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Are You Keeping Up with the Commodore?

AKAImBatman (238306) writes | more than 7 years ago

User Journal 8

In an accidental followup to David Brin's article Why Johnny Can't Code, I share my own experiences with introducing my son to a Commodore 64. The experience convinced me that older machines are just plain better at teaching than modern software and computers. Which would be sad, except that the Commodore 64 is perfectly positioned

In an accidental followup to David Brin's article Why Johnny Can't Code, I share my own experiences with introducing my son to a Commodore 64. The experience convinced me that older machines are just plain better at teaching than modern software and computers. Which would be sad, except that the Commodore 64 is perfectly positioned to make a comeback as an educational toy!

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OLPC (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#16418073)

There has got to be a way to embed that C64 goodness in something the size of a folding keyboard, with S-video output to a TV, and a Wifi chip with storage on Google. You could beat that $100 laptop right down for pricing.

I'm glad I've kept my C64 + Disk drive. (1)

mlk (18543) | more than 7 years ago | (#16420757)

I've said I prefer Basic as a teaching language a few times before (and always got odd looks because of it). If my baby daughter is interested in learning to code in 6 to 9 years time I'll dig out my C64. :)

Fraction Fever sounds good, maybe I should start hitting the second hand shops for it?

I'm living proof to the contrary (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 7 years ago | (#16424245)

That gott-damn C64 with those programs in the manuals and magazines that never worked... coupled THAT with some hypercard programming books that also never worked...
its a surprise that I'm the programming genius that I am today!
The only thing it taught me was software piracy.

So I disagree but I'm just an anecdotal old fool.

Re:I'm living proof to the contrary (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16425757)

That gott-damn C64 with those programs in the manuals and magazines that never worked

*shrug* Worked for me. I read the manual cover to cover, and had the example sprite program running in no time. I expect that it won't be too hard to teach when my kid is ready.

If you want frustration, you should have seen the GW-BASIC manual. The explanation of changing screen modes was so obtuse that not even my mother (a former VAX BASIC programmer) could figure it out. I had to pour over the stupid thing for months until I stumbled upon the proper sequence for getting the graphics modes working.

On the bright side, I wrote a LOT of neat text-based games before I got into graphics. EGA Graphics turned out to be a PITA, and the BLOAD/BSAVE commands never worked quite right. I actually developed a screen-to-RAW dumper to correctly write out large images. Never mind that I had no idea what I was doing at the time. It was still tons of fun. ;)

coupled THAT with some hypercard programming books that also never worked...

Um... wasn't that Apple?

Cool! (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16428673)

Neat writeup. I agree that too many kids believe that programming starts by clicking the "Start" button. I spent a lot of time with my son teaching him the various components of a computer (what the CPU does, what RAM is for and how it's used, etc.) and he's got quite a head start now that he's off to college. Good luck with yours.

By the way, I emailed the link from your blog to the author of the C64 version of Odell Lake. He was definitely proud of it and what he accomplished with the limited resources he had to work with.

Re:Cool! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16451985)

Thanks for your support! :-)

By the way, I emailed the link from your blog to the author of the C64 version of Odell Lake. He was definitely proud of it and what he accomplished with the limited resources he had to work with.

Nice detective work, there! I attempted to track down the author of the game at one point, but only got as far as the company information. Then I found the answer to my question anyway, so I gave up the chase. Seems you got a lot farther than I did.

Now I know why the MECC alumni are descending on my site! (Not that I'm complaining, mind you.) ;-)

Re:Cool! (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16455345)

Well, it wasn't detective work nearly as much as it was friendship. We knew each other through MECC in high school (as students.) At that time MECC operated a timeshare mainframe and had serial terminals located in each high school in Minnesota. Not only was there a mail program allowing us to contact each other, but there was a facility on the mainframe (MULTI) that permitted multiple users to use the same executable. It wasn't too long before many of us had written chat programs, and there were a number of multi-user games that allowed in-game communication. We all got to know each other remarkably well.

I went off to college, while my friend went to work for MECC. After I graduated and got a job, he was hired onto my team a few years later. We've both shuffled around some since then, but we still see each other occasionally.

Re:Cool! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16455739)

Ah, I see. The world of computing was a lot smaller back then, wasn't it? It's kind of cool to find that there was only two degrees of separation in this case.

Thanks for providing your own 'look back' as it were. I don't know about others, but I just love hearing these stories about days of computing gone by. :)
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