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Forty Years of LOGO

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the go-mr.-turtle-go dept.

Education 162

SoyChemist writes "Forty years ago, LOGO, a derivative of LISP, was born. Several years later, it became the cornerstone of educational software that simultaneously taught geometry and how to think like a coder. With a plethora of high-end educational software packages to choose from, each with flashy multimedia and trademarked characters, parents and teachers may find the humble turtle a bit outdated. Thankfully, several LOGO programs are available for free through a variety of websites, but perhaps 3D programming environments like Alice will be the wave of the future."

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LOGO vs. BASIC (4, Interesting)

gbulmash (688770) | about 7 years ago | (#20997645)

I, for one, welcome our 40-year-old turtle overlords.

My introduction to programming was BASIC, back in 1980. By the time I encountered LOGO in a high school computer science class, it was a fun toy for about an hour, but then got old. Thinking back to that, I could conclude that LOGO is sort of lame, but for little kids who don't have the typing and language skills of middle school or high school students, I guess it's a better entry into programming than BASIC.

They're supposed to have LOGO on the OLPC XO laptop, and if I do that "buy one, donate one" thing, it will be interesting to see at which age my kid (who is now 2.5 years old) starts taking an interest in LOGO.

lopgo vs python (2, Informative)

rucs_hack (784150) | about 7 years ago | (#20997739)

My son tried logo, because his school had it and thought it would be instructive for the more able students. He was utterly bored, and is now learning python in his own time.

Logo was good, but the language landscape is so vast now there are better languages for almost every task to which logo can be put.

Re:lopgo vs python (0, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 7 years ago | (#20997963)

My son tried logo, because his school had it and thought it would be instructive for the more able students. He was utterly bored, and is now learning python in his own time.

Logo was good, but...

So really, LOGO wasn't all that "good". Why then does it have a "following"? Is it just one of those "touchy/feely" ideas that where hatched as a way to "enlighten" the world, but ultimately fail the "any shred of practical use" test? Like the $100 Laptop that is in fact a crippled toy?

Re:lopgo vs python (4, Informative)

salesgeek (263995) | about 7 years ago | (#20998121)

So really, LOGO wasn't all that "good". Why then does it have a "following"?

In the 80s Logo was about as good as it gets to teach kids some simple computer programming principals. For a lot of kids, Logo was enough to get them to understand that they liked computers. At least back in the day we were trying to teach people how to really use a computer instead of teaching how to talk to Mr. Paperclip into doing your presentation or essay. For teaching kids to program nowdays, Squeek is fairly interesting and there are some neat possibilities with tools like Flash. What matters is showing kids how we program computers to do things step by step and use simple logic to make decisions about the next step. Squeek and Flash let kids do a lot more visual stuff and make it easy to learn how things work.

Re:lopgo vs python (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20998327)

"Logo was enough to get them to understand that they liked computers."

Logo made computer look like etch-a-sketch with a typewriter instead of dials. Too dumbed down to show any essence of computer/programming. If anything, it'd lead the kids to think they like the real etch-a-sketch better than this dumb computer thing because it has a better interface.

Re:lopgo vs python (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20998981)

Squeek and Flash let kids do a lot more visual stuff and make it easy to learn how things work.

"More visual stuff", as evidenced in the brain-death that is MySpace. Is it too late to teach them away from more visual stuff? Into more like, you know, real content with some original thoughts put into it?

And "how things work"... you mean how programming works, right? To teach how things work, take them to a library or workshop or just outside the house.

Sorry if I'm coming across a bit grumpy, but I hope my kids don't learn programming; at least I'm not making any effort at guiding them to it. Well, maybe I could introduce INTERCAL as a "programming really is fun" education...

(I don't consider myself a half bad coder, I love the few languages I know and want to learn more, but I hope my kids end up doing something really useful and helpful to other people... programming for living isn't exactly that. I contribute to some open-source projects but I don't feel I'm empowering anybody. Great, let every third world child become an intarweb junkie like us. Okay, I'll stop now. Didn't mean to troll.)

Re:lopgo vs python (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 7 years ago | (#20999401)

Flash==Basic but worse. My goodness people don't teach children Flash. Flex may be better but I havn't played with it much yet.
Sqeek is probably the new Logo. Smalltalk was designed to be a better Logo than Logo but in the 80s you could only run it on a $10,000 machine.

Re:squeak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21002405)

I fortunately was not exposed to smalltalk when it was introduced in my University. I took all C/C++ related courses earlier one of which was later on canceled and one essentially turned into a smalltalk course. I can safely say that other students that I know will require years of therapy to repair the damage that was done to them.

Languages like C++ and Java are far superior in what they are capable. Their extreme flexibility (especially C++) allows teachers to pick what they want to introduce students to. If language has pointers, it doesn't mean that kids must be exposed to them right away. For example Java/C++ strings are perfectly capable of being usable, providing a tangible output and keeping students sane.

There is no reason to teach someone a dead language to begin with just to learn concepts of OO programming. In the end Object is just a paper bag over a pretty face underneath. Ive seen people after being exposed to even Java switch to the wonderful world of C promptly peeing their panties and running home to their mama. I cant imagine what someone exposed to Smalltalk only will feel like.

People can learn math, which is far less tangible then programming in my experience. No reason to dumb things down.

Re:lopgo vs python (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20998783)

I don't see logo as an aid to learning to program. I see it more as a tool for learning about algorithms, geometry and logical thought.

There are far better languages for learning how to program with. Basic, pascal, even forth! But for learning the principles that precede programming, I can't think of a finer tool.

Re:lopgo vs python (0, Flamebait)

rucs_hack (784150) | about 7 years ago | (#20999249)

But for learning the principles that precede programming, I can't think of a finer tool.

An Abacus?

Re:lopgo vs python (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 7 years ago | (#20999415)

Logo was good, but the language landscape is so vast now there are better languages for almost every task to which logo can be put.

