The educational use of computers in the UK coincided with growing tensions between educators and government policy. This led to the imposition of a National Curriculum and policy that took scant account of research evidence or the views of professional educators. As a result of this unhappy coincidence, the UK failed to take early advantage of the educational benefits offered by this technology. The exploitation of the unique affordances of computers have seen a false dawn and dashed hopes but, slowly, a body of research has emerged that is now starting to identify where we should look and what we should do. However, the necessary changes would fundamentally alter the roles of teacher and learner within the educational system as well as government policy and this may go some way to explain government reluctance and the systemic inertia in the UK and elsewhere.