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May 26, 1982 - Image 10

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1982-05-26

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Page 10-Wednesday, May 26, 1982-The Michigan Daily
WHIZ KID HOPES FOR ELECTRONIC RICHES
Libraries may get pay- computers

By The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO-Unemployment
and recession may be plaguing the
country. But in Silicon Valley, another
whiz kid has his sights on making a for-
tune off computers.
Kim Cohan may be past his prime as
a prodigy-he's already 18-but he is
one of a legion of would-be empire
builders in the heart of the nation's
computer empire south of San Fran-
cisco. Their heroes are Steven Jobs of
Apple, James Treybig of Tandem Com-
puters and W. J. Sanders III of Advance
micro Devices, all young millionaires.
But Cohan does not want to build
computers-he wants to install coin-
operated personal computers in public
libraries across the country. Personal
computers soon will be as commom in
libraries as books, microfilm and
photocopiers, the high school dropout
predicts.
COHAN SET UP Micro Timesharing
last year, enlisted a few friends to work
for a share of the profits and became
president of his third company. The
other two, begun when he was 16 and
living in Malvern, Ark., are now defun-
ct.
In the last two years, more than a
million new companies were incor-
porated and almost 25,000 businesses
failed. But Cohan says those odds do not
dampen his spirits. This time he thinks
he has a winner and a chance to get
rich.
Cohan's first installation of an Apple
II computer and printer will be in the
Salinas public library, and he says he
has signed "letters of intent" with 15
other California and Oregon libraries.
He believes there is a market for his
machines in 1,500 libraries from Los
Angeles to Boston. Other companies
also have started up with the same
idea.
"WE'RE HITTING the market at
exactly the right time," Cohan says.
"People are interested in computers
and we can offer a service a lot of them
need. I can see this becominga stan-
dard thing in libraries.
"It's almost impossible for a rational
Computer
By The Assoiated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa.-Camper's
checklist: Sneakers, pocket knife,
compass, backpack, blue jeans, com-
puter chips and floppy discs.
Computer chips and floppy discs?
Absolutely, because the summer of '82
will see thousands of youngsters across
the nation in special computer camps,
which are popping up like so many
pocket calculators during a math quiz.
From California to Cape Cod,
Wisconsin to Texas, camp directors are
teaming up computer programs with
sing-alongs, weenie roasts and mnoun-
tain bikes.
AND THIS KIND of high-tech cam-
ping doesn't come cheap. Two-week
sessions at residential camps range
from $650 to nearly $800 for computer
classes and a variety of activities, in-
cluding sailing and bicycling.
For the budget-conscious, there are
computer day camps and summer
programs at many of the nation's
colleges, high schools and science cen-
ters.
Arthur Michaels of Computer Camps
International says he has had more
then 8,000 inquiries from across the
nation and17 countries about his camps
in Wisconsin, Texas and New Engijqs