I don't know -- I can't think of anything better for the kind of multi-agent simulations that StarLogo [] and NetLogo [] seem to focus on than those are similar Logo derivatives (at least, for an educational environment that doesn't take lots of outside programming experience as a prerequisite). OTOH, one disadvantage Logo has is that there is a lot less support in the form of texts readily available compared to languages that are popular for broader use like Python or Ruby and far fewer teachers (either formal teachers or mentors) that know Logo well-enough to get a student up to speed with it.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (5, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20997923)

I, for one, welcome our 40-year-old turtle overlords.

My introduction to programming was BASIC, back in 1980. By the time I encountered LOGO in a high school computer science class, it was a fun toy for about an hour, but then got old.
I started off on LOGO in elementary, then we had a bit of BASIC, I liked logo better : )

It might not have a lot of power under the hood, but it really is a great way to lear about programming. You have your turtle, you tell it what you want it to do, it does it. It's a very straightforward way to understand what programming is all about. Basic has a lot of "go to" stuff that you need to learn first that is very abstract.
But bossing a turtle around is a very intuitive thing for a kid to understand.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (4, Insightful)

lahvak (69490) | about 7 years ago | (#20998241)

It might not have a lot of power under the hood...

Actually, LOGO has a lot of power under its hood, definitely more than BASIC. It seems that most people here don't realize that LOGO is a full featured dialect of LISP. Some things that are easily done in LOGO would be pretty hard in BASIC. I agree with the rest of your post, though.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20999129)

It might not have a lot of power under the hood...

Actually, LOGO has a lot of power under its hood, definitely more than BASIC. It seems that most people here don't realize that LOGO is a full featured dialect of LISP. Some things that are easily done in LOGO would be pretty hard in BASIC. I agree with the rest of your post, though.
Good thing I said "might" ;-)

We were switched over to other, less awesome computer classes after that short spell with LOGO, I never got around to learning about the more advanced stuff LOGO could do. I tried finding logo later on for my personal learning needs, but no software salesman had any clue what I was talking about.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (5, Insightful)

B1 (86803) | about 7 years ago | (#20998265)

There was actually quite a bit more to Logo than just the familiar turtle graphics. While I haven't played with Logo in a long time, I remember it was quite easy to write structured programs. You could define primitives (essentially subroutines), read/write files, handle I/O, etc. I think everything was in place to write some fairly sophisticated software without ever involving the turtle.

IMHO the turtle is really more of the friendly face, to make Logo fun for beginners (e.g. look at the pretty designs you can draw, and look how easy it is to build more complex images out of very simple, reusable building blocks).

At the time, BASIC made it very easy to write spaghetti code, especially with its use of line numbers rather than labels. The more GOTO and GOSUB statements you had, the harder it became to manage--changing line numbers could unleash a horde of broken GOTO statements.

IMHO, I think Logo doesn't get enough credit for what it truly was.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (1)

vbraga (228124) | about 7 years ago | (#20998785)

Actually, I played with it for a long time in school. We did some sort of small robotics projects for science classes, all in Logo. It as quite easy since (computer) language was translated for my native language (ie. "repita" instead of "while", and so on...). Was really amusing. Probably, that was a major force shaping my professional career. It's power is underestimated and underused by most teachers, although.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20998655)

>but it really is a great way to lear about programming

Oh, that way madness lies; let me shun that.

Re: LOGO vs. BASIC (1)

BradySama (755082) | about 7 years ago | (#20998043)

I got in to programming a bit later, probably around 1984... started by typing in those BASIC programs you would get listed in the computer magazines of the day into an already old Atari 800. A few years later (1987) I started getting some formal programming instruction (Intro to Computer Programming in junior high) with LOGO Writer (on an IBM XT) as the tool the class was based around. As a teaching tool, I think it was great for a few reasons: (1) Instant gratification - the interpreted mode let you move around the 'turtle' and draw on the screen with some simple commands. You have to admit, for a little kid, BASIC provided little in the way of instant gratification when it came to computer graphics. (2) Early introduction to procedural programming - the GOSUBS and RETUNS in old ROM/Disk BASIC do provide the same type of functionality, but moving on to Pascal (as well as QuickBASIC, and then later C, then C++, etc) was a lot easier having already worked with the more formal structure of LOGOs procedures. Don't get me wrong - I don't disagree with you at all! I just wanted to point out some additional things that later made me realize that the old turtle wasn't too bad of a teacher after all. Thanks for the memories!

Re: LOGO vs. BASIC (1)

bluej100 (1039080) | about 7 years ago | (#20998823)

I absolutely agree. I loved LOGO as a kid, and I've even played around with it in the last few weeks (KTurtle and FMSLogo). Drawing is really fun, and it's a great showcase for the power of abstraction. I think it'd be hard to make a language more captivating for beginners while still having the flexibility and depth to keep them learning.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (4, Informative)

Lisandro (799651) | about 7 years ago | (#20998159)

Thinking back to that, I could conclude that LOGO is sort of lame, but for little kids who don't have the typing and language skills of middle school or high school students, I guess it's a better entry into programming than BASIC.

Basic is a great learning language, but i can't really think of a better introduction to programming (and geometry!) than Logo. Kids who might have problems dealing with variables, conditionals and even print statements can grasp rather quickly the "move forward, turn, move forward" simplicity of Logo.

I was taught Logo when i was about 10, and like you, i had already cutted my teeth with C64 basic. Still, it was a very fun language to use and i actually learned from it. Something as simple as drawing a n-side polygon involves understanding of angles, distances and basic programming skills.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (1)

SoyChemist (1015349) | about 7 years ago | (#20998203)

I had my first experiences with LOGO at six. I am guessing that your kid is super smart, so some exposure at an even earlier age might be a good thing.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (5, Interesting)

xtracto (837672) | about 7 years ago | (#20998555)

Thinking back to that, I could conclude that LOGO is sort of lame, but for little kids who don't have the typing and language skills of middle school or high school students, I guess it's a better entry into programming than BASIC.

My first contact with programming about around 1986 was with Logo. My parents subscribed me to a private computer course and for us the small kids (I was 5 years old!) the teacher used Logo, for older guys he used Basic and even COBOL and FORTRAN. But It was Logo what made me really *understand* computers in the sense of how the famous Hacker's Manifesto [] explains, it is a very interesting machine which *you* can manipulate to do EVERYTHING!

