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When BASIC Was Young: Great Memories
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edhadley
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edhadley,
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4/30/2014 | 9:42:32 AM
Nice trip down memory lane
I took a year of BASIC in high school, followed by two years of C++. Now I work in marketing - go figure! While I never liked the technical aspects of programming, I enjoyed working out the logic and solving programs. That's one reason why I work for Mendix, an app platform with a visual modeling environment that abstracts away the need to write low-level code. Nice article and trip down memory lane!
WHART000
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WHART000,
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4/30/2014 | 11:18:49 AM
Re: Nice trip down memory lane
I learned Fortran in college but on the last day of my senior year, one of the professors showed me Basic.  We had been punching cards and sending our programs off to be run.  A few days later we would get to see the results.  Being able to watch Basic programs run and then change them on the fly was magical.

I ended up as a hardware engineer but during the course of time, I wrote many thousands of lines of Basic or similar code.  It opened a door that I never thought existed.

 
onejbsmith
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onejbsmith,
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4/30/2014 | 1:01:40 PM
Re: Nice trip down memory lane
First time I saw Basic was in '66. I didn't know it the time, but Keremy and Kurtz were likely on the other end of the line. I was in high school in New Hampshire and we had a time-sharing terminal linked to Dartmouth's mainframe. (The pictures below are of the very terminal and a BASIC program for it). I didn't get the concept at the time, though, having been recently indoctrinated in inequalities, upon seeing  "x=x+1", I thought, "No. x does NOT equal x+1".

Fast forward 10 years, and as a newly-hired actuarial student for a Georgia insurance company, I was handed a spiral-bound booklet describing the Basic language and wound up using it daily mostly to do actuarial calculations.

Fast forward another 10 years and I was earning my living writing apps in compiled Basic, which morphed into what eventually became VB.NET. For a while Basic (Visual Basic) was the sanest way to create Windows apps which was what made it wildly popular at the time. 

 

BASIC Time-sharing Terminal Circa 1966

BASIC Program circa 1966

 

 
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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4/30/2014 | 1:49:46 PM
Re: Nice trip down memory lane
Onejbsmith, thanks for sharing your pictures. I am sure others will enjoy them, too.
Zman7
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Zman7,
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5/2/2014 | 4:16:08 PM
Re: Nice trip down memory lane
Memory Lane is right! I learned assembler, Fortran and then BASIC in the '60s & '70s - first on mainframes and then minis.   Picked up an Apple ][ and used Basic there too.  When the IBM PC and networking came along, I developed an international business system which eventually was translated into many languages and implemented all over the world.

I have to chuckle a bit now looking back at the acronym since the language is anything but for beginners IMO. It has been extended and enhanced so extensively that there's not much that you can't do with it...  

Over the course of my career, Basic enabled me to travel, live and work with people in over 60 countries all over the world.  I shared dinner and drinks with presidents and CIOs of some of the biggest corporations in the world (Exxon, GE, Amazon, Arco, Mobil, Oracle, Schwab, etc.), had pizza with Egyptians overlooking the Nile, walked the streets of Moscow at midnight, feasted on pancake breakfasts during Calgary Stampede, drifted on the canals of Venice, sampled the tapas bars in Madrid, rode the cable car to dinner in Bogata, visited the Sydney Opera House, kicked a little sand in Bali, and experienced more than I ever would have guessed as a youth.  All while implementing those systems...written in Basic. 

Basic...been very, very good to me...!!

