Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 22nd Nov 2016 23:00 UTC
General Development

When you have built your retro computer the chances are you’ll turn it on and be faced with a BASIC interpreter prompt. This was the standard interface for home computers of the 8-bit era, one from which very few products deviated. If you were a teenager plugging your family's first ever computer into the living-room TV then your first port of call after getting bored with the cassette of free educational games that came with it would have been to open the manual and immerse yourself in programming.

[...]

The trouble is, in the several decades since, 8-bit BASIC skills have waned a little. Most people under 40 will have rarely if ever encountered it, and the generation who were there on the living room carpet with their Commodore 64s (or whatever) would probably not care to admit that this is the sum total of their remembered BASIC knowledge.

10 PRINT "Hello World"
20 GOTO 10

If you have built a retro-computer then clearly this is a listing whose appeal will quickly wane, so where can you brush up your 8-bit BASIC skills several decades after the demise of 8-bit home computers?

When I was very, very young - I'm from 1984 - I did some very basic BASIC, mostly on an MSX, but I remember very little of it. BASIC programming didn't grab me as a kid, and as such, I never went down the programmer's path. Today, with an adult life with adult responsibilities, learning to program seems like such a daunting undertaking, for which I simply don't have the time.

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INPUT
by Vanders on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 00:04 UTC
Vanders
Member since:
2005-07-06

I still have a stack of INPUT magazines around here somewhere...

Reply Score: 5

RE: INPUT
by moondevil on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 10:18 UTC in reply to "INPUT"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Those magazines were great!

I have quite a few of them.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: INPUT
by Vanders on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 11:55 UTC in reply to "RE: INPUT"
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

Then good news! After I posted that I did some Googling, and found http://www.bombjack.org/commodore/magazines/input/input.htm

Reply Score: 4

Comment by Delgarde
by Delgarde on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 00:15 UTC
Delgarde
Member since:
2008-08-19

> Today, with an adult life with adult responsibilities, it seems like such a daunting undertaking, for which I simply don't have the time.

Eh, conceptually, it's not much different to using a Linux shell like Bash.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by Delgarde
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 00:38 UTC in reply to "Comment by Delgarde"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

> Today, with an adult life with adult responsibilities, it seems like such a daunting undertaking, for which I simply don't have the time.

Eh, conceptually, it's not much different to using a Linux shell like Bash.


Yeah I didn't mean learning BASIC; I meant learning to program. My blurb was a little unclear on that; fixed it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by Delgarde
by feamatar on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 00:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Delgarde"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

But programming is almost everything. I don't think that one should learn a compiled language to learn programming. I would assume a competent Word or Excel user should be able to write some simple scripts, and I think that is good enough. Programming should be done for the sake of getting things done in a more efficient way and not for the sake of programming. I am a Java developer by trade, but it was much better decision to write shell programs or put together a script or macro to get my job done in this past year because that was the easiest way to get the job done.

So Thom I can hardly imagine that you did not do something which can be considered programming and that you cannot program in some way.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Delgarde
by kwan_e on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 10:47 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Delgarde"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Surely there's some tedious task in your translation job that could be automated with some Office scripting.

Learning programming isn't hard. The hard bit is how to turn a complex task into a bunch of smaller self contained chunks. Other than syntax, the most debated aspect of programming is people's preferred style of breaking up complex tasks, when you get down to it.

Edited 2016-11-23 10:51 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by Delgarde
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 16:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Delgarde"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Yeah, I'd start with macros. Pretty simple to start with one small task and grow from there. Just remember to not send out documents with macros in them.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Delgarde
by pd1011 on Thu 24th Nov 2016 02:44 UTC in reply to "Comment by Delgarde"
pd1011 Member since:
2010-12-08

Bash has no graphics sound or colour the way say the zx spectrum did, so no it's not the same, it's also not instant on

Reply Score: 2

Good news for Dutch MSX-fans
by ml2mst on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 01:24 UTC
ml2mst
Member since:
2005-08-27

Dutch MSX-fans should check out this site: http://www.msxcomputermagazine.nl/

Most of the MSX Computer Magazine issues and the "Listing Books" are freely available as PDF files.