However, when you are referring at LOGO in your comment you are surely referring to the turtle-guided drawing interpreter of the language, which yeah can not compare with what BASIC was at that time. However, there are *plenty* of interpreters and other programs that use Logo as its underlying language. Lots of them are actively used in research for agent-based modeling such as NetLogo, StarLogo, or about StarLogo TNG which tries to go a step further to teach the basic concepts of programming by using building blocks.

I think Logo is one of the *best* programs to begin computer programming for kids because it is very easy to make the computer *do* things, and with these new implementations it does not need to be as "boring" as just drawing lines.

Lisp derivatives... (2, Insightful)

icebrain (944107) | about 7 years ago | (#20998583)

I, too, started with Basic (albeit in the mid-90's). Never saw LOGO... but I used a Lisp derivative (scheme) in our intro CS course at Georgia Tech. Even us non-CS guys (engineers, science majors, even liberal arts people) had to take the class.

Scheme was probably one of the worst things they could have had us using for such a class. The majority of engineers and the others didn't need to get too far into advanced programming concepts; most of us will never use anything more complicated than matlab.

Obviously, the course changed the semester after I took it; engineers/science people took a matlab-based class, liberal arts people used java and python, and CS moved on to something else.

I think most young children could probably use Basic once they can read and understand basic algebra.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (1)

vbraga (228124) | about 7 years ago | (#20998727)

I was exposed to logo when I was about six years old. Now, I'm a programmer. Keep your kids away from it ;)

[I'm a programmer but not an english speaking one. Sorry for the grammar mistakes]

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (3, Funny)

ZeroPly (881915) | about 7 years ago | (#20999419)

LOGO was actually fun - the point was what your program did, not how pretty your code was...

Back in high school, after reading a book "Turtle Graphics" I created my own turtle environment in Basic on the Apple IIc. I set it up for multiple turtles so that I could give each of them rules (inadvertently modeling a predator-prey system long before I knew what it was). I remember one day I left the computer running on a fairly complex set of rules that had each turtle avoiding the edge, following and avoiding other turtles with 90 degree turns only, etc. etc.

When I came back about an hour and a half later after lunch I discovered that my program had drawn an intricate fractal swastika across the whole screen. The teacher and several other students had already seen this. Much fun explaining that one - thank heavens it was before the modern paranoid age of "zero tolerance" in schools.

Learning programming used to be more fun back then. Instead of clean code that did boring things, we wrote sloppy code that did fun things. Nowadays the pedagogues dictate what kids learn, not the geeks. I feel a bit sorry for the younger people learning CS nowadays because there's no way to convey what the atmosphere was like back in the 80s.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (1)

AxelTorvalds (544851) | about 7 years ago | (#20999917)

Highschool is a bit old. I first encountered Logo on the Apple II around 2nd or 3rd grade.

You could do a lot more with it than turtle graphics but that was the draw. I look back fondly, it is probably one of the reasons I'm a software engineer now, it wasn't hard to make the computer do something that was satisfying to a you kid. I fear now that there aren't enough analogs, Squeak is very cool, Alice might be it, it's just that expectations are so different. SImply drawing a picture on the screen and writing little subroutines to make interesting designs was very satisfying the the 40columns of green text world.

Re:LOGO vs. BASIC (1)

donnyspi (701349) | about 7 years ago | (#21000241)

I, too, credit my love of programming and my career choice to early exposure to Logo in elementary school. Thanks Mrs. Wong!

LOGO was great for me (2)

A non-mouse Coward (1103675) | about 7 years ago | (#21000433)

I can't claim to match the 40 years LOGO has, but I can claim that my first computing experiencing was making the turtle do what I wanted on the good ol' Commodore 64. I was 7 years old. By about the time I was 9, my computing curriculum included replacing the turtle with custom single-color bitmaps. If you did it right, you could feign animation-- one image with a guy who is taking a step, one image with the guy's legs together; "pick up the pen", move a few pixels in the positive direction, replace the cursor bitmap, move a few more pixels replace with the original bitmap; repeat.

It was great fun while it lasted. A digital (but so low tech to today's standards) picture flip book. And it taught me procedural coding techniques. I'm glad the "turtle" was part of my past.

Never got to use it. (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 7 years ago | (#20997735)

What's interesting to me is that I never ran across Logo in school. My first exposure to a computer was in junior highschool. We had a lab filled with TRS-80 machines and we wrote stuff in basic. (This would have been 1982) Later, in highschool we did everything on Apple IIe's. Again, we started with basic and then moved on to Pascal.

I don't know if it was just that the school district never got on board, or if logo's popularity was regional but I never heard of it until a couple years ago when I was looking for software to teach programming to a nephew.

By the way, anybody else read that as lego [] ?

Re:Never got to use it. (1)

Pingh (1130313) | about 7 years ago | (#20997885)

I was actually lucky enough to use this back in grade 2-5.
We actually had the physcial device as well, where you'd tell the turtle where to go and it drive along the floor.

It was much fun, but in those early days we really were just drawing spirals and other various designs.

This had to be back in the late 80's

Re:Never got to use it. (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 7 years ago | (#20997961)

I guess I'm too old to have seen it then. It says 40 years, but it couldn't have been too common in classrooms that long. Those computers I used in jr. high were the first I had seen in a public school. We never had them in grade school.

Re:Never got to use it. (1)

mr_clem (155428) | about 7 years ago | (#20998035)

I still have a working Lego/LOGO Apple IIe system that I have used for many little projects over the years.
Very functional even still. Easy to learn, easy to program, and fun to mess around with.

Re:Never got to use it. (1)

innerweb (721995) | about 7 years ago | (#20998179)

Sounds familiar.

Funny part is, I still have a model III computer. It is great for the kids to tool around with doing whatever they want. It still works! However, once the 5 1/4" floppies are all bad, that is it. No more Model III. I wrote my first games on it, and my youngest son is completely into game design.

Yeah, there is so much better out there now for everything, but the Model III was so simple to learn and write on.


Re:Never got to use it. (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 7 years ago | (#20998245)

In my high school - I hung out at the computer lab a lot. There was one major rule - no games except for rare times when they were o.k. If you were caught playing a game - the head of the math dept. who ran the lab (Mr. Cornell I think) would pull the floppy out of the drive and staple it to the wall. By the end of the year there were always a ton of floppies stapled up all over that room.

