Monthly Archive: December 2013

BASIC My Dear Watson

I had missed David Brin’s Why Johnny can’t code way back in 2006. The main point is the lack of something like BASIC as a default program/learning tool included on every computer, as was the case for so long in the past. I can see how that could be a problem, leading to fewer kids gaining elementary knowledge of coding early. For my part, my first exposure to BASIC was on a friend’s Radio Shack computer in 1978. I somehow picked up a surprising amount without trying. Next I played with it on a similar computer someone my stepmother worked for had about 1982 – 1983. Might have seen it elsewhere, but don’t remember. Then I had a Radio Shack PC (Pocket Computer) I got for Christmas 1983, and it wasn’t good for much without using its abbreviated version of BASIC. For instance, using I instead of INPUT as part of its command set. 1K of bubble memory required being lean.

Somehow this was capped off by my ending up in Microsoft Visual Basic support, initially supporting VB3 and the final version of each of the DOS BASIC variants, then supporting each VB release through 6. At the end I was one of the two technical supervisors and ran the training.

In any event, it was in conjunction with seeing mention of Brin’s article above that I saw a pointer to Quite BASIC, and online answer the the lack he showcased. I didn’t dive into it, but thought it worth noting. I have kids who are liable to be interested in this sort of thing before you know it.