Happy nostalgic codekloppen ;-D

Reply Score: 3

RE: Good news for Dutch MSX-fans
by Ibrahim on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 02:40 UTC in reply to "Good news for Dutch MSX-fans"
Ibrahim Member since:
2016-11-03

Dear sir, would you be kind enough to translate codekloppen. I google it but all the sites are in Dutch. Don't want to use a translator, for fear of loosing the nuance of the meaning. Codekloppen, sounds cool, that's why I'm asking.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Good news for Dutch MSX-fans
by SWC01 on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 08:31 UTC in reply to "RE: Good news for Dutch MSX-fans"
SWC01 Member since:
2012-05-31

Code means code.
Kloppen translates to knocking, or in this case knocking your fingers on your keyboard... like typing.
Codekloppen is simply another way of saying 'writing code'. :-)

Edited 2016-11-23 08:32 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Good news for Dutch MSX-fans
by DeepThought on Fri 25th Nov 2016 13:26 UTC in reply to "Good news for Dutch MSX-fans"
DeepThought Member since:
2010-07-17

codekloppen ;-D


Codekloppen :-) I will remember this. As a German speaker it sounds like "bashing code" ;-)

Reply Score: 1

Commodore Basic
by Earl C Pottinger on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 04:25 UTC
Earl C Pottinger
Member since:
2008-07-12

I always found it strange that people found the built-in BASIC as limiting.

On my original PET 2001 computer expanded to 16K with a S100 Bus adapter I designed and built, I was able to write an Assembler, a LOGO to BASIC translator, starting code for a compiler for HYPER(my own language).

I wrote and sold a sales tracking program that I sold on that machine, and the program listing (style and docs) was the main reason I got a job at DROL Systems.

While at DROL I wrote a WYSIWYG text editor in MAI BASIC since the standard editor on that machine was using a line editor that just got on my nerves.

Once I moved to a C64 I used the info from the Transactor Magazines to call the BASIC routines directly from my assembler programs which saved a lot of programming effort.

In-fact, I wrote and sold a number of commercial programs in BASIC once I got my hands on a compiler for Commodore BASIC that speeded up my programs 2-4 times since it bypassed the interpreter.

I wrote and sold more than one copy of a condo management software that was written/compiled in BASIC for the Commodore 8032.

Also wrote and sold an inventory software for a boating building company. Note: While the program was in BASIC it did not need to be compiled to be fast enough (Hash Tables) to use.

I also wrote a number of other commercial programs in BASIC but those are above are the ones I know were used by a number of people for years before being replaced.

I also played around with COMAL-80 but never wrote anything that other people used in it.

Edited 2016-11-23 04:41 UTC

Reply Score: 3

BASIC isn't daunting....
by kryogenix on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 04:56 UTC
kryogenix
Member since:
2008-01-06

I wouldn't call traditional BASIC daunting. You can learn it in a couple afternoons. 6502 ASM on an Atari 8-bit where you have to pay attention to cycle timings and interact with the custom chipset properly was pretty daunting.

Traditional line-numbered BASIC was pathetically simple. Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. Without any programming knowledge it's actually pretty hard to appreciate the power and differences between various operating systems and hardware except from a truly superficial level.

Reply Score: 3

Basic was used for my first big programme
by shotsman on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 07:43 UTC
shotsman
Member since:
2005-07-22

Circa 1974. Yes that old.
As a student we had time on the Hatfield Polytechnic DEC-10 via a dialup acoustic modem and an ASR-33 teletype. [1]
We used Paper tape to load and save our work.

The programme was for coil spring deformation calculations. Part of my Mech Eng degree.

The basic used then was very much the 'Dartmouth Basic'. By Visual Basic came along, I'd moved onto a number of different languages including Coral-66 where I wrote part of a compiler.
VB was IMHO the worst of all worlds at the time.
I never got on with it.
Pascal was my language of choice at the time and when Deplhi arrived, any chance of me using VB went to zero.
I still develop apps for myself using Lazarus.

[1] Before that it was Punched cards on an ICL-1901a. I still have two decks of cards from Dec 1972.

Reply Score: 2

BASIC... Oh the memories!
by gilboa on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 08:04 UTC
gilboa
Member since:
2005-07-06

Back in 84 I wrote my first computer game (Simple racing game) on an aging Commodore VIC 20.
I later ported it later to a brand new C64.

With basic (and LOGO) I learned how to write code. 30 years+ later, I still do it for a living.

Sadly enough, I never wrote another computer game ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: BASIC... Oh the memories!
by ebasconp on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 15:44 UTC in reply to "BASIC... Oh the memories!"
ebasconp Member since:
2006-05-09

I still do it for a living.


Same for me.

I starting coding in BASIC in an Atari 130XE. I enjoyed all those days when you should save as much bytes as possible because your programs could not be larger than... 30000 bytes in the best scenario ;)

instead of:

10 PRINT "HELLO"
20 GOTO 10

you should write

10 PRINT "HELLO" : GOTO 10

that would save you 6 bytes, approx ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: BASIC... Oh the memories!
by gilboa on Thu 24th Nov 2016 11:55 UTC in reply to "RE: BASIC... Oh the memories!"
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

Forgot about the program size limit. Grr.
Try explaining that to a 25 y/o program that doesn't understand why you shudder when he tries to commit a 200 LOC module that carries with it 200MB in libraries...