Re:Never got to use it. (1)

innerweb (721995) | about 7 years ago | (#20998393)

We had a similar rule, but I was writing the games, so I got around it. Three of us (we used the name Awesome Threesome Software) wrote, played or designed graphics for the games. One of the other students used to get mad at us and do things like pull our power cable. We built a *network* for the model IIIs using the cassette jacks, and *took* over his computer. He left us alone after we told him we could do the same thing to his grades. Like other bullies, he just needed to be stood up to in a way he could understand (and that is how we decided to name ourselves Awesome Threesome Software).

Ahh, to be young and fancy-free again. lol


Re:Never got to use it. (1)

netsphinx (619340) | about 7 years ago | (#20999211)

I had LOGO in high school (with Harvard Graphics and some type-in-what's-on-the-worksheet programming). It wasn't stellar, but it did prepare me for vector graphics, later in life. Radio Shack Level II Basic, on the other hand, was my computer play-pen. Dad bought it for himself, then promptly started typing in (or buying?) educational programs. I learned state capitals, national capitals, how to touch-type, how to build cute little spaceships out of CHR$'es, how to type in programs out of a book, and how to win from Blackjack amounts of money that required exponential notation to display. I loved it...and it was formative. I keep wanting ActionScript to let me 080 GOTO LINE 010.

Sounds like unfortunately bad timing (2, Informative)

WebCowboy (196209) | about 7 years ago | (#21000043)

My first exposure to a computer was in junior highschool.

It seems that Logo was introduced to children a few years younger than that--think grades IV to VI. Computers were introduced into my elementary school around the time frame that computers were introduced into your high school (about 1982). In middle or high school students generally "graduated" to BASIC and perhaps Pascal programming. Older students were also the first to get computers (A small classroom with a number of Commodore PETs and a single "Bell+Howell" branded Apple II+). So, in my school those in Jr High in 1979 to 1982 would've been introduced to computers via BASIC on the PETs and would do a bit of "fun" stuff on the Apple in BASIC as well.

A couple more apples were brought in, then in 1982 Commodore released the 64 and our school bought a large number of them. The Apple II+ and C64s were primarily put into use in elementary grades...and they were each ordered with a copy of LOGO! I was lucky enough to have been in the right grades when they were brought in. LOGO was also ordered for the Apples around that time.

LOGO made for a superior introduction to programming than BASIC for several reasons:

* LOGO took advantage of the graphics and sound capabilities of the machines on which it ran. Without exception ALL dialects of BASIC supplied with personal computers at the time lacked some degree of built-in support for these capabilities and required PEEK, POKE and CALL/SYS/USR commands and machine language skills to fully exploit. Atari BASIC was the best (only lacked support for sprites and a couple of GTIA graphics modes), followed by Apple (no sound support at all, even for the internal beeper, but good graphics), TRS80, and last and very least lousy Commodore BASIC (vanilla MS BASIC without any extensions at all). LOGO could beep, draw pictures and the turtle was always a sprite on machines that supported sprites.

* LOGO syntax was consistent/standard at a high level. I made some fancy programs at home on my Coleco ADAM's SmartLOGO and could type the printout character-for-character into a Commodore 64 and it would run fine! There were visual differences due to differing resolutions and colour palletes (both had 16 colour selections but didn't use the same 16 so it looked tacky on one of the machines). There was absolutely no way to accomplish this level of compatibility with BASIC (beyond the rudimentary MSBASIC standards, so no graphics or sound) with one exception--the Coleco computers' SmartBASIC was syntax-compatible with Applesoft BASIC.

* LOGO was extensible and structured. BASIC was a mess in comparison, with its line numbers and how it enticed beginners into using GOTO. LOGO encouraged structure in its syntax--it had formal, named procedures (TO MYSQUARE/REPEAT 4 [FD 100 RT 90].../END, and you called the procedure as if it were just another built-in "word") and didn't have an enticingly easy-to-use GOTO construct. As a result the code was very readable and students learned good programming practices.

When we "outgrew" LOGO our schools didn't even throw us into old-school BASIC even then; we were put onto IBM XT clones (built by Commodore--like many Canadian schools we had an infatuation with Commodores, probably due to Commodore's Canadian roots) but learned "True Basic" instead of GWBASIC which was more strucutred and "modern" (and interestingly enough, multi-platform as it worked with Macs, etc). In high school QuickBASIC was used on 286 machines.

If it wasn't for me doing BASIC programming on computers at home (and trying my coleco code on the Apples at school) I might never have known basic had line numbers.

hm, after reviewing 'alice' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20997741)

Let me just say ICK. /goes back to coding C

Re:hm, after reviewing 'alice' (2, Informative)

fegg (79146) | about 7 years ago | (#20999499)

As a high school CS teacher, I am considering creating a class that uses Alice.

I think it may be easy for people in this community to make assumptions about programming languages and their utility. However, relevant questions, to me, include, "How do we get students who may not have sufficient math skills feel success as programmers at a young age? How do we get them hooked on the idea that computing and programming are accessible in their lives?"

Alice, with its drag-and-drop interface, can be frustrating for some professionals. It is a tool for learning programming concepts with an interface that is friendly to young people by producing a product that is of interest to young people.

It's just another piece in an ever-growing educational toolkit.

Re:hm, after reviewing 'alice' (1)

the agent man (784483) | about 7 years ago | (#21001687)

Check out AgentSheets [] It is simple enough to allow elementary students to make simple Frogger like games, yet powerful enough for CS students to make games with sophisticated AI []

Re:hm, after reviewing 'alice' (1)

808140 (808140) | about 7 years ago | (#21000775)

You say ick to something, and then go on to code C? Jesus man, you need more exposure. For the love of god, learn haskell [] , and see just how much you're missing.

I suppose I should be glad that you didn't say C++ or Java... that, at least, is something.

hehehehe (1)

WwWonka (545303) | about 7 years ago | (#20997815)

lego my logo..huh huh huh

Logo is great (1)

arhar (773548) | about 7 years ago | (#20997895)

My first experience with Logo was in 7th grade.. Thinking back, it really helped me form the kind of thinking required for a developer. What I really loved about LOGO was how it was so easy to learn, yet at the same time you could do pretty complicated things with it.

