Montoya & Associates
Animated Programs Introduces ToonTalk
Revolutionary Software Teaches Kids Computer Programming
For Immediate Release:
SAN MATEO, California - January 11, 1999 - Animated Programs today announced the release of ToonTalk™, an educational computer software product that enables kids to learn and use computer programming.
ToonTalk is a new way of constructing, debugging and running programs. In ToonTalk, programs are not constructed by typing any text or by assembling pictures. They are built by taking actions in an interactive animated world. Familiar objects like birds, robots, trucks, and bike pumps are the only programming tools needed. ToonTalk makes programming easy for children to understand by making programming tangible and game-like. While learning how to program, children will face challenging puzzles, express their creativity, learn new ways to solve problems, and most of all have fun!
Learning to Program
Many educators question the value of teaching programming, because it is hard to learn and hard to do. Now, with ToonTalk, both children and adults can learn to program simply by learning the behavior of familiar objects and using them to create their own programs. ToonTalk includes a new way of learning programming – by playing a game. In the game, players volunteer to help an injured Martian named Marty repair his spaceship. In order to help Marty, they need to solve a sequence of interactive puzzles that gradually introduce programming constructs and techniques. The users are also introduced to familiar objects such as boxes, houses, roads, robots, vacuum cleaners, etc. and how they work within ToonTalk. The first three puzzles introduce numbers, addition and boxes (data structures). The fourth puzzle starts the introduction of familiar objects such as a magic wand and houses. By the eighth puzzle, the player will use robots to make the first actual program. At any time during the puzzles if a child is confused or needs help, Marty is ready and willing to offer hints or complete directions if necessary. ToonTalk also includes narrated programming demonstrations that show how to build programs.
ToonTalk was developed specifically for children and provides three fundamentally different ways for children to learn:
A puzzle game – a sequence of puzzles which gradually introduce techniques for building programs
Demonstrations – narrated demonstrations of various construction and debugging techniques
ToonTalk is a general purpose programming language. It has a property called "universality" so that in principle any program can be created in ToonTalk. The majority of programs that children enjoy creating are games, such as Pong, PacMan, Break Out, Missile Command, etc. They can also create animations, mathematical explorations, programs that generate sentences, and simulations. Once children have created their programs, they can share them with others over the Web. ToonTalk generates Java source code that is equivalent to what a child has created in ToonTalk. They can then run their program as an applet in a Web browser.
Designed for Children
In designing a programming language specifically for children, care was taken not to diminish the power of programming. The underlying language of ToonTalk is based upon years of research by a group of computer scientists at Xerox PARC. Children master ToonTalk by understanding the program’s equivalents to communication channels and concurrent process synchronization, such as: birds take messages to their nests, and robots will wait for something to arrive in a nest before doing what they are trained to do. Children won’t even realize that by understanding ToonTalk birds and robots, they are learning how to program.
Pricing and Availability
ToonTalk is currently available on CD-ROM for an introductory price of $49.95. The product is available by calling 1-800-317-9830 or by visiting www.toontalk.com. The CD-ROM includes both a Windows 3.1 and a Windows 95/98/NT version. A free 30-day trial version is available at www.toontalk.com. ToonTalk is also published in Sweden by Ekelunds Forlag AB (www.ekelunds.se) and published in the rest of Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, and Malaysia by Logotron, a division of Addison Wesley Longman (www.logo.com).
About the creator of ToonTalk
ToonTalk was created and built by Ken Kahn, an MIT computer science Ph.D. with over 20 years of experience in designing programming languages at Xerox PARC and various universities. In 1992, Kahn left Xerox PARC to found Animated Programs. Kahn received a patent for animated user interfaces for computer program creation, control, and execution for the technology underlying ToonTalk.
About Animated Programs
Animated Programs, based in San Mateo, California was founded in 1992 with the mission to make computer programming child’s play. The company’s first product offering is ToonTalk, a software program that makes programming fun and easy to learn.
All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
home | search | purchase | manual | news | info | faq | support | downloads | press | contact us