This Week in Amherst History

This week 122 years ago, The Amherst Student reported that an unnamed junior was packing his bags and fearing the worst after an errantly tossed apple struck a passing professor in the head.

The anonymous junior was sitting in his room, “softly eating an apple and so deeply was he engaged in the pleasing task that he did not hear two professors coming beneath his window.”

Upon finishing the apple, the student tossed it out the window, under which a professor of chemistry happened to be walking. The projectile struck the professor squarely on the noggin.

The article was inconclusive on whether the apple was delicately flung from the window or whether it was hurled intentionally at the poor professor’s head. Nevertheless, the professor was quite enraged, and the student fled the school and “telegraphed to his friends to be prepared for the worst.”


An ominous article published in The Student 66 years ago this week bore the title, “German Hopes for Future Leadership Soar High as Chosen Youths Train in Universities.”

Upon having returned from a sabbatical in Germany where Adolf Hitler had recently seized power, Professor of German Otto Matthew-Zorn reported that so-called “selected” German youths were studying with remarkable determination.

“The German youth realizes that on them depends the refashioning of Germany from its present state of decay,” he explained. To ensure the success of their intellectual zeal, “no other political party or adverse ideas can be allowed to exist for fear of possible corruption of pure Nazi ideas in the youth.”

After giving an account of the German upper-level school system, the article attempted to weigh in on the causes of the newfound surge in youth dedication, suggesting that a Germany that was too weak militarily would instead succeed academically.


Sixteen years ago this week, The Student marked the College’s purchase of 15 IBM personal computers. Along with computer classes in the newly opened Seelye Mudd computer center, the addition promised to be a boon for students: “This will just be the beginning of a lifelong relationship for [the students] with the computer,” the article reported.

The growing importance of computers in the workplace prompted this move. “Because personal computers are being used in all aspects of today’s market, it is a tremendous advantage for our students to be able to learn how to use them while they are here at Amherst,” reported The Student.

Amherst’s purchase brought the grand total up to 25 PCs, which was ahead of many other schools at the time. The cutting-edge IBMs were used solely for word processing, but in the future they were intended to aid in “computational work, spread sheets and data-base management.”