The end of an era as the computer bus man retires


Artwork - Laura Bowles / Isle of SocialArtwork - Laura Bowles / Isle of Social

Artwork – Laura Bowles / Isle of Social

So that’s it – the end of the school year, and what a whirlwind it’s been. And now, just to rub more salt into the wound that is 2020, we turn our attention to the news that Mr Alex Townsend – aka the computer bus man – has retired.

Okay, so technically Alex retired back in March, but it’s always a good time to share some Gef recognition for the icons that put the Isle of Man on the map, and Alex is certainly one of them.

Mr Townsend is the brains and manpower behind the iconic computer bus which has toured the Island for over 20 years, teaching young people about the wonders of the digital world. 

The computer bus is a fond memory for many Millennials and Gen-Z islanders alike, with an estimated 100,000 students having visited the mobile classroom since its launch in 1998. For some, it was the first time they had used a computer and Alex explained that very few people knew what the internet was back then. Sometimes he was teaching the basics, such as explaining what ‘www dot’ meant, how to use a mouse and just wtf that screen was in front of them. 

Once students graduated from the basics, and as technology evolved, Alex’s lessons developed to include computer software such as Paint and the OG Sims build mode, Sketchup! 

Alex was your primary school’s cool uncle, he always had the best Macintosh tech on the bus, with around 23 computers available at any given time. In 2014, Apple listed Mr Townsend as one of the “pioneers” to have made a “profound impact” with their Macintosh computers in the 30 years prior, dubbing the computer bus as a “stroke of brilliance”. We agree, Apple, we agree.

We’ve come a long way since the computer bus opened its doors back in the late 90s, with the likes of AI and 5G becoming the norm in our modern world.

Speaking to the IOM Gov earlier this year, Alex said

“I’ve loved visiting the Island’s primary schools all these years and seeing the excitement and curiosity. I drive the bus, vacuum it, paint it, blow the tyres up, put diesel in and teach the lessons, so I think my nickname ‘computer bus man’ is pretty accurate.”

After 22 years of blissful service, Alex made his final computer bus visit to Sulby Primary School on March 3rd before putting the bus into ‘not in service’ mode to mark the end of an era *dramatically wipes tears from face*. 

We’re sure you’ll join us in thanking Alex for his commitment and we wish him the best of luck for the future! If you’re wondering what’s next for him, picture Alex touring the UK and Europe in his campervan (once the pandemic calms down) and yes, Alex has confirmed he will in fact have an iMac in his camper. 

Do you have any fond memories of Alex and the computer bus? We’d love for you to share them in the comments!

One thought on “The end of an era as the computer bus man retires”

  1. All the kids loved going on the bus. The teachers loved it too and picked up lots of new tricks to teach back in the classroom. Alex was dedicated to teaching children the most up to date ICT lessons they could have. When we went away on residential trips it showed as the centre always commented on how advanced our children were compared to the children from England and Wales. Enjoy your retirement Alex you have definitely earned it well done 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏 Helen

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