Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 4th Aug 2012 04:17 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems "Quick - name the most important personal computer of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Those of you who mentioned the legendary Apple II - that's fine. I respect your decision. Forced to think objectively in 2012, I may even agree. But if you just named Radio Shack's TRS-80, you made me smile. Your choice is entirely defensible. And back in the TRS-80's heyday, I not only would have agreed with it but would have vehemently opposed any other candidate."
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henderson101
Member since:
2006-05-30

Errr...In the 80's, coding was far more popular than it is today. All my mates were capable of using BASIC. The C64 has a pretty terse and hard to learn BASIC, what with all the Peeks and Pokes, but it had hardware sprites... and once you understood it, it wasn't that hard to code for. The BBC did not have any decent graphics hardware, in fact BBC didn't even really have a decent colour mode (not that the spectrum was any better..) The Atari 800XL had a better basic than the C64 and the Sprites were simple to code (If I remember correctly.) The Oric had a nice BASIC that was pretty buggy. The best computer I ever owned was the Amstrad CPC 464. The BASIC on that had a lot of features missing on the BBC - crazy interrupt driven stuff. The Spectrum was okay to program for in basic.I had a microdrive too, so I didn't worry about tape.

Unfortunately you're speaking to the "original" collector of 8-bits. From 1983 to 2004 I owned a shedload (Spectrum, ZX81, Oric Atmos, Amstrad CPC 464, Atari 800XL, C64 and a Commodeore PET.) Most were bought at the time they were popular. I coded on all of them. I used to walk in to Dixons and write a small game (usually a UDG with a cursor or QAOP control system) on a semi regular basis. (usually to piss off my friends who were more the 10 Print"hello": goto 10 level.) I wrote a word processor on the PET and used it to write a paper for school.

I never owned anything Acorn till the Archimedes range (A3000 then much later an A7000.) And it really had nothing other than built in assembler and procedures that really excited me.

Reply Parent Score: 2

MOS6510 Member since:
2011-05-12

I'd like to second that. Even the dumbest kids could and would at least code a few lines.

Most, if not all, home computers allowed you to start coding the moment you turned it on. And they came with a manual!

Reply Parent Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't know if at most typing-in some BASIC listings counts as coding...

And zero documentation was even possibly more often the rule. Or, at best, only a manual written in a totally unknown language - not a good start to "work out" things, that you cherish in the days gone by.

Reply Parent Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Errr...In the 80's, coding was far more popular than it is today. All my mates were capable of using BASIC.

In a way, depending how you count; it really wasn't. Many more people code now than in the 80s ...only, the numbers of non-coders (drawn in by new possibilities, expanding diverse things you can do on a personal computer) growing at even higher rates masks that a bit.

And anyway, either you had quite unusual mates, or you give them too much credit. probably the latter: as you say further down, "my friends who were more the 10 Print"hello": goto 10 level" - do we really want to describe such as coding? (plus likely typed-in when the primary activity of games got momentarily boring, and there was not much else one could do on 8-bit micros)

My BASIC efforts weren't far above that ...but still relatively the most "advanced" among my dozen+ buddies having micros (who AFAIK didn't ever peek outside games; except for one who got customised Workbench floppies once, marvelled at the GUI for a while).
Some time later, when my school got five Pentium PCs, they were used mostly for gaming... yes, during classes (that is of course also the fault of, well, weak teacher; but still). Luckily, no gaming-occupiers on the later addition of a surplus 386 (without CD-ROM and anyway too slow for the games that were in circulation, I guess), which mostly just stood there neglected - hence available for exploring.

a small game (usually a UDG

UDG?

BTW, overall, WRT to your listing of various British micros and their fortunes - what about Enterprise 128? ;p
(also, why would anybody launch and buy SAM Coupe in 1989 - when, as you mentioned, Amiga was already all the rage...)

Reply Parent Score: 2

henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

"Errr...In the 80's, coding was far more popular than it is today. All my mates were capable of using BASIC.

