In 2014 the last trace of the Albert Merrill School vanished as this ad on West 29th Street near 8th Avenue was painted over. The school promised training in computer tech on the state-of-the-art machines in the 1970s and 1980s.

The school was heavily advertised on local TV in commercials featuring pitchman Jimmy Randolph — who everyone seemed to recognize, though I didn’t. “Sir James” was a recording artist who also appeared in stage shows such as Guys and Dolls. Here Jimmy sings “Summertime” and “Miracle After Miracle.”

In this commercial, a young woman asks Mr. Randolph for directions to AMS at Columbus Circle (you can see some of the Coliseum, torn down in the late 1990s) and he takes her in a tour of the school. Note the phone number at the end with a CI interchange (stands for CIrcle).

As for Albert Merrill, long before he started a computer tech school, he invented a new form of shorthand writing. The school was later successfully sued for admitting clearly underqualified students that could not pass its courses. I’m not sure when it closed down.



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8 Responses to ALBERT MERRILL SCHOOL, Chelsea

  1. Gary Fonville says:

    I attended Haaren H.S., now John Jay College of Criminal Justice from 1967-1970, only a few blocks away from AM Institute. I remember that there was a branch of the Albert Merrill School on 60th Street, between Columbus Avenue and Broadway.

    Computers at that time was a total foreign concept for most people. It was something that was used in business or industry, not the home . Who would da thunk that we all carry around computers in our pockets or pocketbooks. They’re called cellphones.

  2. Kiwiwriter says:

    I’ll never forget those commercials…talk about 1970s cheesy.

  3. Gary says:

    I remember that commercial! We found a lot to goof on – the girl recognizing Jimmy Randolph, by name, as the school’s pitchman (I had no idea he had “real” fame as a singer), and where, when she asks about financial aid, Jimmy turns to the camera to answer the question instead of speaking to her. We also thought it would have been funny if the part where she asks how to get to the school was filmed right in front of the school, then Jimmy would have pointed it out to her and go all Sam Kinison on her for not knowing where she was.

  4. Anonymous says:

    their a bunch of nots short order cooks this is what society is made up of

  5. larry says:

    their a bunch of nots short order crooks of our society

  6. larry says:

    & thanks to all the job development since then…………….thank society

  7. larry says:

    class 1982 knowingly

  8. Jon says:

    I attended Albert Merrill Institute on 60th St just down from the Colisseum. It was Spring/summer of 1968, I think. We took some lessons in Central Park on nice days. One time, our instructor came back from lunch drunk. I dropped out soon after. The tuition loan was arranged by the school through Freedom National Bank in Harlem. It wasn’t a great school, but it wasn’t a scam either. I remember “Joe”, an older guy from New Jersey who was switching careers into the new field of computers. I hope Joe did ok.

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