 
DougN170
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DougN170,
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4/30/2014 | 9:54:48 AM
I Am Grateful For Having Learned BASIC From Dr. Kemeny
I learend BASIC from Dr. Kemeny in 1969, who was the president of Dartmouth at the time. I wasn't very good at it, but the knowledge that I could program if I put my head to it prepared me for the computer revolution to come. I was never afraid of technology after my Dartmouth years. Here I am at 63, a lawyer, mediator, author, and speaker, as technically saavy and comfortable with a vast array of machines and software. Many of my peers are confused and befuddled by it. I cannot believe the foresight that Drs. Kemeny and Kurtz had back then. I am grateful.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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4/30/2014 | 10:23:54 AM
Re: I Am Grateful For Having Learned BASIC From Dr. Kemeny
DougN, what an interesting opportunity to learn BASIC from Dr. Kemeny himself. Do you have any class project memories to share? Thanks for joining our discussion!
DougN170
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DougN170,
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4/30/2014 | 10:57:16 AM
Re: I Am Grateful For Having Learned BASIC From Dr. Kemeny
I remember sitting in the Kiewit Computer Center at a massive typewriter like thing. I would type in code onto a screen then run a compiler to see if it worked. Mostly, it didn't. I was an English Lit major, not a computer science geek. As an undergraduate I was allocated 2K of storage. By today's standards that is size of a period in a Word document. LOL. I don't remember any specific projects, but I did learn logical flow, Boolean logic, loops, if-then conditionals, and so forth. We stored our programs on paper tape with punch holes. Some people used Holerwith cards (do not fold, spindle, or mutlilate LOL). The mainframe was set up for distributed processing so many people could work at the same time. I think my wrist watch has more cpu power than that building-sized machine. Every undergradute was required to take one course in programming. Kemeny was prescient about the need to understand and be comfortable with technology. I remember a conference at the College when a bunch of guys showed up with boxes. One guy told me they were computers. I said, "No way!" He said, "Yep. In ten years, these will be as ubiquitous as televisions." "You're nuts," I said. Turns out he was about 20 years off, but still absolutely correct.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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4/30/2014 | 10:26:57 AM
BASIC memories
Chris Wolf, CTO Americas for VMware, shared this comment on the story via Twitter: "Carrying a cassette back and forth between friends houses and collaborating on BASIC was agile dev, 80s style." Well played, Chris.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
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4/30/2014 | 10:30:52 AM
BASIC in magazines
Matthew Graci shared this comment via Twitter: "I remember getting the mags with programs in BASIC. I would always get a char wrong and review code for hrs."
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
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4/30/2014 | 11:37:36 AM
BASIC and Assembler
When I was young, I had an Acorn BBC Micro, Model B.

 

This booted natively into a BBC BASIC environment (BASIC was stored on a ROM). BBC BASIC was relatively easy to use, as most BASICs tended to be, but its coolest feature for programmers was that you could easily embed assembler inline in your BASIC program. What that meant was that in the situation Thomas describes where BASIC just ain't fast enough to do some operations, you could focus your time on writing just the time-critical parts in 6502 Assembler, but write the rest in BASIC. This was used a lot in those games you typed in for hours from magazines, as you could achieve an awful lot with that 6502 assembler keeping the speed up.

I had many hours of fun writing useless programs on in BASIC. And when I moved to PC, there was a version of BBC BASIC available there too, which made things much simpler for me! 
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
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4/30/2014 | 11:48:53 AM
Visual BASIC
I program - just - in Visual BASIC, from time to time. I find it hard to reconcile what I thought I knew as BASIC with what VB.Net (for example) has become. I guess that's progress, because BASIC has morphed drastically over the years as VisualBASIC developed to accomodate the graphical elements and, perhaps most critically, stopped being a linear interpreted language and became an event-driven compiled language.

That said, I love that I can create a simple windows executable in VisualBASIC without needing to worry about malloc()s and similar; it has all of the "couldn't care less" automatic memory management that I love so much about BASIC and languages like Perl, while allowing you to generate distributable .EXE files all the same. Can't argue with that. I do wonder whether the original inventors of BASIC - if they had been living in the jungle in the interim - would look at VisualBASIC and recognize it as having its roots in their creation or not.
Andrew Binstock
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Andrew Binstock,
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4/30/2014 | 1:44:14 PM
Re: Visual BASIC
Agreed. In my own somewhat less melancholic retrospective on BASIC's first 50 years, I suggest that VB is not a real descendant of original BASIC. Microsoft has revved the language and added so many features, that you can only see faint echoes of the original language. Certainly, VB cannot compile any of the original BASIC. Whereas COBOL compilers (and I believe FORTRAN compilers too) can compile early programs in the language, with only minor tweaks.

One could argue that C++ is closer to C, than VB is to BASIC.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
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4/30/2014 | 1:52:40 PM
Re: Visual BASIC
Nice article, Andrew - thanks for linking to it. I loved the Dijkstra quote in particular ;-) Thankfully I grew up (largely) with BBC BASIC which at least allowed procedures and functions in addition to GOSUB, so I got used to working that way rather than looping and using GOTO all over the place.

The link between the original BASIC and VB.Net is surely tenuous at best. The closest thing I can think is that neither uses a semicolon at the end of the line - but that's hardly a unique identifier.

