OTtrailmapWell, it’s been a busy couple of weeks up here in the land of sky blue water and the Oregon Trail!

What’s that you say! The Oregon Trail starts down near Independence, Missouri and wends its way through the prairies and mountains, ending up in Oregon City.

You say, “It’s got nothing to do with the Twin Cities. It’s the red path, not the green one!”


Well, we’re talking about a different Oregon Trail. We’re talking about the computer learning game, co-invented by Don Rawitsch and two teacher friends, developed by the Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation (MECC), and sold to hundred of thousands of teachers, kids and schools around the world to play and to learn.


Steve Jobs and the Apple II

Here’s a little known fact! MECC’s Oregon Trail, and other software, figured in the early success of Steve Jobs and his Apple II Computer, by his putting the power of the personal computer into classrooms everywhere. MECC supplied over 300 software packages to K12 schools around the world. Each MECC software disk was created with input from teachers and tested with students to assure the highest quality of computer-based instruction.

The most popular of all MECC software was Oregon Trail™, a learning simulation game that allowed individual or groups of players the opportunity to use their wits, their research, and their sound decision-making. It’s takes lots of good luck to make their long journey and survive a host of maladies from crossing swollen creeks to dying from dysentery.

No wonder Oregon Trail was inducted into the Hall of Fame. We at RE@L still think it was the greatest learning simulation game of all time. We also think RE@L will have some of our own new challengers to that honor in the near future.

So, in case you missed all our hoopla, here’s what’s happened since the Hall of Fame announcement was made on May 5, 2016:

  • First came the Associated Press Release from the Strong Museum Hall of Fame. Here’s the quote from the Museum Director: “The Oregon Trail is perhaps the oldest continuously available video game ever made, but more importantly, it pioneered a blend of learning and play that showcases the valuable contribution games can make to education.” 
  • WVHoFInduction_050516_121SMALL-1Next was an announcement from Strong Museum on their own website. Note RE@L’s Don Rawitsch accepting the award for his major role in the creation of Oregon Trail in the photo on the right. 
  • Our first report on the press pickup of the Museum’s AP Press Release came from alert family members in Oregon (ironically) we saw OregonLive.com and their story on Oregon Trail.
  • RE@L then released our own RE@L Blog page, giving more of the background on this key award.
  • We were thrilled to see our Don Rawitsch tell the story behind Oregon Trail on the Strong Museum Press Release (scroll to the bottom and click on Don’s video).
  • Our local Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) reporter, Nancy Yang, was on the ball and among the first to tell our local story of international interest to gamers everywhere. Click on the link to see her fine story.

UnknownThe next day, Don Rawitsch was a guest of host John Hines on our local, clear channel radio, WCCO. Listen to this interesting interview on how Oregon Trail happened in Don’s own words. Just click the arrow on the left, below:

  • Here’s another audio interview from another one of the OT game’s creators, Paul Dillenberger,  excerpted from their Oregon Public Broadcasting website; Click here to hear it.
  • Our local newspaper, “The St. Paul Pioneer Press,” featured a Letter to the Editor on the topic.
  • Our RE@L Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest also carried the stories and followup.

We fully expect there will be more news on this already great news!


Jeff and father, Don Rawitsch

RE@L congratulates the former MECC Oregon Trail team for their induction into The Strong Museum’s Video Game Hall of Fame. 

Proud of his father’s role in Oregon Trail, son Jeff Rawitsch helped with the Oregon Trail nomination. Here he congratulates his father in the photo on the left.

RE@L is on the same kind of pioneering trail to software greatness that MECC was, and now with even more exciting K12 learning software to come.

There’s more excitement on the new RE@L Trail!


Please email your comments or questions to:  comments@realexperiencesatlife.com

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Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.