Lost lessons from the 8-bit BASIC era
by firstname.lastname@example.org 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.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.
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).
Python for me fits this niche rather well. I can fire up the interpreter in a second or two, run a few statements, etc. Modules I'm currently working on can be imported quickly and tested interactively. I understand the IDLE provides something similar in a full IDE environment.
I personally don't worry about a computer being "instant on." Wasn't useful back then either. At least, Cassette BASIC was never useful to me anyway. I needed to have a disk operating system running so I could load and save files to the disk drive. Even on Apple II I rarely used the command-reset to break out to integer basic. I much preferred teh BASIC that booted up with Apple DOS. Kind of funny to think that BASIC pretty much was DOS back then. At least the user interface to it on Apple. And it did provide a fairly low barrier to entry to budding programmers. Boot it up, break out a book and start coding. I wish I still had the book that my parents gave me when I was about 7. Can't even remember the title but it contained simple games (guessing games, etc) in BASIC that taught basic skills like input, variable, logic, loops, output.