I wonder how one defines what should be call BASIC? That is, what is it about VB.Net that makes it BASIC? Or even the earlier VB incarnations? At what point in the natural development/progression of a language do we stop and say "hey, this is something entirely new"?

 
majenkins
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majenkins,
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4/30/2014 | 2:39:26 PM
Re: Visual BASIC
Dijkstra was always such a stuck up snob I am not surprised to find him making such a stupid comment. My feeling is if he had trouble teaching good programming techniques to people exposed to BASIC then perhaps it was an issue with the teacher not the students.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
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4/30/2014 | 2:48:53 PM
Re: Visual BASIC
Don't hold back; tell us how you really feel about him :) I'm guessing that his comment came off the back of his hatred of GOTO statements, and undoubtedly noted their overuse in BASIC. Whether one likes the way he said it, there is some truth to the fact that it's necessary to unlearn some BASIC habits when moving to other languages. Well, except Perl perhaps.

Meanwhile, wikipedia says Dijkstra was a fan of ALGOL 60, so I think we should extend the poor guy a little slack. He was clearly a little bit disturbed.
majenkins
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majenkins,
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4/30/2014 | 3:02:38 PM
Re: Visual BASIC
I will concur he was at least a little bit disturbed. This comment is not the only dumb one he made and you are right he hated the command GOTO. The problem for me with him and others was that they acted like GOTO was the enemy and it wasn't and isn't. It is possible to write well structured programs with GOTOs and it is possible to write poorly structured ones without a single GOTO in them. Any subroutine or function call is just a GOTO spelled differently that knows how to come back to where it came from. BTW I have never felt any need to cut Dijkstra any slack, he was too a arrogant for my taste. “If you don’t write the way I say then you are an idiot”, not really a quote just an idea of how he liked to talk, kind of like the can’t teach then comment. I guess it also goes back to the COBOL instructor I had that like Dijkstra seemed to think that all you had to do was eliminate GOTO and your program was better. Over the many years in this business I have seen some really hard to maintain programs that followed all of Dijkstra’s ideas for writing good programs. OK, thanks for the opportunity to vent on an old pet peeve.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
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4/30/2014 | 3:15:01 PM
Re: Visual BASIC
Perhaps Dijkstra needed to learn the Perl maxim that TMTOWTDI (There's More Than One Way To Do It). I agree - the absence of GOTO does not mean it's good code. And there are situations where GOTO really is the only smart way out of a particular situation.

Like so many "rules" they really should be "guides", not hard and fast inflexible laws that don't take into account each situation on its own merits.
majenkins
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majenkins,
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4/30/2014 | 3:16:06 PM
Re: Visual BASIC
Very well said.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
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4/30/2014 | 10:47:43 PM
Re: Visual BASIC
Reminds me of so many other things in life: "This is always right...except when it's wrong."

FWIW, I have zero shame at all about the many GOTOs I used in my halcyon youth.  ;)
kbay5998
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kbay5998,
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4/30/2014 | 11:54:37 AM
BASIC Memories
I learned BASIC in college in 1973 in the only course I took in the Engineering School (I was a Political Science major). We had the luxury of working on a GE Mini via teletype keyboards with punch tape. At least we didn't have to cart around cards but had to watch out for badly punched holes. Our class project was computing the minimum and maximum speeds an Evel Knievel wannabe had to drive his motorcycle in order to jump from the top of the Physics building to the top of the Engineering Building without failing short or running off the far edge. I enjoyed the he-- out of that course and it ultimately changed my life.

I ended up going back to school in the early 80's when if you had a programming certificate and could spell BASIC you could get a job. I actually 'graduated' and turned around to teach PC-BASIC in the same school for a year. Then I went to work at a software house that wrote a networked Maintenance Management and Spare Parts Inventory package using a home-grown database and pre-GUI windowing interface.
TT Millard
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TT Millard,
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4/30/2014 | 11:54:44 AM
I miss my Tandy and Amiga
Oh, do I remember BASIC.  Our math teacher in HS was tasked with the daunting challenge of attempting to teach programming, since we all know if you know math, you must be a natural programmer.  A class of networked Tandy computers, and a few awe inspired teenagers who knew poke and peek commands was a deadly combination!

I remember starting every program with gosub.. just because!  I loved spagetti code.  I called my creations "Coding Chaos".  The teacher graded my mess on the merits of it's output, since she had no clue what I had actually written.

On the side, we'd huddle in the library 'computer closet'. Literally, it was a 6 x 6 room with a small desk, chair and one Radio Shack Tandy computer.  They stuck a windowed door on the mini office so people could peer in at us (and so it wouldn't feel exactly like a closet) while we worked our magic. 