And by "do" I mean "draw with the turtle, of course" :-D For example, check out this gallery: []

Re:Logo is great (1)

Balthisar (649688) | about 7 years ago | (#20998687)

I got to learn Logo in 6th grade, and I *loved* it because I was l33t. Hell, I'd already been programming BASIC on a Vic-20, TRS-80 MC10, TI99-4A, and I'm not sure if Apple ][ BASIC came before or after the Logo. When I finally got my Commodore-128 I wrote a version of Logo called "Logo-128" -- the only thing it didn't really do well was variables, because I had no idea how to implement them in my version of a scripted language.

Now, I just struggle to understand CakePHP. ::sigh:: I'm old at 35.

Animation (1)

WPIDalamar (122110) | about 7 years ago | (#20997911)

I remember finding the erase command and doing simple animation by drawing & erasing stuff across the screen in a loop. Probably my very first "hack".

Middle School Flashback... (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | about 7 years ago | (#20997917)

Wow. I'd not thought of those Atari 800s for years. I'd have to agree with other posters on LOGO use in teaching; if a student can program in LOGO, then they're already ready for another language.

Personally, I was bored silly with LOGO and couldn't wait to get home to the ol' Trash-80 Model I Level II Basic. Scary, huh?

Alice in Slashdot Land (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20997935)

I think Alice has been slashdotted... if u know what i mean..

Does it actually inspire coders? (1)

Gertlex (722812) | about 7 years ago | (#20997937)

I had multiple opportunities and experiences in early elementary school (mid 90s), but the only thing I remember about it these days is that the mascot was a turtle and drew stuff with commands that I could never remember. Nor do I know of anyone personally who would be likely to recall more than that.

Was it really that influential?

LOGO was perfect for its intended use (5, Interesting)

crgrace (220738) | about 7 years ago | (#20997943)

I learned to program using LOGO on a Commodore Vic-20 in 1980 or 81. It was an astounding program because it enabled a very high level of functionality without needed knowledge of a lot of technical details of the machine. My school district (Portland, OR) had a Talented and Gifted program that included a computer course, and LOGO was it. We were able to draw polygons and devise simple games (somewhat more rudimentary than an Atari 2600). Based on this experience, my brother and I got a Commodore 64 a year or so later, and I was disappointed in BASIC. Sure, it was structured more like a "real" computer language, but it wasn't possible to do anything even remotely sophisticated in Commodore Basic graphics-wise without resorting to quasi-assembly PEEKs and POKEs. To get around this, my brother tried to learn 6502 assembly, and burned out on computers (he's now a lawyer.. poor man). I was lucky and discovered Pascal...

I don't think I would have a career in the technology industry if it were not for LOGO (I'm an analog IC designer). A previous comment said Python is better for his child. I would agree. In fact, I would have done pretty much anything for Python and Pygame when I was a small child. However, for the late 70s and early 80s, LOGO was the educational language to beat, and the only way for a child to really feel the machine the way a programmer does, and not as a passive game player.

Re:LOGO was perfect for its intended use (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 7 years ago | (#20998075)

I had a Vic-20 and bought a special graphics cartridge for it so that I could draw stuff. I was extremely jealous of my friend's C64 and the ability to make graphics with sprites. That peeking and poking was some pretty cool stuff.

Re:LOGO was perfect for its intended use (1)

crgrace (220738) | about 7 years ago | (#20998111)

Agreed. But it probably isn't the best way to be introduced to programming concepts is it? PEEK and POKE was pretty arcane stuff to my 8 year old mind. Now Python... THAT is cool.

Re:LOGO was perfect for its intended use (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 7 years ago | (#20998217)

oh - i wouldn't argue that - and we were freshman in high school at that point. 2 of my friends had c64s - and gave me grief about my vic-20. we all teased our friend with a timex sinclair.
i was part of a geek crowd at school that spent a lot of time hanging out in the math departments computer room. I remember a bunch of us huddled around the schools very first mac - just in awe of the thing. those were really good times.
kids today have some great opportunities to learn and an amazing array of tools available for free. that is what first attracted me to linux. i could play around with so many great tools and not have to cough up big money to do so.

Re:LOGO was perfect for its intended use (1)

crgrace (220738) | about 7 years ago | (#20998471)

Thank you for sharing those memories. I am also in awe of what is available to kids today. For example, the MIT Open Courseware... Unbelievable. I use it a lot today, but it would have been a life preserver for me when I was a kid (I think I'm about 4 or 5 years younger than you are). Just ten years ago, you had to go to a library and know where to look to get a handle on any kind of advanced technology. Now you can go to google and learn anything you want for example from basic calculus all the way up to adaptive signal processing, FOR FREE. No wonder American technological hegemony is going down the drain fast... we (I'm American) are no longer the gatekeepers of information. It's probably a good thing for the world. Not sure about that though.

If I were a kid today, I would be devouring Linux and Python. Truly astounding tools.

On a personal note, my neighbor was the computer support manager at Reed College, so he had a Mac in 1984. I remember sitting around it with him and his two sons for hours into the night... night after night... programming it and dissecting the Inside Macintosh tomes. Remember Lightspeed C? God, what great memories. The 128k Mac was so advanced, yet the toolbox and UI were small enough to be grasped by my 10 year old mind. And the intellectual honesty and clarity that went into that original Macintosh still guides my designs today. The first time I coded up a desk accessory (that WORKED) I felt like I was Albert Einstein!

One of my favorite memories is when I put a copy of Missle Command I had written in Borland Turbo Pascal into the public domain (added it to one of those Shareware catalogs that were big in the mid/late 80s). Anyway, sometime later I got a letter from Borland inviting me to come in for a job interview! My parents were dumbfounded... my mom still has the letter. I was in Jr. High at the time. It was probably a carpet-bomb type thing, but to me it was huge.

Are you a computer professional these days? I was going down that route until I got seduced by physics as an undergrad.

