- Master Barista
- Posts: 11579
- Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 9:52 pm
- Location: New England (U.S.)
The Birth of BASIC.
Now, everybody here knows I'm a computer geek of moderate (though some might say dubious) magnitude, but the link above made even me sit up straight and listen to it all the way through. Here we have a documentary on not only the birth of a computer language that many of us had to learn early on in our developmental phases, but also key aspects in the way that computers were used for 30 years after the initial flame was lit.
I've never personally been all that fond of BASIC, preferring once I got some exposure to things ALGOL and the like, but this is important history -- and it's history that is largely lost to modern humanity. Like the classic manually-operated switchboards, we forget these things at our peril. Sadder still is that we'll likely have to re-do this sort of thing in the coming decades as no-one will be able to think in the ways that computers need to be told what to do.
- Member Extraordinaire
- Posts: 1964
- Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:50 am
- Location: Outback Australia
My town had a manual switchboard up until the late 1980's and we only had to remember 2 digit numbers. You would ask for the town and then the number - or if you didn't remember or ever knew the number then the person's name would get you through in a small town.
There was no such thing as confidential communcation and Sue at the exchange knew everything about everyone and is still a good source of historical information.
Public phones had no dial, just had a handle that you wound briskly for a few seconds to get the operator's attention. Some elderly people visiting a city were fazed by the sight of a dial with numbers on it.
One day I rang from away, ringing the exchange and asking for number 21, the operator said "Oh, Karin is not home, I just saw her walking past ...... I think I know where she is going so I will put you through to there."
Karin was most surprised.
When we went onto an auto exchange, all the old equipment was put into a shipping container for posterity. Sadly over time termites got in and ate all the timber leaving a terrible, very heavy mess of wires. Only the metal cased board survived.
I was particularly sad because I wanted to install a very old timber board in my heritage building, which will be eventually open to public.
- Member Extraordinaire
- Posts: 1296
- Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:36 am
- Location: Somerset, England
I programmed in ALGOL in the 1970s but the system it ran on was scrapped and I had to use other, inferior, languages. About 5 years ago I started learning PHP and, to my delight, discovered it was very ALGOL-like ... in fact, with a little bit of improvement, it would have finished up as ALGOL again.
One day I was faced with using a multi-dimensional array, but the explanations about how to do this in PHP were complete gobbledeygook. In frustration I wrote a short test program in ALGOL and found that it worked; the language was still the same, only the ability of manual to explain it had changed.