Apple's early strategy, in the 1980s, was to pursue the education market. They, effectively, created the market for classroom computers. It was considered quixotic to have third graders using computers - until Apple popularized the graphical user interface. Creating computers that even little kids could use - which earned it the ire of nerds everywhere - became a core value of Apple. Steve Jobs called it "human engineering" - that the computers would be "natural extensions of their owners."
By 1985, Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple. He immediately founded NeXT, a computer company focused on the higher education market. He had the original idea while working for Apple and talking to a biology professor who wanted a "workstation" that could display, visually, the results of expensive experiments without having to actually perform the experiments. Steve Jobs was taken with the idea; with his characteristic creativity he made a powerful computer with innovative design and software.
The NeXT was not a commercial success due to its high price, but it had a huge influence. Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web on a NeXT computer. The innovations in software are now standard across the industry. And Apple acquired NeXT in 1996 (its innovations would become a part of almost every future product it made), and reinstalled Steve Jobs as the CEO of the company he founded.
He gave an interview in 1996 about his return, and the reporter asked him about the education market.
"I used to think that technology could help education. I've probably spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet. But I've had to come to the inevitable conclusion that the problem is not one that technology can hope to solve. What's wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology. No amount of technology will make a dent. Its a political problem."
He went on, of course, to turn Apple around from a struggling company to one having the highest market capitalization in the world.
There is an enormous amount of enthusiasm around instructional technology and MOOCs and how these are all going to transform education. But a review of the most influential technology company in history reveals that we may have the question backwards. What we should be asking is: how can education transform technology?
I'm an entrepreneur and I teach math, history, economics, and fitness. I'm looking for arguments.