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Joan Targ

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Joan Targ

Joan Fischer Targ (1938 – June 2, 1998) was an American educator who was an early proponent of computer literacy and initiated peer tutoring programs for students of all ages.

As a child, she bought her younger brother, Bobby Fischer, his first chess set and taught him how to play the game.

Proponent of computer education

Targ founded a number of programs to study the teaching of computer literacy, including programs in the Palo Alto Unified School District,[1][2] as well as the Institute of Microcomputing in Education at Stanford University.[1][3] Her educational techniques included the creation of peer tutoring systems whereby a student, trained by peers in a basic course in computer programming, would then tutor the next students. In the early 1980s she created and led a programs sponsored by Stanford University in which elementary school teachers were taught the basics of programming by high school students.[3][4][5] One focus of her work was bringing computer literacy to girls, senior citizens, and other groups that were underrepresented in computing.[6]

She coauthored the book Ready, run, fun: IBM PC edition with Jeff Levinsky.[7]

Childhood, family and personal life

Targ was born in Moscow, to Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, a German-born biophysicist,[8] and his wife Regina Wender Fischer, a Swiss born naturalized American citizen of Russian Jewish and Polish Jewish ancestry. Regina Fischer left Moscow because of the persecution of Jews in the 1930s, bringing her child with her to the United States. She spoke seven languages fluently and was a teacher, registered nurse and eventually a physician.[9][10] After living in several cities in various parts of the United States, in 1948 the family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Regina worked as an elementary school teacher and nurse. While they were living in Chicago, Targ taught her younger brother, future chess world champion Bobby Fischer, to play chess.[11][12]

Targ lived in Palo Alto, California, receiving a Masters degree in education from the College of Notre Dame in Belmont.[1] Her husband, Russell Targ, worked at SRI International as a parapsychologist, and her daughter Elisabeth Targ also became a parapsychologist.[13]

Joan Targ was noted for her activism for [12]

Targ died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 60 in 1998.[1][11][12]


  1. ^ a b c d .
  2. ^ .
  3. ^ a b .
  4. ^ .
  5. ^ .
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Files reveal how FBI hounded chess king
  9. ^ FBI watched chess genius and family. Fischer's mother suspected as spy November 18, 2002
  10. ^ Schach Nachrichten in German
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^ a b c
  13. ^ . This page from the preface quotes Martin Gardner writing in The Skeptical Inquirer in 2001: "William Targ's beliefs in the paranormal trickled down to his son Russell, and now they have descended on Russell's attractive and energetic daughter Elisabeth. Her mother, Joan, by the way, is the sister of chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer."

Additional sources

  • Anything to Win: The Mad Genius of Bobby Fischer, television documentary, produced by Frank Sinton and Anthony Storm
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