Re:LOGO was perfect for its intended use (1)

chochos (700687) | about 7 years ago | (#20998901)

Was that the version of LOGO that could have up to 4 turtles moving at different speeds and you could set a sprite for each one? I remember taking a class when I was 14 on some computers that had this LOGO and it was awesome (I already knew LOGO by that time, learned it when I was 9, but on an Apple II where there was only 1 turtle, you coudn't tell it to move at a set speed, not change its image to something else, it was just a triangle).
I remember writing a game with that LOGO, where a plane went by and a parachuter jumped off and you had to land him on a certain spot that moved on the ground. The landing spot was one turtle, the plane was another, the parachuter was another. I wanted to set the 4th turtle to be a bird that would pass by and could break the chute but didn't have enough time, I was only 14 and had no idea about collision detection and stuff like that.
LOGO was my first language, I think it was cool because you could learn about recursion, iteration, subroutine calling, parameters, etc. I moved to BASIC later, awful language but more flexible I think (not that I ever tried to write a simple word processor in LOGO, I don't know if that would have been possible at the time).

LOGO was my first exposure to programming (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | about 7 years ago | (#20997985)

LOGO was my first exposure to programming when I was in elementary school in the 80s. I really liked it and still think it's a good way to get kids to understand the basics of programming (write and save a program to draw a triangle, a circle, etc.). I do not feel it is suitable for much beyond that.

Of course, the idea that programming should be a part of a basic computer course has gone by the wayside. Today's kids computer classes are all about Microsoft Office and, if you're lucky, Dreamweaver.


Re:LOGO was my first exposure to programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20998213)

Get off my lawn!

LOGO - not a viable adult language (2, Interesting)

SimBuddha (924737) | about 7 years ago | (#20998009)

My concern with teaching and using LOGO in education is that LOGO fails to provide people with a fully capable language that they can use life long. How many teens or adults program in LOGO? What type of "real" programs can be written in LOGO. Is it efficient enough for practical programs.

My first programming language was BASIC, (then 6502/Z80 assembly) then Pascal, C and APL (APL is my favorite teaching langauge - see Kxdb+ from KX Systems to see where APL is now). While LOGO is cute, in my mind it fails the long term relevance test, and also is not close to CPU's in operational methodology.

Just my 2 cents

Re:LOGO - not a viable adult language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20998077)

My concern with teaching and using LOGO in education is that LOGO fails to provide people with a fully capable language that they can use life long.

I have yet to find a life long lasting language, I thought learning C at college was enough for my professional life, not a chance.

Re:LOGO - not a viable adult language (1)

fork_daemon (1122915) | about 7 years ago | (#20998333)

LOGO was never meant to use as a language to be used lifelong. It was mainly a language for the little kids to get an idea into very basic programming logic and simple ideas on using programming for something creative as drawing. U don't expect kids to develop a program to generate the fibonacci series, do you? I encountered LOGO in my school at a time when I had already used BASIC before at a computer institute. LOGO did seem lame to me then, but i still found value in it for kids much younger who had never learnt programming and needed to start. It is just like the Lego except its programming.

Re:LOGO - not a viable adult language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20998505)

U don't expect kids to develop a program to generate the fibonacci series, do you?

Maybe not, but you should be expected to spell all your words correctly without looking stupid. Yes, off topic, but that really bugged the hell out of of me.

Re:LOGO - not a viable adult language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20998101)

Mod this guy funny.

Re:LOGO - not a viable adult language (1)

iRegister (1173203) | about 7 years ago | (#20998903)

For the DOS version, you couldn't even compile independent executables, so it was clearly meant to be for educational purposes only. However it was a fun hands-on experience at programming. Students could see results quickly. Type FD 10 and you get to see something drawn on the screen, and REPEAT 5 [ FD 20 RT 144] for something more interesting. It also makes you think about how to write programs. You can also learn more about whatever it is that you are coding, whether it be a board game, fractal explorer, or a 3D model. In these aspects it's similar to a TI-82.

Re:LOGO - not a viable adult language (4, Insightful)

Dahlgil (631022) | about 7 years ago | (#20999081)

That has been my exact view on Fisher Price toys as well. Take the Fisher Price barn that says moo when you open the door. Have you ever seen a barn door to do this? Playing with this a a child I never learned the subtleties of farming, and was never able to connect the cow to the door. On top of this, everything was much smaller than in real life. I recall visiting a real farm some years later and being overwhelmed by its enormous size compared to the one I kept in my toy box at home. I mean, it was totally irrelevant.

Re:LOGO - not a viable adult language (2, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | about 7 years ago | (#21000127)

Your 2 cents ain't worth a dime... ;)

It's kinda bizarre that you'd question the efficiency and capability to write "real" programs in it, then go on to invoke BASIC later in the post. In terms of being a fully capable language, BASIC was a toy language compared to LOGO. Pascal was better, at least it had proper procedures and functions, but still not quite as capable (it shared LOGO's heritage of being designed for education, but it lacked much of LOGO's sophistication). Only thing C has over it is a wealth of great, efficient implementations.

(As a historical note, BASIC, at the time 6502 processors were common, lacked proper procedures, functions, structure, scoping, or any of the other stuff you'd associate with non-toy languages. I understand today's BASIC isn't the same, and mean to cast no stones at modern BASIC by this)

Re:LOGO - not a viable adult language (1)

SimBuddha (924737) | about 7 years ago | (#21000971)

The 8K Floating Point BASIC on my first machine had functions. My second machine with NorthStar Basic was useful for writing complex business applications. Visual Basic has been enhanced and is a core language for MicroSoft platforms today and is quite efficient and fully capable... LOGO is still? So your point is what?

My point is that LOGO is more toy than programming language, and while some people have had a positive experience using it, I question its value, even as a first language. I question why an educator would start a student out on a language they cannot continue to use long term, and that is highly abstract in some ways so the true nature of the machine hardware underneath is obscured and not understood while using it. To me it is a bit like teaching kids about bugs and higher biological life forms without a foundational knowledge of cells.

Why not teach them how a line is drawn, instead of ideas like, turn right 45 degrees, draw X distance. How many kids even know what angles are and sin/cosine, etc.

