Casual Photos: Computer Preparation for the SAT (IBM PC and IBM PCjr, 1983)

Bill Loguidice's picture

Today's casual photos - by request - and taken with a Canon digital camera, is from the Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Computer Test Preperation Series, Computer Preparation for the SAT, for the IBM PC and PCjr, from 1983. Its 1983 release date ranks it among the earliest releases indicated being specifically for the PCjr. While I haven't tested this product myself and may never get around to it, the fact that it's a non-intensive text-based program leads me to believe that not only should it work on standard PC compatibles running MS-DOS, but also most MS-DOS compatibles. The difference? Basically true PC compatibles were both BIOS and Microsoft DOS compatible with the original IBM PC (Compaq was one of the first to pull this feat off), while MS-DOS compatibles were not BIOS compatible, but ran their own version of Microsoft DOS (popular MS-DOS-only systems included the TI Professional, the Tandy 2000 and the Otrona Atache' 8:16). While this often meant a degree of file compatibility (and theoretically easy software ports for willing developers/publishers), any software that made specific calls to specific locations would typically fail. Luckily MS-DOS-only compatible systems gave way to 100% or near 100% compatibles by the mid-80's, for obvious reasons, as why support a dozen niche MS-DOS-only compatible systems that each required their own version of your software, when you could just write to the "PC Compatible" spec, holding the original IBM PC as the gold standard (Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft's Flight Simulator were often the best tests of true compatibility--if your system could run those with little to no issues, you were good to go).

As for IBM's PCjr, of course it was IBM's feature-crippled and relatively cheaper home version of their IBM PC, with the advantage of advanced 16 color graphics and 3 channel sound, as well as more user friendly interface ports and expansion options. The PCjr is probably most famous for its oft-criticized first revision wireless keyboard that featured chiclet (rubber) keys, and the fact that it was the platform that the original King's Quest was designed for. While IBM would fix the keyboard issue by replacing it with a proper full stroke model, the PCjr was never able to gain a proper foothold before IBM prematurely pulled the plug, with its promise ultimately being fulfilled by Tandy's 1000 series of computers (originally envisioned as PCjr clones, but were quickly turned into full PC clones with PCjr-like graphics and sound), which set their own sub-standard for years to come in the PC world with Tandy graphics and sound. Eventually the Tandy standard itself would go the way of the dodo in the wake of VGA graphics and ad lib/sound blaster sound, but it was ultimately a good run.

Anyway, back to Computer Preparation for the SAT. It actually seems fairly lame in that if you look at the shot from the manual, most of what it does is basically time you and let you fill in answers. All of the questions are provided in the companion book! A dubious use of computing power to say the least! Photos follow:

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Mark Vergeer
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SAT Exams

SAT Exams are US entry exams for admittance to US Universities, in a way comparable to UK A Levels and Dutch VWO, Atheneum or Gymnasium final exams.
In the US the hight of your SAT scores makes entry into ivy league Universities possible and/or special scholarships available. The rest of the world does it in various other ways.

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Bill Loguidice
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Thanks for that clarifier,

Thanks for that clarifier, Mark. I'd also like to add that the SAT's are stupid. I don't know how it is now, but when I was applying for college, a LOT of weight - too much weight - was placed on what your SAT score was. I despise the idea that a single test after 12+ years of schooling determines so much of which college you're allowed into, added to the fact that you have to pay out the ass for the "privilege".

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Yes, the commercial nature

Yes, the commercial nature of these tests is what I object to most. There are other problems, of course, one being that they don't put enough emphasis on writing. They also expect a lot of arbitrary knowledge, particularly odd synonyms and the like that I've never seen since.

I didn't take the SAT but rather the ACT, which I did pretty well on. My math score was the only thing really holding me back from a very impressive score. One of my deepest regrets is that I didn't have a more inspiring math teacher in high school (I had the same one for three years straight). She knew her stuff, but just had no excitement or interest in the stuff, and it was very difficult even for me to pay attention (and I was a nerd for sure). The only reason I got interested in English was that the English teachers were much more interesting and excited about their subject matter, particularly my senior year English teacher.

I always make a point of telling all my students that I am personally interested in the material and try to act that way (which isn't hard, usually). It's a silly thing, perhaps, but I think it makes a difference to some.

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