Seymour Papert: The Mathematician Who Developed Logo, the First Programming Language for Children

Seymour Papert was a pioneering mathematician and computer scientist known for advancing the development of computer technology and for pioneering the use of computers in educational settings. He is best known for creating Logo, the world’s first programming language specifically designed for children.

Papert was born in 1928 in Pretoria, South Africa. He attended University of the Witwatersrand where he studied mathematics and completed a Masters of Science degree in 1952. After completing his doctoral degree at the University of Cambridge, he went on to teach at various universities, including MIT, where he worked alongside other computational theorists like Marvin Minsky. It was during his tenure at MIT that Papert developed Logo and helped define the field of computer science education.

Papert’s Contributions to Computer Science

As a mathematician and computer scientist, Papert’s impact on the development of computer technology is immeasurable. He was one of the leaders of the LOGO movement and the first to develop a programming language specifically for children. His work has been hugely influential in expanding the use of computers in educational settings. 

Here are some of Papert’s most influential contributions to the field of computer science:

1. Logo

In the late 1960s, Papert and Minsky worked together to develop Logo, the world’s first programming language specifically designed for children. Logo used interactive graphics, allowing students to create images by inputting commands on the computer. Logo enabled Papert and his team to create exercises and algorithms that would encourage the development of problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

2. MicroWorlds

One of Papert’s other projects was the development of MicroWorlds, an educational software program that encourages students to explore the use of computers to create and learn in a variety of domains. This software has become the standard for educational tools that encourage innovation, self-expression, and problem-solving.

3. Agentsheets

In the 1990s, Papert developed Agentsheets, a program designed to allow computer science students to create animated agents they could then control. Agentsheets was revolutionary because it allowed users to create characters with problem-solving characteristics, making it ideal for developing artificial intelligence algorithms.

In addition to Logo, Papert also wrote several influential books and articles, including Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas and The Children’s Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer.

The Legacy of Seymour Papert

Papert’s impact on the world of computer science and education is unparalleled. He was a pioneer in the development of interactive learning tools and was a strong advocate for the use of computers in educational settings. Papert’s legacy lives on through the use of Logo, MicroWorlds and Agentsheets, which are used in classrooms around the world.

Throughout his life, Papert worked to increase access to technology and develop tools that would expand the understanding of computers and their uses. He was a passionate advocate for computer science and its potential to revolutionize education and technology. Papert’s groundbreaking work continues to influence the field of computer science and education today.