copies of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade math books. Bob went through them, solved the word problems, and for three years, helped Sister M help learners learn. She became better and needed less help as Gaia turned -- 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade.

Bob's peers didn't mind Bob helping teach math. They were farmers and they knew that they could farm rings around Bob. Farming was the most important activity in the vicinity of Greene.

Sister M was very appreciative of Bob's help, and allowed Bob to introduce activities into the classroom such as building model airplanes and experimenting with electrical stuff.

Aha! The magic of a small number of students and a wonderful teacher.

1947 or 1948 Bob became the second Eagle Scout in Greene, Iowa. His best friend Dave Graven was Greene's first Eagle Scout. Dave was two years older than Bob and his role model, a good person to be like.

Bob went on to emcee investiture ceremonies for new Eagle Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America Winnebago Council based in Mason City, Iowa.

1948-September Bob graduated from Greene High School in June 1948 and enrolled at Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) in Ames, Iowa. He attended a one-week camp for incoming freshmen.

Bob discovered that 17 of the 150 campers were named 'Bob', so he organized a softball team of players named 'Bob' and challenged other campers to form teams and play games. They did. During games, often heard were encouraging words such as:

Good catch, Bob.
Nice throw, Bob.
Great hit, Bob.
Way to go, Bob.
Et cetera, et cetera.

Bob remembers those encouraging words and frequently says them to himself.


This page was developed by Bob Albrecht and David Moursund. Bob and Dave have been professional colleagues since 1979.