Showing us the way forward . . .

Lightcliffe C of E School computers - left to right Elissa Cox, Sam Oxley and Gavin Lord - 27 June 1994
Lightcliffe C of E School computers - left to right Elissa Cox, Sam Oxley and Gavin Lord - 27 June 1994

I remember visiting Brighouse High School many years ago where a chance meeting with the late John Wildman introduced me to something that would change my outlook and life towards the world of work.

John was a well respected teacher at both Eastfield School and Brighouse High.

It was John who invited me to look at some new technology the school had on trial.

It was a computer but not just any old computer, because back then there was no such thing as ‘just any old computer’, they would be either new or newer. I looked at it and John was very enthusiastic. He then produced a silver disk and told me this was a compact disk or CD.

John pressed a button and a draw opened up on the front of the box and he slipped the disk into the draw. After pressing a few more buttons and clicking something called a mouse, a picture appeared on the screen – of a wild animal.

He then asked me to name any animal but John wanted me to be imaginative. Let’s try an Aardvark, he suggested.

Well I had heard of one but had no idea what one looked like. The click of a button and hey presto a picture of this strange creature was on the screen with all the information you needed to know about it.

Now if that was magic John then asked me what kind of noise they make but before I could answer the look on my face probably gave him the answer that I had not got a clue. The click of another button and the sound came through of an Aardvark in the wild.

It was plain to see that John was very excited about this new machine. ‘This is the way forward Chris’. Whilst I did not dismiss what he said completely I did need a little bit more convincing.

Schools did have computers back in those days but it was the old BBC type and many junior schools that I visited back in the 1980s had just the one computer which for security reasons had to be wheeled into what many schools referred to as the safe room.

How things have changed since those days. According to some of the older learners who have been to one of my computer courses for older beginners you have to try and keep up with technology and learn the new language to keep up with the grandchildren!

In this featured photograph which dates back to June 1994 at Lightcliffe C of E School, three young students are finding their way round one of the early school computers and in those days all three had to share where now a day’s many would have one each.

These three former Lightcliffe students (left to right) Gavin Lord, Sam Oxley and Elissa Cox could not have dreamt that one day they would use a computer as an everyday part of life. But even more fascinating for them would be that the same computer facility would be used on another gadget called a mobile phone.