Lost lessons from the 8-bit BASIC era

in code on (#2S0G)
Call it wistful nostalgia, perhaps, but this guy isn't alone in recalling fondly how much you could do with so little on 8 bit BASIC machines.
The little language that fueled the home computer revolution has been long buried beneath an avalanche of derision, or at least disregarded as a relic from primitive times. That's too bad, because while the language itself has serious shortcomings, the overall 8-bit BASIC experience has high points that are worth remembering.

It's hard to separate the language and the computers it ran it on; flipping the power switch, even without a disk drive attached, resulted in a BASIC prompt. ... There's a small detail that I skipped over: entering a multi-line program on a computer in a department store. Without starting an external editor. Without creating a file to be later loaded into the BASIC interpreter (which wasn't possible without a floppy drive).
Yes, what we do with computers is so much more complex now. But I do miss getting a working machine less than 1 second after turning on the on switch. I suspect I'm not alone.

Nice toys (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-09-03 13:20 (#2S0P)

I went thru the C=64/Amiga500/PC route as a teenager. I really liked the C=64 and the Amiga, but they were simple toys compared to even the 286s.

I did like many things about those computers: direct access to video memory, light pens, sprite animations etc, but they lacked seriously in the language/environment department. For example, there was no operating system to call if you wanted to do sound, you had to "poke" some value somewhere, kind of like a modern device driver. The BASIC language was also shitty. After hacking on it for a while, you eventually ran into problems like lack of composite types, pointers, subroutines etc. Anything serious had to be written in assembly and that wasn't the paradise the article mentions.

Amiga-500 was much better, with the Pascal compiler and whatnot. I did have a lot of fun times with that also but there was nothing special about it, really.

What I really miss from that era are the cartridges. You popped one in, and the game/whatever loaded immediately. There were even cartrigdes which extended the computer's functionality but I never got one of those.

Modern computers can boot very fast. My current system boots under 10 seconds, thanks to the SSD in it. What I'd like to see in my life time is the return of cartridges. If we could solve the heat problem, I think we have enough technology to pack a lot of power and space into a cartridge-size box. We could then carry that around to hotels, meetings etc.
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