grindstone wrote: "New" doesn't necessarily mean "better", and outdated or not, IMHO for h4tt3n's purpose the parallel port (if available) is still the best solution.
Good or bad the reality is the next generation will have to learn to use the hardware that exists today and that includes the USB port unless you want to build your own computer (which is essentially what the Arduino is) without having to worry about a multitasking operating system getting in your way. If a student ever gets into microprocessors they will learn all that stuff we had to know back in the good old days.
So I would say the best solution is to use what we have today to give the next generation the skills they need.
Just as an exercise I am attempting to use the Arduino to act like a parallel port to a FreeBASIC program. You just have to write your own FreeBASIC functions to imitate the OUT and IN QBASIC commands just as you can using the K8055 board. I don't know if it is possible to just use the FT232R chip to do it in a more direct fashion.
http://www.ftdichip.com/Support/Documen ... FT232R.pdf
The Arduino uses this circuit which you can use to make your own Arduino,