When programmable calculators are insufficiently inspiring, bring in a space-rescue or lunar-lander story to provide motivation:
Photo: Sergei Frolov/Soviet Digital Electronics Museum (" At a time when few Soviet households had personal computers, programmable calculators like the Elektronika B3-34 took on many roles.")
The Kon-Tiki serial was an instant hit, and the magazine soon became one of the most prominent forums for younger users of programmable calculators. The futuristic narrative of each chapter was combined with puzzles on the physical laws of space travel and tricks for programming the B3-34. But what kept readers reading was the dramatic plot and the novel’s focus on overcoming human and technological limits.
In September 1985, ninth graders all across the USSR began studying a new subject: Basics of Informatics and Computing Technology. The rollout of the compulsory course, which aimed to make programming a universal skill, was to be accompanied by new textbooks in 15 national languages, training for some 100,000 teachers, and a million computers for the 60,000 or so middle schools across the Soviet republics.
In August 1985, the Soviet science magazine Tekhnika Molodezhi began publishing a serialized novel about a pair of explorers trying to fly a lunar lander from the moon to Earth. Each installment included tasks to be worked out on a programmable calculator.