Producer of The Oregon Trail Donates Collection to The Strong

The Strong News Release
NEWS RELEASE
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 • 585-263-2700 • museumofplay.org

June 23, 2016

For Immediate Release

Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365, srhinewald@museumofplay.org

Noelle McElrath-Hart, 585-410-6325, nmcelrath@museumofplay.org

Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation
(Producer of The Oregon Trail)

Donates Collection to The Strong Museum

ROCHESTER, New York—A group of former employees from the Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC)—including Don Rawitsch, co-creator of The Oregon Trail; Dale LaFrenz, co-founder and president; and Susan Schilling, vice president for product development—recently donated an extensive collection of materials to The Strong museum documenting the history of the pioneering company from 1973 to 1996. The collection includes hundreds of pieces of software, internal documents, and press clippings that illuminate the ways that MECC integrated its educational products into school curricula around the nation.

“MECC was a leading producer of educational games, played a prominent role in helping schools integrate computers into classroom learning, and produced the most recognized, most influential educational game of all time, The Oregon Trail,” says Jon-Paul Dyson, director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “Because of this influence, The Oregon Trail was inducted into The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame earlier this year.”

Started in 1973 as a consortium of educational systems for providing computing to classrooms throughout Minnesota, MECC operated the first statewide mainframe timeshare computer for classroom use and later initiated the first statewide school purchase contract for personal computers.  The company created a collection of more than 300 software titles that became part of the curricula of schools nationwide, including an enhanced and popularized version of The Oregon Trail educational game, which went on to sell more than 65 million copies.

“MECC lasted more than two decades, evolving from state service to private company, and several generations of its talented staff members went on to found and populate other educational  technology companies,” says LaFrenz. “In the process, MECC influenced the education of millions of children in the United States and elsewhere. MECC alumni everywhere are honored to work with The Strong to create this collection of products, documents, and artifacts that will ensure the curation of the MECC legacy.”

The Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation Collection (1968–2011) includes 150 pieces of software created by MECC; internal documents, such as training manuals, internal reports, videos, photographs, and more describing the company’s policies, procedures, projects, and personnel; as well as extensive press clippings describing the company and its impact on games and education. The artifacts, which will be available to researchers and some for future display, enhance the museum’s extensive archival collection of materials documenting the computer games industry, especially complementing other major collections dealing with educational software such as Brøderbund, Living Books, and the Warren Buckleitner Collection.

About The Strong

The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to the history and exploration of play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play and houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play. 

About the International Center for the History of Electronic Games

The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) collects, studies, and interprets video games, other electronic games, and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography. As a result of ICHEG’s efforts, The Strong’s collection of video games, other electronic games, and game-related historical materials is the largest and most comprehensive public assemblage in the United States and one of the largest in the world.