Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 326–337

From turtles to Tangible Programming Bricks: explorations in physical language design

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00779-004-0295-6

Cite this article as:
McNerney, T.S. Pers Ubiquit Comput (2004) 8: 326. doi:10.1007/s00779-004-0295-6


This article provides a historical overview of educational computing research at MIT from the mid-1960s to the present day, focusing on physical interfaces. It discusses some of the results of this research: electronic toys that help children develop advanced modes of thinking through free-form play. In this historical context, the article then describes and discusses the author’s own research into tangible programming, culminating in the development of the Tangible Programming Bricks system—a platform for creating microworlds for children to explore computation and scientific thinking.


Programming languages Microworlds Tangible user interfaces Education Children History of computing Construction toys Hands-on learning 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ChipWrights, Inc.WalthamUSA

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