This book showed me how to code simple car crash games, in-memory databases, Eliza, bubble and shell sort.
I loved this book so much I've carried it with me over an accumulated 22,800km, in the hopes that one day, my kids too will have their imaginations full of gaudy little robots who run to interpret code on yellow spiral-bound notepads.
These books kicked off my love affair with programming, and like many of you I was writing out code without even owning a computer! I remember trying to make a computer out of cardboard and graph paper, and was disappointed that it didn't work. The fact that I could comprehend a for loop before the laws of electricity is kind of trippy.
Anyway, these books were my introduction to a lifelong love affair with programming, and I owe my entire career to them.
At the risk of sounding like a greybeard, things were very different then. If you grew up in the Internet age, it may be difficult to grok that there was a time when information was scarce, and that just carrying around books like these gave you immense understanding and potential.
I spent many happy minutes carefully retyping all the code into quickbasic and then spending endless hours trying to frig the c64/zx81 syntax to work.
Good times. After lunch i'm going to go back and finally get the missile game to work!
All the coding/gaming I did on my Spectrum lying down in front of the living room TV gave me these rough 'carpet callouses' on my elbows. They took at least decade to go away after I moved on from the Spectrum.
Not true! They'll all run perfectly on RISC OS on the Raspberry Pi, especially easily on RISC OS Pico.
I remember several of these books very fondly, it's great to see them made available like this. Usborne Books in general are brilliant.
Trying to port them to my MS-DOS machine running QuickBasic was a bit hit-and-miss.
These books are directly responsible for me being a programmer today!
- Machine Code for Beginners
- Introduction to Computer Programming, BASIC for beginners
- Write your own Fantasy/Adventure Games on your microcomputer
There are several other books from the Usborne 80's catalogue not shown on that page but worth having: Understanding the Micro, Usborne Guide to Computers, How to Make Computer Controlled Robots & How to Make Computer Model Controllers
The Usborne books were great fun at the time and still a model, I think, for teaching programming concepts to kids of all ages.
The biggest downer back in those heady 8-bit home computer days, was the plethora of platforms and the differences in the BASIC dialects. Made getting those code listings working a bit of a pain.
I remember typing in the program that tells you how old you will be in the year 2000. At the time it seemed unimaginable that I could ever be 21 years old!
Feeling very nostalgic looking through this.
Please go ahead and start to rewrite them in your favourite language or one that you want to learn.
The one I rewrote in python was surprisingly fun to play.
I missed the days of BASIC that required line numbers, but this reminds me fondly of my first programming class, in QBASIC on old 386 DOS clones