We wrote a 'pick your own adventure' game. Remember those? "Go West. Go East. Your in a large room.  There's a MASSIVE DRAGON!  There is a shiny key. What would you like to do next?"

I remember in college (dating myself of course) where i would go through computer mags and extract basic code that I would have to translate sligtly for my state of the art Commodore Amiga.  I created a strategy game where my friends could have raging ship battles that spanned the unniverse as they attempted to dominate and control distant planets (ok, it was a ten by ten grid and the planets were numbers, and the battles were a random number generator to see who lost the most ships... but we could dream).  Of course, I programmed in a few cheat codes of my own.  They never did understand how I won so much.

Thanks for jarring some very fond memories!
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
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4/30/2014 | 1:56:14 PM
Re: I miss my Tandy and Amiga
@TTMillard: "I remember starting every program with gosub.. just because!  I loved spegetti code.  I called my creations "Coding Chaos".  The teacher graded my mess on the merits of it's output, since she had no clue what I had actually written."

I do hope you graduated to the obfuscated C and perl contests in later life? It sounds like you gave yourself the perfect grounding for it. 

 

"I remember in college (dating myself of course)"


At first I read this to mean that at college, being a computer nerd, you were of course unable to get a date. Second time of reading, I realized - I assume - that you meant that this gave an idea as to your age! Oops :)

 

 
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
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4/30/2014 | 12:00:18 PM
Commodore BASIC
Another memory: My crowning achievement in BASIC at the age of 11 or thereabouts, was creating a networked chat program of sorts allowing two Commodore64 users to communicate in (not quite) real time. Since the C64s weren't networked as such, I used the only connection they had - shared access to a dual floppy drive (with 8 C64s plugged into a VIC-Switch or something very similar so they could all access it). The program was loaded from a floppy, and that floppy was then used to exchange data between the two computers.

It wasn't highly complex, but at the time it was amazing for the people who got to try it out and realize that comptuers could talk to one another across the computer lab! And all this in the nasty, nasty, Commodore BASIC (did they still call it PET BASIC?). 

Still, proof again of how simple BASIC was to program.

 
CynSieWil01
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CynSieWil01,
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4/30/2014 | 12:02:21 PM
I remember INFOBasic, too
In days of yore, I learned not only BASIC, but InfoBasic, as well, to write subroutines for a 4GL application generator for Prime minicomputers. Now everyone knows exactly how long I've been in this industry. Ha...
Tom P
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Tom P,
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4/30/2014 | 12:12:47 PM
BASIC lead to my career
I was 16 and got a summer job where they asked me to figure out this brand-new Cromemco System III microcomputer.  It came with an early DOS and I had to figure everything out, including self-taught BASIC.  I named her Sally.  After I'd made a few programs such as a valve-sizeing tool, my boss told me to move on and learn FORTRAN on it - which I did to build more complex programs.  I wrote in both languages for two years in that part-time job after school and summers.

I got to college two years later and the first engineering flunk-out class was: FORTRAN.  Using punch cards.  Once the professor realized that I already knew it, I passed the final with my A less than 3 weeks into the semester.  The class started with about 250 people and had about 68 by the end of the semester.  Now, I've spent my career in the online/internet world and it all started when I learned BASIC.
MAJ346BWAY
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MAJ346BWAY,
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4/30/2014 | 12:57:07 PM
Memories of a Simpler Time
I learned BASIC way back in 1978 as a freshman in college. It laid the foundation for learning more complex programming languages, such as COBOL and Assembler Language.

I wrote BASIC programs both for business and for pleasure. The most ambitious program I ever wrote for pleasure was a personal telephone book on my TRS-80 "microcomputer". You would enter the name of the person whose number you needed to find. It would do a sequential search across the cassette-based storage medium for the number, and display it on an on-screen form. Honestly, it was quicker to just look it up in a paper-based phone book! But, it looked really cool!

For business, I wrote a "database" that allows engineers in the company I worked for at the time to quickly look up parts for electronic equipment. At least it used 5.25" floppy disks for storage. I received a merit citation for my efforts.

Happy 50th Anniversary BASIC!!!! You're just four (4) years younger than I am!!!!

 
rchaplin
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rchaplin,
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4/30/2014 | 1:01:39 PM
BASIC Taught me critical thinking and problem solving
I wrote my first BASIC program when I was 6 years old on a Commodore 64 that my uncle had bought for me. Well it was more like copy from the back of the user manual that came with the machine, but it was my first experience with it. I spent hours hunting and pecking over the keyboard, making sure that every keystroke was complete and correct.

