When I was younger, back in the heydey of the CD-ROM, when PCs were creeping into homes and Mac was still a plasticky beige nerdy brand, my father bought me and my sister some edutainment software. “Just Grandma and Me” and “Arthur’s Teacher Trouble”, produced by the very aptly named ‘Living Books’ company. I remember them so very well.

They were, at their very heart, interactive books on tape where children could follow text along to the dulcet tones of a narrator. They were obviously intended to help primary school pupils to read, but that’s not why I remember them. To me, the main appeal, and the reason I kept on going back to the programs, was in the interactivity. After each page had been read out, you could then click on various bits and bobs in the illustration. There were always so very many items that would spring to life, do a little animation, and play a little sound. What amazed me then, and still fascinates me to this day, was just how detailed these tableaus were, and how incredibly imaginative they could be. These events ranged from the simple (Radiator xylophone!) through the wonderfully bizarre and delightful (a tray of cookies that sang like a soul choir), through to the just plain brilliant (that recurring paper plane that had the awesome metal soundtrack). read more