In the fall of 1980 there was excitement in the air at Macon High School. The district was about to receive their very first computer.
Rich Bright of Macon was a sophomore at MHS and was ready to get his hands on the new computer.
"A few other guys and I got to take it out of the box," said Bright.
The new computer was a Apple II Plus, the second model of the Apple II series of personal computers.
"Jim Cerva was the principal at the time and as we were tearing in to it he said, 'This is pretty expensive boys, maybe you had better read the instructions first," laughs Bright.
The computer had 48K of RAM (random-access memory).
"A 5 megapixel photo that you would take with a digital camera now is 100 times more memory than that device had," said Bright.
The new computer was placed in the math department.
"I was in Jenny Webb's geometry class, and she sent about six of us to Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville to a two-day course taught by some of the professors," said Bright. "They were to teach us what we would need to know to help our classmates," said Bright.
"I was a typical kid, I was excited to go because it was going to be fun and I was going to get out of school for a couple of days," he laughs.
For Bright, the course turned out to be much more than that.
"After those two days I was hooked. I knew that it was what I wanted to do," he said. "Math was not my best subject, it doesn't come easy for me, but I loved computers enough to work hard at it."
And work hard he did. After graduating from MHS, he received his bachelors degree from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State) in Math/Computer Science. Bright has a masters degree in Teaching of Computer Programming from Northwest University in Maryville and had more than 30 hours of post-graduate work from Mizzou and Warrensburg.
He currently instructs programming and some networking classes at Moberly Area Community College and works with their network security.
Bright estimates that around 1.4 million computer programming jobs will be needed in the next few years.
"Overall we have not kept up with computer education in the last 20 years," he said. "Only about 2 percent of high schools offer computer programming classes. Most students come into my classes only knowing what they have learned on their own."
Bright compares computer programming to creating music.
"With the right tools and equipment there is a tremendous opportunity for creativity," he said. "And networking has changed the way people can share that creativity."
Page 2 of 2 - Bright says he sees many of his younger students relying on texting or emailing as their main form of communication.
"We have allowed that type of communication to replace relationships," he said. "Texting and emailing are nice, but they leave a definite gap in the connection you make with people. As they age, I have found my students to make more personal connections through telephones or Skype."
"There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon that we are just beginning to see," he said. "This job is as interesting as you want to make it, and I love it!"