My first fulltime university position was as a laboratory technician in the computer center of Herbert Lehman College, a recently founded institution of higher learning in the Bronx that was formerly Hunter College's Bronx Campus. My appointment started on January 1, 1970 and that day was the beginning of fifty plus years at six public colleges in the City University and State University of New York. I went on to hold positions as computer programmer, director, dean and senior vice president as well as adjunct instructor, professor and executive officer of a PhD program in urban education. In each of these positions, education technology played a part in much of what I did. In many ways, it helped shaped me professionally as I came to learn the importance of change and the ability to adjust to new situations and face new challenges. The adage 'the more something changes, the more it remains the same" is partly true; you change while a part of you remains. As I write this in the early part of 2020, I am a professor at Hunter College teaching in the graduate programs in the school of education, where a few months ago all of the courses were abruptly moved to fully online delivery, as New York City and the rest of the world began to battle the scourge which was the coronavirus pandemic as it infected tens of millions of people and killed millions.
Between 1970 and 2020, I worked within all types of digital environments from plug board computers to large mainframes, to emerging PCs, to the Internet, and to the latest iPhones and handheld devices. I have come to see that these fifty years weren't just about technology but about how events in the larger institutions with which I was affiliated as well as the broader society were integrated into a complex web of interactions that shaped and molded everything. They drove each other and I wanted to understand them all.
My purpose in writing The Computer Wasn't in the Basement Anymore.. is to share my insights, gained from my experience of fifty years, all of which involved some aspect of education technology, and included administrative, instructional and research activities. The title reflects how computer technology, once relegated to out of the way places such as basements, has blossomed with the ubiquity of the Internet, social networking, and smartphones. Computers are now everywhere in every room of every home, office, restaurant, industry, store, school, college, and in our pockets.