Why Would Johnny Want to Code in BASIC?

This article in Salon mourns the death of BASIC.

Only, quietly and without fanfare, or even any comment or notice by software pundits, we have drifted into a situation where almost none of the millions of personal computers in America offers a line-programming language simple enough for kids to pick up fast. Not even the one that was a software lingua franca on nearly all machines, only a decade or so ago. And that is not only a problem for Ben and me; it is a problem for our nation and civilization.

I was a part of that generation that started out with BASIC. It was great. 30 years ago.

About now you are probably shouting, like I did,

What about Ruby??

You can do exactly all the old command-liney stuff that David Brin is all teary-eyed about in Ruby> You can even write the same crap code that you could with BASIC. The book, Learn to Program, that I bought Dylan could easily have been based on BASIC – but it wasn’t. It was based on Ruby and it was all the better for it.
But Brin explicitly dismisses Python and the like – presumably because they are not BASIC-ey enough.

Personally I think BASIC belongs in the dustbin of history and if David Brin wants to teach his son to write crap code, he can teach him Perl. For the rest of our children, there is Ruby and Python and Squeak and Logo.

Published by

Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

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