IBM and Little Tikes Announce Fun and Learning Computing Product for Kids

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NEW YORK CITY - 23 Apr 1998: - IBM and The Little Tikes Company, a subsidiary of Rubbermaid Incorporated, today introduced the Young Explorer fun and learning computer center -- an all-in-one computing solution for early childhood centers, preschools, elementary schools, libraries and other settings where young children learn and play together.

Under the terms of their agreement, IBM will provide the computer and the customer service and support, along with educational software from its Edmark subsidiary. Little Tikes will manufacture the furniture components and offer the entire integrated solution through its sales and distribution network.

This first-of-its-kind, all-inclusive unit, for kids ages three to seven, will be available for educational, institutional, and commercial customers early this summer, and will be jointly branded by both IBM and Little Tikes. Approximate price is $2399.

Combining leading-edge technology from IBM, durable, creative furniture design from Little Tikes and award-winning educational software for kids from Edmark, Young Explorer learning center features all of the components -- computer, software, furniture, technical support and service -- sensibly integrated in one product.

The learning center offers childcare professionals with little or no computer experience a single-source solution that brings the benefits of educational technology within reach of preschoolers.

The unit's powerful, network-ready computer comes with multimedia features, an internal CD-ROM drive, 14-inch color monitor and integrated speakers.

"IBM is committed to encouraging learning and fun through the use of computers," stated Jim Firestone, General Manager, IBM Consumer Division. "The product we have developed with Little Tikes is a curriculum-based, cost-efficient solution for environments where children might not otherwise have access to educational technology. We believe that it offers a fun and engaging platform from which teachers and child care providers can challenge young minds and allow them to explore at their own pace."

"The agreement between Little Tikes and IBM is an example of the kind of leap in product development that is possible when industry leaders put their creative visions and market know-how together," said Wolf Schmitt, Rubbermaid Incorporated, Chairman and CEO. "This learning center will set new standards for excellence in the educational technology market."

The companies are also working together to develop computer offerings for the consumer market.

Fun for Kids, Easy on Adults

Young Explorer learning center delights children with its whimsical Little Tikes design. The furniture is made from durable, colorful plastics, and is engineered to withstand a classroom of active children. The child-sized bench comfortably seats two, and the entire desk is scaled to just the right proportion to place the monitor at a child's eye level and the mouse and keyboard within easy reach of little arms.

A flat-surfaced, easy-clean "membrane" keyboard with large, brightly colored keys makes it easy for small fingers to choose buttons and for developing hands to learn the eye-hand coordination required to operate computers. A sturdy housing with locking cabinet doors keeps the computer, speakers and wiring fully contained and away from curious children.

Software for Kids, Curriculum for Educators

With the click of the mouse on the Young Explorer "KidDesk" user interface software program from Edmark, children can automatically start their choice of five pre-loaded Edmark software programs, and the KidDesk user interface provides kids with a separate, customized desktop. "Millie's Math House" and "Bailey's Book House" are among the featured titles, which are highly regarded by early childhood experts. All are rich with the interactive technology that inspires creativity, instills confidence, helps develop thinking skills, and actively engages kids in the learning process. Featuring colorful characters who become children's learning companions, Edmark software titles also provide two modes of instruction: Question and Answer for guided learning, and Explore and Discover for free, independent learning.

Edmark's supporting guides provide childcare professionals and teachers with a wide variety of cross-curricular activities that are educationally designed to be developmentally appropriate, while helping to engage youngsters and to maximize learning opportunities. Because the Young Explorer computer center is a fully functional IBM PC, any Windows-based software can be loaded, giving it flexibility to meet the needs of childcare providers.

Two Giants Help Today's Children

IBM creates, develops and manufactures the world's most advanced information technologies, including computer systems, software, networking systems, storage devices and microelectronics.

The Little Tikes Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rubbermaid Incorporated, is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of high quality, innovative juvenile products, including traditional toys that encourage activity, role playing and development among young children, juvenile furniture and play systems for commercial markets.

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IBM is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States or other countries or both. All other products are trademarks of, or registered trademarks of, their respective owners.

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