In a way, depending how you count; it really wasn't. Many more people code now than in the 80s ...only, the numbers of non-coders (drawn in by new possibilities, expanding diverse things you can do on a personal computer) growing at even higher rates masks that a bit.
"

In school, we all had computer studies up till 14. Part of that was learning basic programming. If you took a GCSE, you actually had to produce a real program.


And anyway, either you had quite unusual mates, or you give them too much credit.


Not really. As I said, a lot of them weren't much past:

10 print "enter your name"
20 input a$
30 print "your name is ";a$
40 go to 10

But that's still more coding skills than kids in the UK leave school at 16 with today.

do we really want to describe such as coding?


Yeah we do. Especially these days, when some pro coders rely heavily on the IDE and code completion to do even the simplest tasks. When I started coding professionally, late 90's, the IDE's we used had no code completion, code insight or even good syntax checking. Delphi 1 and Delphi 2 were the first two IDE's I used as a daily driver. VB 3 and 4 were about the same. Never used VB 5, but 6 didn't add as much "gunk" as there is not in Visual Studio 2010.

My BASIC efforts weren't far above that ...but still relatively the most "advanced" among my dozen+ buddies having micros


It varies. We live in different countries. At the time the UK government was pushing IT and Computer based skills hard. They'd encouraged the BBC micro and part funded the effort through the BBC (as in, broadcaster.) We all wanted to write the next big game, yes, but we all learnt a lot. People like Matthew Smith and the Darling brothers spurred us on (all young kids when they started.) The fact that BASIC was the defacto and BASIC was largely similar on all of the popular Micros really helped. Some graduated on to machine code, but it was a golden age for programming no matter how you look at it.


"a small game (usually a UDG

UDG?
"

User Defined Graphic.

Here's the 5 minute program I often typed in. It was a throw away, I didn't used to do that much work on it. Sinclair basic and untested/from memory

5 rem ** My little demo app **
10 for a = 0 to 7
20 read b
30 poke usr "A" + a, b
40 next a
50 rem ** little game starts here **
55 Let x = 10: let y = 10
60 Print at 1, 1; "A little game: Q up, A down,": print at 2, 1;" O left, P right"
61 Print at x, y; chr$ 144
65 pause 0 : rem wait for a key press - reduce flicker
66 rem ** delete what was there **
67 Print at x, y; chr$ 32
69 rem ** read the keyboard **
70 let a$ = Inkey$
75 if a$ = "q" then y = y - 1
76 if a$ = "a" then y = y + 1
77 if a$ = "o" then x = x - 1
78 if a$ = "p" then x = x + 1
79 rem ** check for out of bounds... from memory, so might be slightly wrong **
80 if x < 0 then x = 0
81 if x > 32 then x = 32
82 if y < 0 then y = 0
83 if y > 22 then y = 22
85 Rem ** next game loop iteration **
90 goto 60
100 REM ** Character data **
110 DATA BIN 000010000
120 DATA BIN 000101000
130 DATA BIN 001000100
140 DATA BIN 011000110
150 DATA BIN 001000100
160 DATA BIN 011000110
170 DATA BIN 111111111
180 DATA BIN 011001100

BTW, overall, WRT to your listing of various British micros and their fortunes - what about Enterprise 128? ;p


What about it? No one ever owned one. I'd ask you about the Mattel Aquarius too.... or the TI99/4a, which both bombed here. The Atari range was really small, despite being a giant in the arcades. The MSX didn't really make much of an impression either (but then that was mostly Japanese with Microsoft OS.)

(also, why would anybody launch and buy SAM Coupe in 1989 - when, as you mentioned, Amiga was already all the rage...)


You really have to understand how amazingly popular the Spectrum was in the UK. Super Spectrum? Hell yeah. We'd buy that. Then the Amiga 500 became more reasonably priced, along with the Atari 520STFM, and well - didn't seem to interesting any more.

Reply Parent Score: 2