After I was done and ran the program, I had a red ball bouncing back and forth acrossed my screen. LAter that night, my mother turned of the computer while I slept, and thus erased my program. I was frustrated at that and began retyping the program in, making alterations even at that young of an age. My mother made sure to not turn it off this day, and when I was done, I had 3 balls bouncing each a different color.

Going into middle school I had a comp sci teacher who was teaching us AppleII BASIC and as one of the students who loved to tinjhker with programs and hungered for more knowledge about computers, a few friends and I would find sometimes short but always terse one-line basic programs in the computing magazines of the day. They were very archaic and we would rewrite them into a more readable format, and then tweak them further back into one-liner programs.

This led to my critical thiniking and problem solving indoctrination. In a recent article there has been mention that todays acedemia doesn't teach problem solving. Perhaps they should look towards a simple language like BASIC to help teach these fundamentals. I know I am crossing into another topic, but I know that it helped me in my career that I have enjoyed now for over 15 years professionally.

I owe alot to my Comp Sci teacher and to the founders/creators of BASIC. Thank you sirs! My life might have been so different without BASIC. PErhaps all of ours would have been, even if we never programmed.
at7001
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at7001,
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4/30/2014 | 1:33:51 PM
BASIC is still Around!
  Amazingly, the stuff is still around and people are using derivitives of of it. There is a VB .net and all.

 

I remember the firs MS Visual BASIC and man, what a mess/pain that was for developing graphics. never played with the ,net stuff, hopefully it is a lot better. Getting BASIC to provide graphics based apps is one heck-ova hack.
eisaacs282
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eisaacs282,
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4/30/2014 | 2:20:01 PM
BASIC was my first language
I was fortunate enough to be exposed to BASIC back in 1972 when my High School offered it as a beginners Computer Science course. We punched out our BASIC programs onto papertape on an old Telex terminal and then took our program to another terminal where we could dial-up Princeton University's mainframe at 110 baud and load our program into memory and execute. We were not allowed disk storage so the papertape was everything. You could tell who the geeks were by the rolls of papertape in their pockets. If we wanted to move on, the next semester were could take Fortran and keypunch our programs to run on the school's IBM 360. Lots of memories of those times.
BEss7501
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BEss7501,
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4/30/2014 | 2:20:29 PM
From BASIC to Assembly
I was introduced to BASIC on a WANG PS2 system in 1979.  Along with a manual that taught how to program "What Animal am I?", hundreds of hours were spent in front of a small CRT, glowing green letters, and countless cups of coffee.  BASIC was my gateway drug into coding assembly on the Commodore 64.  The Transactor magazine was the official prop-head rag for serious Commodore enthusiasts.  Imagine doing virtual machines (4 of them!) on a system with 64K of memory.

I posted the first (to my knowledge) BASIC version of "Battleship" on Compuserve back in 1984 and it was a huge hit.  It had the highest download rate of any program at that time (which was probably around 100 a day - these were dial-up days, folks).

In short, BASIC began my love affair with computers.  Now, after 35 years in IT, I guess it's fair to say I owe it all to BASIC.
jhorstman917
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jhorstman917,
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4/30/2014 | 2:34:13 PM
When BASIC and I were young
I first used BASIC while working on my MBA at USC in the early '70s. The terminals were teletype machines and the programs were 'saved' on paper tape which you had to be careful not to fold, spindle or mutilate. The first few minutes of every session were spent making sure your program read back in correctly and making corrections if it didn't. In the '80s I wrote some BASIC programs on an Apple IIe for personal use. Fast forward to the '90s and I was teaching Visual Basic at Cal Poly Pomona being one day ahead of the students for the first quarter. While it wasn't your father's BASIC it came back pretty quickly.
sten2005
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sten2005,
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4/30/2014 | 4:44:52 PM
VB6
Visual Basic 6 was the best version of the Basic programming language. Since then Microsoft has ruined it by making newer versions (VB.Net) that are just C# with a VB look.

VB6 has just risen to be the sixth most popular language in the April 2014 Tiobe index, despite being 16 years old.