- Gilboa

Reply Score: 3

"Modern" Spectrum BASIC IDE
by daedalus on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 09:09 UTC
daedalus
Member since:
2011-01-14

There is a modern re-implementation of the BASIC dialect used on the ZX Spectrum available for the PC. It comes with a full IDE with online help, and extends the language in a number of ways, but still keeps the core aspects of the 8-bit language intact. Well worth a look for anyone looking to brush up on their 8-bit BASIC skills.

http://everychildcancode.org/basin/

Reply Score: 2

Timex 2068 Basic
by moondevil on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 10:20 UTC
moondevil
Member since:
2005-07-08

Was my first Basic introduction, back in 1986.

Given that the Timex 2068 already a better sound chip than the 48K, the Basic sound demos for doing explosions were quite cool for a teenager.

Reply Score: 2

MSX
by romma on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 11:09 UTC
romma
Member since:
2016-09-22

Wow, MSX, the SpectraVideo thing was my first computer. My crowning achievement was to write a simple spreadsheet which could do basic math. I would change a number in a cell, and then I watched and waited for 20 minutes for it to recalculate the sheet. That's right, it was quicker to do it by hand, by a factor of 20! :-D
Ah, the days of being a rubbish BASIC programmer on 33 year old hardware.

Reply Score: 1

Accessibility
by sjeffree on Wed 23rd Nov 2016 15:58 UTC
sjeffree
Member since:
2013-03-12

"your first port of call after getting bored with the cassette of free educational games that came with it would have been to open the manual and immerse yourself in programming."

In those days, programming was immediately accessible to every user, out of the box, using the built-in BASIC, the manual that came with the device & no need to go scouring the web for API documentation, frameworks, IDEs, compilers, interpreters, etc., just to get started.

With all the power & flexibility available these days, I think we've lost the immediacy that we used to have.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Accessibility
by kwan_e on Thu 24th Nov 2016 01:03 UTC in reply to "Accessibility"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

With all the power & flexibility available these days, I think we've lost the immediacy that we used to have.


That's not true. Today, the web browser is our immediate programming environment. All you need is one HTML file, and a JS file and you've got at your hands a complete programming environment with 2D, 3D, sound, video, file and device input capabilities. You don't even need a web server and the results are instantaneous.

Today, whenever I need a custom desktop application, I just whip one up with one HTML file with D3.js and it gets me most of the way there.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Accessibility
by bugjacobs on Thu 24th Nov 2016 12:31 UTC in reply to "RE: Accessibility"
bugjacobs Member since:
2009-01-03

Yeah but its still not the same single task environment, and that makes it distracting and confusing in a way it wasnt back then.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Accessibility
by kwan_e on Thu 24th Nov 2016 12:44 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Accessibility"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

It doesn't matter if it's not the same.

Reply Score: 2

Duinomote-Mini
by cb88 on Thu 24th Nov 2016 03:40 UTC
cb88
Member since:
2009-04-23

I got my cousin, brother and myself a duinomite-mini for christmas...As well as a pickit3 if they want to do something other than write simple basic programs.

Pretty nice boards, VGA out, who doesn't have spare CRTs/LCDs these days or can get one for free.. PS/2 keyboard support which can be had on amazon for like 6 bucks. Micro SD for the disk drive.

It can run RetroBSD (without VGA), a TRS-80 emulation, a Z80 simulator which can apparently run comal-80, a pacman clone etc...

Reply Score: 2

Learning Programming
by Darkmage on Fri 25th Nov 2016 07:03 UTC
Darkmage
Member since:
2006-10-20

It's relatively simple to learn C and basic C++ the bigger problem is learning libraries/memorising them. usually it's easier to just lookup snippets you need but for complex applications it's useful to learn libraries.

Reply Score: 2

Sources
by uridium on Sat 26th Nov 2016 03:42 UTC
uridium
Member since:
2009-08-20

I like this BASIC project.

http://www.pagetable.com/?p=48

CBMBASIC as a scripting language.

The other place I like to practise my skills is loading MOS BASIC from 1977 (KB9) on my MicroKIM-1 computer and banging away on the serial port from the RS232 port. Here's it working off paper-tape and not as I now have in ROM: http://ns4.reboot.net.au/kim1/KB9LOG.TXT

I love the MicroKIM-1 kits Vince sells. I've spent so many hours banging away with hand assembled stuff, running BASIC, or dipping my toe in the water with simple hardware expansions.

Reply Score: 1