Skip to main content

Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC) collection

 Collection — Box: 1-9
Identifier: 2016.mecc
The Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC) collection is a compilation of six separate donations from Don Rawitsch (co-creator of The Oregon Trail), Laura Gilbert (former Human Resources Manager at MECC), Susan Schilling (former VP of Development at MECC), Mike Palmquist (former software designer and producer at MECC), Dale LaFrenz (co-founder of MECC), and R. Philip Bouchard (lead designer of The Oregon Trail and Number Munchers). The MECC collection includes materials related to the development of The Oregon Trail and other MECC educational computer programs, as well as various news articles, journals, photographs, floppy disks, VHS tapes, and more related to MECC throughout the late 20th century. Additional scope and content notes can be found within the Contents List section of this finding aid.

The Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC) collection has been arranged into six series, four of which have been further divided into subseries. The materials are housed in nine archival document boxes.

Dates

  • Majority of material found within 1973 - 1998
  • 1967 - 2015

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

At this time, audiovisual and digital files in this collection are limited to on-site researchers only. It is possible that certain formats may be inaccessible or restricted.

Please see The Strong's Digital Games Files Access Policy here .

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donors have not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, they have given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.

Extent

6.5 Linear Feet (9 boxes)

Abstract

The Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC) collection is a compilation of materials on the development of The Oregon Trailand other MECC educational computer programs, as well as various related news articles, journals, photographs, floppy disks, VHS tapes, and more. The bulk of the materials are dated between 1973 and 1998.

Historical Note

During the 1960s, a group of teachers at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education (including Dale LaFrenz) incorporated computers into classroom learning via teleprinters and mainframe computer time-sharing. Minneapolis/St. Paul-area school districts and the College of Education established Total Information for Educational Systems (TIES) to provide service, training, and software for computers, making Minnesota a leader in computer education by 1968. Following the success of TIES, the Minnesota state legislature established the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) in 1973. (Later, the company’s name changed to Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation.)

MECC originally coordinated and provided computer services to elementary and high schools in the state of Minnesota, and later, developed popular educational software for use in schools worldwide. In 1985, MECC became a public corporation, wholly owned by the State of Minnesota. The state spun off the company as a private corporation in 1991. MECC became a publicly traded company three years later, and it was acquired by SoftKey International (later The Learning Company) in 1996. MECC continued developing software but was shuttered in 1999.

MECC is best known for the successful computer program The Oregon Trail, originally developed in 1971 by three student teachers (including Don Rawitsch). Players of the game learned about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life while leading a group of settlers in covered wagons from Missouri to Oregon. The Oregon Trail remained extremely popular from the mid-1980s through the mid-2000s, releasing 15 different versions and spawning many imitations. (As the longest-published, most-successful educational game of all time, The Oregon Trail was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame in 2016.) MECC also released other popular educational software games, such as Number Munchers, Word Munchers, Math Munchers Deluxe, The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary, Spellevator, and more.

System of Arrangement

Series I: Don Rawitsch, 1977-2015

Subseries A: MECC internal materials
Subseries B: MECC-related printed materials
Subseries C: The Oregon Trail musical script

Series II: Laura Gilbert, 1982-1994

Series III: Susan Schilling materials, 1992-2007

Subseries A: MECC internal materials
Subseries B: MECC-related printed materials
Subseries C: Cassettes and tapes

Series IV: R. Philip Bouchard, 1968-1992

Series V: Dale LaFrenz, 1967-1997

Subseries A: MECC internal materials
Subseries B: MECC product inserts and advertisements
Subseries C: MECC-related printed materials
Subseries D: Dale LaFrenz materials
Subseries E: Photographs

Series VI: Mike Palmquist, 1982-1998

Subseries A: MECC market research
Subseries B: MECC-related printed materials
Subseries C: MECC program disks, manuals, and resources
Subseries D: Oregon Trail-related books
Subseries E: The Oregon Trail visual materials

Custodial History

The Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC) collection was assembled by The Strong using donations received from Don Rawitsch, Laura Gilbert, Susan Schilling, R. Philip Bouchard, Dale LaFrenz, and Mike Palmquist in 2016. The materials were accessioned by The Strong under Object IDs 116.1232, 116.1234, 116.1302, 116.1591, 116.1595, and 116.1669, respectively. These donors also contributed various MECC software and ephemera.

Related Materials

The Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC) at The Strong includes donations from Don Rawitsch, Laura Gilbert, Susan Schilling, Mike Palmquist, Dale LaFrenz, R. Philip Bouchard, Paul Wenker, and Loren Sucher. Among these related materials are trade catalogs, books, software titles, user/teacher guides, and other ephemera.

Revision Note

Finding aid edited in May 2019 to incorporate Object ID 117.5438.

Processed by

Robert Ramos, September 2016; Julia Novakovic, May 2019
Title
Finding Aid to the Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC) Collection, 1967-2015
Status
completed
Author
Robert Ramos and Julia Novakovic
Date
15 May 2019
Description rules
dacs

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

Contact:
The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.263.2700
585.423.1886 (Fax)