There is a vote to bring back an updated version of VB6 at:

http://visualstudio.uservoice.com/forums/121579-visual-studio/suggestions/3440221-bring-back-classic-visual-basic-an-improved-versi

 

 
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
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4/30/2014 | 10:51:39 PM
Re: VB6
Hah... I used VB6 way longer than was necessary because it was too much effort to update some of my code for VB.Net. New software in many ways is easier to write in VB.Net, but in other areas just becomes mind-numbing.

 

Tell you what, I like the sound of this updated VB6. Add in some things that should have been built-in in the first place, like reading/writing the registry, and I'm in!
jthomas77001
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jthomas77001,
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4/30/2014 | 7:49:16 PM
Basic on a Cray
I earned an MA in French in 1977, and then became a bricklayers helper. I went back to school to get an MBA, taught French to help pay for it, learned COBOL, and discovered that language skills could be applied to IT. I taught myself BASIC on the university's Cray supercomputer by writing a program to average student grades. In 1984 a miracle occurred: a software company was looking for a BASIC programmer who could speak French. 31 years later, I am about to retire from my IT career. I still speak French, and I still love BASIC.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
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4/30/2014 | 10:43:19 PM
Ah, the memories
Thanks for this retrospective, Thomas.  I have fond memories of programming in BASIC when I was a kid.  I forget most of what I made, but I do remember making all kinds of fun games and useful programs that kept me entertained for hours upon hours.

 
GaryC11301
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GaryC11301,
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5/1/2014 | 9:55:45 AM
Basic experience
I worked for Honeywell, in early 70's they aquired GE and I was amazed by timesharing Basic.  Immediate feedback to programming instead of waiting hours for card deck to compile, what a concept.  To the best of my knowledge the first interpretive language and even the basic compilers were very fast.  Most all of the mini-computers that followed used a form of business basic as the primary programming language. 

 
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
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5/1/2014 | 6:41:16 PM
Commodore BASIC V2!
I started with BASIC on the C64 (made in Western Germany and still running fine) and the nice thing was it was right there. The 64 didn't know booting up or getting files ready, even the tablets these days are horribly slow starting up. On the 64 it was much easier than one the IIe whereyou first had to mount the floppy and then load the interpreter just to find that pretty much all memory was used up. Why did Apple not add a hardware interpreter like the Commodore folks? They could have used the same dang chip given that the hardware was similar.

Anyhow, I wrote several programs, collaborated with friends on projects, and spent endless hours typing code in from magazines and books, but programming is just such an incredibly tedious piece of work. Even today you need to decalre all kinds of stuff and wade through name spaces and objects just to get something to show up on screen. Still, BASIC allowed even me the then still barely computer literate to make the bread box do something.

And yes, the discussion about GOTO vs GOSUB was going on back then as well. GOSUB forced one to code more modular, but especially with error handling a GOTO was reasonable to use. Everything crashed and burned and the last thing that can be done is show a message. What is the point to go back to where I came from if all that can be done in the end is execute END? Sure, code can be written without GOTO, but it might just take more code and checking things twice. What is the benefit of that?

I did eventually come to quite some proficiency in VB6. The encouraging thing with BASIC is that you do not need much code to accomplish something. With a handful of codewords you can craft decent applications unlike Java where after 500 lines of nonsensical, but necessary code you can finally print a scrappy "Hello World!" on screen. I agree, with VB.NET all that ease went out the window. Anything .NET is just unnecessarily complicated and bloated.

I finally landed at PHP that has many of the same advantages of BASIC. No wonder why so many Internet startups still use it. Neither BASIC nor PHP may have great reputation, but those are languages that allow folks to accomplish something without ripping their hair out. It simply highlights the little fun that programming generates.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
5/1/2014 | 8:23:54 PM
Basic had flaws...so name a language that doesn't
The GOTO command in Basic can b e criticized, but some feature of any language can be criticized. JavaScript isn't strongly typed -- data types can be used that are only loosely defined and the system, to its author's regret, accepts them -- so it can be criticized for that. Java is strongly typed -- and it's criticized for that.
TNDadx4
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TNDadx4,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 10:43:29 AM
Writing BASIC from magazines
I can remember getting a copy of several computer magazines and typing in the programs that were in the back of them. I can still remember the frustration at typos that were in the programs and having to troubleshoot them.