4

AP Photo.
KIM COHAN, 18, hopes to begin an electronic empire with Micro Timesharing, a company dedicated to bringing pay-
computers into local libraries.
librarian to turn this down, because the receivable program, a mailing list and an advertising agency in Salinas.
horizons it opens up . . . What we're program, a word processing program His parents divorced in 1969 and two
looking at is bringing the computer for composing text and instructions to years later his father died.
down to where regular people can use teach a person how to use the computer. "My parents were able to give me a
it. We're taking an expensive machine SOME LIBRARIES already have fantastic upbringing and I know what
and making it inexpensive. You can use their own personal computers for it's like to have money. I can draw on
a $3,000 computer for a dollar." public use, but Cohan says one of his their contacts, but much of the wealth
Micro Timesharing keeps 95 percent selling points is maintenance. has been dissipated, so I have to rely on
of the revenue from the computers, "We have a unique system ... where my own," he says.
which run for 20 minutes on a $1 token, we will airfreight to the library a new Cohan moved to his old home in
and the libraries keep the other 5 per- computer . . . ," Cohan says. "The Salinas last summer to start Micro
cent. The machines have to pull in at library gets a new machine within 24 Timesharing. Once he had seed money,
least $45 a month to make a profit. hours and sends the broken machine by selling some furniture, he bought
"I DON'T SEE the computer as an back to us. five Apple Its and started lining up
income producer for the library," says "We have an agreement with a library contacts.
John Gross, the Salinas library direc- teacher at Hartnell College, one of the "I have been doing it all alone," he
tor. "It's just another convenience for few colleges that has a class to teach says. "Some of the largest companies
the public on the level of the people expressly how to fix Apples. today started out on a shoestring. Your
photocopier. It's an extension of the Either the students fix the machines or typical successful entrepreneur started
library's role of making information we send them back to Apple, which out with his back against the wall."
and ideas available to the public." guarantees a one-day turnaround." Cohan still has little more than an
Small businesses, students and COHAN SAYS HE is no computer idea, but he dreams of creating a
budget-minded families are the most genius, rather he is a born and bred business to rank with the biggest.
likely users of the rental computers, capitalist. His parents, John and "That sounds awfully egotistical, but
Gross says. Rovena Cohen, built a broadcasting I hope I can do something like that, or
'Among the 20 floppydisks that come business with two television and two even match what my parents at-
with the computers are an accounts radio. stations plus 20 cable systems tained," he says.
camps offer more than just camping

I

4

'When we first started, I'd say we really got the
eggheads ... Now we're attracting the all-around
kid, not just a math or computer genius.'
-Mike Flaks

"IT'S NOT JUST a United States
phenomena. It's sweeping the world,"
said Michaels, who's planning to ex-
pand from 30 campers last year to 3,000
this season.
In hot competition for those Pac-Man
champs and computer wizards is Atari,
Ind. A newcomer to camping, the com-
puter game king is opening camps in
Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Califor-
nia and Wisconsin. The company also is
considering underwriting day camps
for inner city youngsters at the Capital
Children's Museum in Washington,
D.C.
National Computer Camps in Connec-
ticut is the UNIVAC of computer cam-
ping-it was the first and destined to be
copied.
MIKE FLAKS, administrative direc-
tor, was running specialty sports cam-,
five years;ago when anzacquaintan e

suggested there should be a summer
place for non-jocks.
"When we first started, I'd say we
really got the eggheads," Flaks said.
"You know, the kids with horn-rimmed
glasses. Now we're attracting the all-
around kid, not just a math or computer
genius."
Computer camps accept young
people from ages nine to 18. About 70
percent of the applicants are boys, but
directors say more girls are applying
each year. Instructors are college com-
puter majors or high school and univer-
sity teachers.
THE CAMPUS USE A variety of
home computers from firms such as
Texas Instruments, Commodore, Atari,
IBM and Apple.
"It's really an offshoot of the
education market, which we've been in-
to since the very beginning," said Apple
spokesman Stan DiVaughn.. ,,. ..

The firm has donated close to $1
million in computers to schools across
the United States, hoping to lure young
consumers who will remember Apple
when the family shops for a home com-
puter.
EACH CAMP STRIVES for distin-
ction. Marist College Computer Camp
in New York offers tours of West
Point's computer center and an IBM
plant, while Computer Camp Inc.,
based in Santa Barbara, Calif., delights
campers with R2D2-type robots.
At Computer Camps International,
all youngsters get a dose of computer
ethics. Director Michaels decided to
add a session on copyright laws and
ethics after he paid $300 for a computer
list that showed the incomes of the
parents of prospective campers.
"I began to think about it: What right
does some computer have to hold all
that information?" Michaels said.
"Computers have the capability of rob-
bing us of some of our individuality and
rights."
Some camps structure computer
classes and let campers experiment in
their free time. Another holds three-
hour sessions in the morning, "then we
virtually lock the doors and kick 'em
outside," said a camp spokeswoman.

4

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