The Oregon Trail, MECC, and the Rise of Computer Learning

More than four decades ago, three Carleton College students invented a game that would change classroom learning. When student teacher Don Rawitsch asked, “Can’t we do something more with the computer in my history class?” to fellow seniors Paul Dillenberger and Bill Heinemann, the young men developed The Oregon Trail, a text-based game about United States westward expansion that Rawitsch later brought to the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (later Corporation). Soon, The Oregon Trail reached students across the state, and in the decades following the game, countless MECC educational software introduced generations of schoolchildren to a new, fun way to learn.

The Strong’s The Oregon Trail, MECC, and the Rise of Computer Learning online exhibit draws on unique artifacts and rare documentation from the museum’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) and its Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC) Collection to present the history of The Oregon Trail and the pioneers who created it and other groundbreaking educational software.

View the Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC) collection, 1967-2015 finding aid. See The Oregon Trail courtesy of the Internet Archive.