I used to spend all hours of the night and day (after school) writing my own programs. It was a great time.
chorlacher175
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chorlacher175,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 10:49:46 AM
SmartBasic on the ColecoVision Adam
While I always had an interest in computers my learning really started with a ColecoVision Adam computer.  While it was nothign like dealing with punch cards I'm still amazed at how much time I spent waiting for programs to load from a tape drive.  I wish I still had that much paitience!  At least it was much faster and more reliable than the standard auido tape player and tape setup of our older Timex Cinclair 1000.  Anyway, I spent countless hours learning and programming with SmartBASIC on the Adam.  I made small programs for myself, some of which were actually practical.  It was great fun and I learned a lot about computers and programming concepts in general.

Now, about 25 years later, I'm still enjoying computers.  As a system administrator my programming is mostly limited to creating and modifiing scripts but it all really started with SmartBasic on the ColecoVision Adam!
anon2218013087
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anon2218013087,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 11:01:00 AM
Basic as part of Early Career
In 1970, I was part of the Academic Services Staff at State University of New York Albany (SUNYA ) working with the team that developed Real Time Basic (timesharing version) for the UNIVAC system that was done in strong coordination with Darmouth. Among my first duties was the conversion of the Dartmouth Basic Library to the SUNYA variant. I then added many new programs for use for use within the Academic community, especially in the area of extended arithmetic, statistics and accounting/financial computing. I was also part of the NSF team that determined the syntax and mechanisms for adding graphics language extensions to include the development of example programs. Later (1977-1980) I was part of the test and quality team for the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) RSTS/E which used BASIC-PLUS as its primary development language. There were multiple test programs and system unilities that were written. I continue to this day, through the progression on apple and PC from gwbasic to todays use of visual basic.
tedjernigan@gmail.com
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tedjernigan@gmail.com,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/3/2014 | 5:46:04 PM
Re: Basic as part of Early Career
In 1970 I returned from the military, having never seen a computer, and got a job in a research lab at TI and the key activity was making a machine that that used laser light to measure the thickness of films on silicon slices. It was a mechanical and electronic marvel. It was operated by a HP computer that had 12K 12 bit words and ran basic for software. We spent an incredible amount or time trying to make the software smaller. It required 2 grown men to lift the rack mounted power supply and two men to lift the core memory box that had those 12K 12 bit words. My Android phone has more capabilities than that 6-ft tall rack that housed this system. In our spare time, we wrote programs for fun in BASIC. I am retired and have not written code in many years, but if I had to do that I would be tempted to try to use BASIC!. 

 
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
5/4/2014 | 4:06:19 AM
Re: Basic as part of Early Career
It's so interesting to recall those days when we fight with green screen and write program in BASIC. It's simple but very systematic. I studied BASIC in my primary school. When I came to work in 1999, C++ and Java are already the main stream. But I do love BASIC - by facilitating it, I grasped the fundamentals of programming.
MattW607
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MattW607,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 11:02:23 AM
Both personal and professional
I programmed the Parker Brothers game Black Box on my TRS-80.

I convinced my employer that a Canon BX-3 "Programmable Calculator" would be a good start in computerization, and I received several cash awards in recognition of programs I wrote for it.
ANON12487330990978
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ANON12487330990978,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 11:03:27 AM
Grateful for having learned it...
We used Gary Aiken's (Dartmouth) Xeroxed, perhaps 25-page user manual, in batch mode via punch cards on a GE-415 mainframe.  Our engineering class at Union got the manual, was told to learn it in two weeks, and oh -- by the way -- had term projects due using computational methods to solve some engineering problem 3 weeks after that.

So in that context it was just another tool, not the world in itself, pervasive technology, that IT and computer science have become.  It was simply: "... you're an engineer, you've got problems; maybe you can compute a solution; here's something that computes solutions if you tell it how."  Can you imagine learning BASIC in one night?