Considering that I have been involved as engineering management with several educational application suites for classroom K-4, and have raised 3 children, so I have a perspective based on my experience. I see that a lot of what is passed off as learning about computers is about becomming a good data entry person, and not about foundational knowledge and skills at applying a tool to a problem.


Re:LOGO - not a viable adult language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21001937)

"In terms of being a fully capable language, BASIC was a toy language compared to LOGO. Pascal was better, at least it had proper procedures and functions, but still not quite as capable (it shared LOGO's heritage of being designed for education, but it lacked much of LOGO's sophistication)."

There was this thing called "Karel" (sp?) that they threw on us when I was a CMU undergrad ('90), and not only to sci/eng people. It was cooked up in Pascal, but I seem to remember Logo like graphic in it.

Btw, mixing BASIC with assembly routines I was able to cook up useful, functioning, and performant programs on 8-bit personal computers in the early '80s. Maybe because BASIC interpreters were built-in, but I can't say the same about Logo.

Re:LOGO - not a viable adult language (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21000315)

Life-long tools I got in elementary school: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

Subjects where either the tools changed or my understanding of it was fundamentally altered by later education: Science, sociology, history, and everything else. And the "life-long" tools were built upon as well, of course.

The purpose of most of your education isn't to prepare you for the rest of your life, it's to prepare you for the next step in your education. What a child is taught of gravity in first grade is so greatly simplified it bears little resemblance to what they'll be taught when they're a grad student in a physics department. But without that initial simplification, they won't be able to acquire all the intervening steps of understanding to get there.

Tools are much the same. You could start a child in a career for art by inundating them with all sorts of artistic theories and art history, and information on what all the different types of media and canvas are, all at once. Or you could hand them some crayons and let them have at it, and gradually introduce those concepts. The second method works, if the kid has artistic inclinations. The first method leaves you with a kid who is bored, confused, and would like very much to do something, please.

You're right; LOGO, at least as presented to grade school children, is not a viable adult language. But C++ is not a viable grade schooler language. Even the simplest C++ program, "Hello World" [] , involves several commands, keywords and symbols that are unintuitive to a child. "Cout" is easily explained, and "main" only slightly less so, but "#include", "<iostream.h>", "return", and "<<" are all rather more esoteric. So the child either needs some pretty complex concepts (for a grade schooler) such as standard libraries, buffers, etc., explained to them, or they need to take it on faith that these lines which don't have a visible effect are important. The first, as noted above, leads to the child becoming bored and confused, and as for the second, children frequently refuse to take things on faith. The simplest LOGO program is "FORWARD 10" (or the equivalent). It says exactly what it does: "Move forward 10 paces". (I said "paces" instead of "pixels" because the child doesn't even need to understand, at this point, what the unit of measurement is.) They can string several such commands together, and each has a visible effect. Kids need a clear connection between what they do and what the effect is. LOGO provides that, C++ does not. BASIC straddles the line somewhat between adult languages and child languages, which makes it a good language for teenagers or advanced children.

Are there better programming languages for grade school children to learn today? Possibly so. Were there back when I was a kid? Not that I've heard of.

I miss my LOGO turtle (1)

Seek_1 (639070) | about 7 years ago | (#20998019)

My first real exposure to using a computer for something other than games was 'drawing' things in LOGO during third grade (I'm 27 now). When I think back on it, I believe that the experience was fundamental in shaping the way that I view development now.

If I was ever in a position to expose today's kids (at an early age) to something like that, I'd be all for it. I say an early age simply because it's the thrill of being able to make the computer do something that hooked me (and figuring out how to solve my early mistakes), not how flashy any of the graphics were.. (I'd think older kids would get bored quickly and say 'well, I can draw a flower in Paint, why the hell would I use this?' and miss the point completely).

LegoLogo (1)

Aehgts (972561) | about 7 years ago | (#20998103)

This brings back memories of primary school, programming Lego robots in on an Apple while the rest of the grade humiliated themselves in spandex (dance classes).
LegoLogo was a cabled precursor to mindstorms, with sensors, actuators, motors etc but the programming was done in LOGO.
Ah the satisfaction when programming a robot to work its way through a maze of books and pencil cases.

Real Programmers Used Shapetables (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | about 7 years ago | (#20998129)

Apple II had a facility called shape tables [] that could do sorta what logo could do at the time. You typed in a bunch of vertices in hex, and then you could draw the shape transformed in several interesting ways.

Shapetables, I thought, were the bomb, but also, proved to be my first introduction to the lesson: there is always a better program than you.

I was in high school at the time, Firestone in Akron, and we had a teacher that fought for and got a really nice computer lab. He was great. He had a lot of prestige because a future shuttle astronaut was one of his students, and in general, the math department there was one of the best in the state.

Anyway, I spent hours hand coding my shape table for a little lunar lander video game I was writing, and I thought I was the cat's meow, and I was all about to show it to everyone, trumpeting my genius, and this other guy walks in with a pinball game written in assembly language.

All I could do was compliment the guy, because it was great. He had decent sound, fast graphics, smooth play. It was just great. Amazingly, I don't know where he went with it, because it was right up there with the commercial pinballs of the day. But still, talk about humiliation! I about died!

i was a basic kid (1)

syrinx (106469) | about 7 years ago | (#20998161)

Possible new nerd fight: those who learned on BASIC vs those who learned on LOGO.

Of course I suppose that's somewhat generational... the older ones among us will instead fight between FORTRAN and COBOL, and the younger ones will fight about... whatever it is that they're teaching kids now. MS Visual Clippy ("I see you're trying to write a function!") or something, probably.

Anyway, I was in the BASIC camp, specifically GW-BASIC. Might have seen LOGO once in school, but never did much with it. Really didn't do much with BASIC in school either, but my dad taught me some and I learned on my own after that.

Re:i was a basic kid (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 7 years ago | (#20998377)

I'm probably a bit younger than you; I was a visual basic kid. I remember for a month or two, I had no idea you could declare variables. I just did what I assumed every professional software developer did: I drew an invisible label in the background to store my value. Who says VB teaches bad coding practices?

Re:i was a basic kid (1)

teslar (706653) | about 7 years ago | (#20998559)

Hello, my name is Logo kid. You killed my turtle, prepare to die!

