Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Apple names 'computer bus man' Alex Townsend as Mac innovator

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Media captionMr Townsend has taught thousands of Manx children about the internet over the past 16 years

A man who installed Apple Macintosh computers on a bus to teach Manx children about the internet has been named as one of the computer giant's leading innovators.

Alex Townsend, known as "computer bus man", is one of a list of "pioneers" making a "profound impact" with the computers in the last 30 years.

The list was issued to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first Mac.

Mr Townsend said being included was "quite remarkable".

He added that when he was emailed about being included, he "thought it was spam".

"When I followed it up I couldn't believe it. It is a tremendous tribute."

Others recognised include the renowned architect J├╝rgen Mayer H, musician Moby, fashion photographer Nick Knight and Nike designer Tinker Hatfield.

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Image caption Mr Townsend said most people thought the project "would only last six months"

In the 1990s, Mr Townsend was teaching at an island secondary school when he came up with the idea of converting a decommissioned bus into a mobile classroom to educate children about the internet.

An Apple spokesman said his idea was a "stroke of brilliance".

'Pretty accurate'

On its launch in 1998, the bus was hailed as a "state-of-the-art facility to take computer education into the 21st century".

The transformation took nine months to complete with the backing of the Isle of Man Department of Education and Manx Telecom, who sponsored the project.

Catherine Barham, who was 10 when she became one of the first to use the bus, said Mr Townsend had been "ahead of his time".

She said she "hadn't even heard of www" at the time.

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Image caption The bus still tours the island's schools

"I've still got my 'I've seen the future' badge' and looking at the power of the internet today, it was pretty accurate."

The bus, with its 23 computers, continues to visit all the island's primary schools, with Mr Townsend still being the man to "drive it, vacuum it, paint it, blow the tyres up, put diesel in and teach the lessons".

He added that most people "thought it would only last six months" when he started the project.

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