And then spending the rest of the year "in the Computer Center?" Before some of us discovered the TIME= statement, we had a 3-minute processing limit. Well, you know what happened to batch processing after that...
dstrader675
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dstrader675,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 11:14:41 AM
TI 99 Even Before Standard Keyboard
I remember the first thing out of the box with my TI 99... got a book on BASIC with the computer, new cassett recorder and stayed up for 32 hours trying to figure it out.  Actually got pretty good at basic and built several small business utility programs I used at my office... Wow my first aps.  Did write one major program that was eventually purchased by a company that turned it into a working DOS based program that could be used to calculate a pretty accurate retirement income estimate for its HR department.  They paid me $50 for the code... I think that was 1981. Now I build websites for a living... that was a long, long time ago. (Still have the TI and the old rolled paper printer, cassett player died in about 1982.)
gkirk300
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gkirk300,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 12:09:10 PM
Baseball Cards
I was 14 (1987) and re-coded a baseball card database from a produce inventory mgmt BASIC listing I found in Antic Magazine.  It was great until I got to the 128K threshold of my Atari 130XE.  After all db field and code optimizations, I was able to store 610 max of then current and retired players, their stats/profile, birthday, and which cards of theirs I owned and how many.  It only took 5 minutes to install, and only 2 minutes to conduct a search!
jmiller80301
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jmiller80301,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 2:38:37 PM
BASIC in the beginning
Earliest use of BASIC was Rocky Mountain Basic on a Tectronix 4051 with 700x1000 resolution in the Navy. but only 32K of ram.  The screen was raster based and had to be flashed to remove or clear it.  First program was for determining Biorythms, but eventually created a computer assisted drafting program that could draw really detailed ships drawings.  The printer actually read the raster on the screen and flash printed to light sensitive paper.  It was many years before anything with that level of graphics was available for home use.  In the beginning character based graphics was as good as it got.

First home computer was a Sinclair before Timex bought them.  And started real early with CP/M, the predecessor to MS-DOS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DOS.  I was involved with DOS since 1.0 and Windows since 1.0 on green screens because few had color monitors at the time. 
6937th IT
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6937th IT,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 3:19:15 PM
Early Basic use in the Navy Reserve
Joined the Navy, early 80's. I reported to an Admiral's Staff in Seattle. I was in charge of manpower billits for a five state area. (In the Navy Reserve, there had to be an open billet you would fill, in order to be paid) Once I understood the spreadsheets, I understood the system. A few weeks later a new program was presented to me.  "Since you use computer programing, we want you to put all of our manpower data on the computer",  ( I had three classes, including basic) I was walked to my new office(read closet) and was informed "here is everthing you need. When can we expect printed manpower listings?" My equipment was painted olive green and rust. I had a keyboard, printer, small table with phone(no dial) and one box of green stripe. When I picked up the phone, I was connectd to the "national programe" in New Orleans. The short version, was this was an experiment to see if a simple data capture system would work, though out the navy reserve. I was told to develope a basic program and be ready to send all the manpower info via a phone to N.O.. The system worked, but the dial up took 16 seconds per number/letter to transmit!  I did visit each Naval Reserve Center in our five state area, with my portable modum in a briefcase.  The experiment proved data could be gathered via a simple system and could be availble for time saving processing.
UberGoober
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UberGoober,
User Rank: Strategist
5/2/2014 | 3:36:29 PM
Life before objects
I first learned Fortran on a Univac mainframe and punch cards, and was exposed to BASIC on the TRS-80 Model 1.  It was love at first byte.  I can't even guess how many hours I spend in front of  a screen-full of BASIC, squeezing out spaces and comments to fit just a litte more into the 4, and then 16, and finally 32K of RAM.  I made money programming in BASIC from the late '70s until the mid 80s, and though I took up other languages, I still dabbled with it until VB came out.

Owing to my formative experience, I find object-oriented programming distasteful, and swore after fiddling with VB and C++ never to instantiate anything.  I got out of programming (save a little shell and AWK) and so far, I'm a man of my word!
mbalaji200
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mbalaji200,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/2/2014 | 3:55:47 PM
Rapid development with BASIC
In India, back in 1986, I was teaching some business executives about what computers can do and how they can be used to improve their business.  Initially it was going to be just a slide presentation with material printed out from the IBM PC that we were using in the class.  We had not planned on showing any hands on application in the 2-day class but I decided to develop a demonstration program as an after thought to show how easily someone could develop useful applications.  Took me about 2 hours to knock out a simple program that simulated tracking cricket scores and displaying them in tabular format thanks to BASIC.  What made it more interesting was the ease with which the execs with no prior computer knowledge could understand the BASIC program and suggest improvements and see the changes made on the fly with immediate results. 
anon7249619324
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anon7249619324,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/11/2014 | 8:35:20 AM
VB6 Programming
VB6 has risen to #5 in the May 2014 Tiobe index of programming popularity.

It is now the leading Microsoft language

 

 
anon7249619324
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anon7249619324,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/11/2014 | 8:47:34 AM
Vote for VB6 Programming
VB6   http://visualstudio.uservoice.com/forums/121579-visual-studio/suggestions/3440221-bring-back-classic-visual-basic-an-improved-versi

 

 

 


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