Omar Wasow: How a $10 Computer Changed My Life

BlackPlanet co-founder Omar Wasow recently spoke at TEDxBoston. The topic of conversation? How his parents decision to get him a Commodore VIC-20, instead of an Atari changed his life and inspired him to become a programmer. For those of you that might need a quick history lesson, the VIC-20 is an 8-bit home computer and one of the first inexpensive color computer models. It was $100 back then, but can be purchased for $10 now.

“It was a limited computer, 1MHz, 5K, but it was the perfect sandbox for a kid to learn to program.”

Wasow began creating rudimentary programs that would begin his fascination with technology. From the lowly VIC-20, Omar started on a path that led him to become a techpreneur.

Watch the video to learn how the choosing the right hardware can mean the difference between becoming a creator and wielder of tech and a consumer and more importantly, how can the effect be massed produced.



MThelemaque says:

Support and structure — that's definitely what learners need.

But, the computer was $100 at the time. Why does the title say that this is a $10 computer? Is that how he titled the talk?

I think that's a little misleading because that low price makes it sound like computers are that accessible to people, and they're not that accessible for broke families.

I love the idea of open source tutors.

Kagem says:

Not really going to say anything cerebral except that Omar is well fit. That is all.

This is definitely a great story. Having worked with Omar, I've heard it, but it's fascinating hearing it packaged like this. He's a really great speaker. I really hear him too…fortunately one of my math teachers in HS convinced me to become a math major which got me interested in computers — programming on the Commodore 64 and being the only one who could navigate the Apple computer in the College Office, so I got to learn what college everyone was trying to go to before everyone else did.

It's funny, my 20 year old niece, meanwhile, has been on computers since she was like 5, but I see her as just a consumer and not a producer. In fact I have to trouble shoot everything on her machine for her and tell her shortcuts and quick ways of doing things. And she went to a computer integrated High School too (where computers were in each classroom). So yeah, she knows content creation, but not the tech. Which ends up making her more of a consumer.

This talk inspired me to revisit a business plan I put together in grad school to develop a digital learning institute for young girls in BK. Thanks as always Omar. And thanks BW20.

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