John Shermer, the founder of Lightwave, had some of his best ideas in borstal. He was teaching delinquent teenagers in Birmingham back in the 1980s. “I used to think software was some kind of lingerie,” he says.
Then he discovered the Acorn BBC Micro. “There was this kid, aged 16, put away for a double murder. He couldn’t read or write. He’d pick a fight rather than answer a question. But if you put him in front of a computer, his behaviour changed – for the better.”
If he got it wrong, he could start again. “He could fail without humiliation,” says Shermer when we meet up in London. The computer had infinite patience and it wasn’t judgemental.
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