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Picking up again really is like riding a bike.

It's not the prettiest language, or the most elegant - not by a long shot, but working in it again I'm reminded of what an incredible gateway drug it was for so many of us to a life long love of computing.

There's something super powerful at play here beyond . I do think there are things we could learn from it in modern designs.

Just a tiny teaser example. I wrote this ugly bugger simple drawing program in < 10m:


My question is "Is it BASIC, or is it such direct access to the hardware?"

For example, if Lua had been an option, would that have done the same?

@emacsen Actually thinking about it your choice of comparison to Lua is VERY apt and rather interesting. Lua is a simple language but one that can be incredibly expressive and powerful. So is BASIC, but we can't ignore the fact that Lua's designers had another 30 years of prior art to work from that BASIC's original creators did not :)

In a sense, platforms like PICO-8 and TIC-80 are kind of what we're talking about here, even though they don't strictly speaking exist as hardware.


I'm not dismissing the importance or innovation of BASIC, or LOGO (which is what I started with on the TI-99).

I consider TIC-80 to be a bit of almost retro-futurism? It's the computer we wanted but never had.

OTOH it doesn't have any kind of significant IO functionality- you can sort of almost hack it in if you bang the registers, but... no :)

@emacsen No I get that, and I don't want to come off as glorifying BASIC as somehow being the perfect programming language. ZOMG it isn't.

However over the last year or so I've been really getting back into Atari 8 bit hacking, and I just found myself sitting there at an ATARI BASIC prompt, typing in expressions, making pretty graphics on the screen, and remembering how EASY & welcoming it felt all those years ago to turn on a machine, get a READY prompt, and start exploring.

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100%, and moreover, while I didn't have an Atari, the Commodore manuals were incredibly friendly and took the new computer owner through the functionality.


I didn't actually own a C64, but I did own a VIC 20, and the manual for it is is clearly a computer programming manual written for children.

@emacsen Wow that is rather impressive! Back in the days when software and hardware actually came with meaningful documentation and not just a tiny slip of paper with a URL in utterly unreadable tiny text :)

@feoh @emacsen My TV back then came with schematics of the internal circuit boards and the pin layout of the SCART socket on the back.
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