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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"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


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

zima Member since:

Hm, now you basically add that most people were simply forced to pick up some BASIC - and certainly quickly forgot it. Like it was the case with all the people from my highschool, which at ~16 taught everybody... LOGO.

I wouldn't call it "coding was far more popular" - and I still have some doubts about calling it "coding" at all: as I write nearby, this type of computer activity, & the level of "insight" most of those folks had, doesn't seem too far removed from people who have step-by-step instructions, written for them on paper, how to do the most straightforward (it would seem to us) Windows GUI operations ...because they were suddenly forced to do it, usually by their workplace replacing typewriters and paper spreadsheets with computers and such
(people who can't create new email, can only reply; and send their email address to somebody basically right by, using... fax; who absolutely can't use search functions of computers; who must be periodically reminded that mouse pointer follows movements of their hand in two dimensions even in Start Menu ...I'll better stop recalling now)

And I wouldn't call those able to use GUI software - they are trained (not educated, more like you train an animal) to do some resemblance of it, they give an impression that they have any real grasp.

Generally, we still have many more coders around now (I strongly suspect also UK-wide; but certainly overall) ...just, those who choose that more actively.

BTW, I stumbled on a nice sortable by country of origin. Jupiter Ace seems curious (if not for... yoghurt case - seriously, WTH was it with British computers and their cases & keyboards?! ;) ). Or Memotech MTX - apparently with some pre-Hypercard, hm (and its weird history with the Soviets - best of all, a version with red case)

Reply Parent Score: 2