But, seriously, no, I don't think we'll actually be fighting over this. Logo no longer has any importance in my life, as I'm sure Basic hasn't in yours. It was simply fun while it lasted, way back in the good old days. Heck, I can't even remember enough Logo to make an informed argument in its favour ;) I do remember that I was writing some pretty funky GUI driven games in it at the end, but that's about it. Oh, and it kinda encouraged me to use a lot of goto's, which I guess is kinda bad.

But no, this won't be a new nerd-fight because I doubt anyone cares enough about it. It is far more important to teach those blasphemous vi people the error of their ways! (I'm kidding, I'm kidding)

Re:i was a basic kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20999559)

Oh, and it kinda encouraged me to use a lot of goto's, which I guess is kinda bad.

In Logo?!? You fail utterly.

LOGO beyond middle school (3, Insightful)

fleck_99_99 (223900) | about 7 years ago | (#20998209)

It's interesting that most comments here are along the lines of "I saw LOGO when I was 7" through "I played with LOGO for an hour in middle school." I tinkered with a couple of LOGO variants as a kid, but my real LOGO experience ended up being... in college.

In my school's Computer Science department, the class that weeded out (or at least delayed) the majority of students was our Discrete Structures course. The theoretical part of the course focused on typical discrete logic, discrete math, sets, predicate calculus, etc topics. But the unusual part was that the professor was determined to break us out of the C++ mold that the introductory programming courses began. Therefore, he picked LOGO as the language for the course. Sure, interpreted LOGO wasn't the most blindingly-fast choice, but the list-based nature of the class made it very much a "LISP Light" that we could quickly work with for solving problems. Surprisingly, it was extremely flexible for the kinds of logic problems we were working with. By the end of the year, I really had to rethink my initial concept of "oh no, turtle graphics." Plus, we got exposed to a bunch of quite interesting offshoots, such as StarLogo [] , a massively-parallel-turtle variation of LOGO.

If you've never had to write a parser for an arbitrary boolean arithmetic expression in LOGO, then you've never really lived... (Er...)

massively-parallel-turtle (3, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 7 years ago | (#20998353)

so turtles all the way down?

A LOGO without graphics... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20998307)

Personally, I never learned LOGO in school, I used it at my first programming job!

I was 17 years old and already know how to program in Z80 assembler and MBasic (Ah, the heady CP/M days!).

Imagine my surprise when I got an apprenticeship at a place where they did accounting - in LOGO!

Not just any LOGO either it was M.I.T. Experimental LOGO #43 if I remember correctly, running on a microcomputer with 12 terminals connected to it! And there was NO TURTLE in this LOGO, only the list operators, logic and math primitives!

This company was doing the monthly accounting of about 40 or so client firms and the whole system was written in LOGO.

I remember thinking "Why the heck are they using a kid language to do all this" at first, but under the teaching of my mentor, I learned recursion and abstraction to a level I had never considered before.

I mean instead of tripping all over the mundane aspects of implementation that you would bump up against in assembler or BASIC, here was a language that was so high-level that you really could concentrate totally on the abstraction and algorithm of solving the problem without getting tangled in a lot of what seemed to be more real-world problems (memory allocation, variable types, string/array manipulation, etc...), this language forced you to think in really high-level ways about the problems you were trying to solve.

It was a year of epiphany-after-epiphany for me and it did more to form me than any of the other languages I've ever touched. It caused me to rethink my approach to all other languages and tools and I feel tremendously fortunate that I was in the right place, at the right time to experience it all.

Sadly, that company's history ended badly; one of the partners was billing the clients directly and ran off with the money, so the company went under and I never did find another company using LOGO again.

Too bad reality and theory almost never line up...

Re:A LOGO without graphics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20999191)

So find a company that uses LISP. It's even cooler (since I don't believe LOGO programs can be treated as data in quite the same way).

Re:A LOGO without graphics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20999897)

It's been a long time, but if I recall correctly, the TEXT method does that.
You say TEXT myprocedure and that returns the text of the procedure called myprocedure as a list containing a bunch of other lists which themselves contain the lines of text of the procedure in question.
You can then use the list operators (first last, butfirst, butlast sentence) to break apart or modify the definition.
Once you have a list that contains the text you want, you can then either re-DEFINE the procedure or create a whole new one.

Logo not just for kids (2, Informative)

Usquebaugh (230216) | about 7 years ago | (#20998329)

I've recently been playing with Logo, I'm a veteran of the dev trenches and have gone through SICP.

I picked up all the 80s books I could find that used Logo to teach geometry, algebra, music, language etc. I'm currently working my way through them. There is of course the Compu Sci series from Berkeley [] That I'm planning to go through next.

So for those of you who turned your nose up at logo because it's too simple for you may need to turn that statement around. Think Lisp without the parens.

The Turtle killed Logo (3, Insightful)

Tracy Reed (3563) | about 7 years ago | (#20998445)

The turtle was the worst thing to ever happen to Logo. Logo is a full featured language capable of doing anything other languages can. But because we were all introduced to the turtle at relatively young ages and nobody ever showed us how to do anything more than draw simple pictures we all concluded that it was only a toy and not for serious use. Only now, years later, do I realize how wrong that was.

For those who want to rediscover Logo and learn what it was *really* all about you can go to the website of Brian Harvey, a logo guru: []

On this website you can download a nice series of textbooks about Logo and also download the Berkeley Logo implementation of the language. I was surprised to find that Logo is a functional programming language. I am also studying Lisp, Scheme, Haskell, and Erlang and find the whole concept of functional programming to be very interesting. It is getting hot again and will become a critical part of programming if we are to take advantage of multi-core cpu's.

I am constantly amazed by just how vast this industry really is. I wish it hadn't taken me so long to realize this and I am saddened that so many people coming out of school these days have no clue that there is anything other than Java and Dot Not out there.

Re:The Turtle killed Logo (1)

muchtooold (826024) | about 7 years ago | (#20999123)

Some background might be useful. Logo was devised by Semour Papert et al at MIT in the 1960's with, to my recollection, the idea that immersing young children in a mathematical world could have them acquire mathematical understanding in much the same way that children immersed in a language world in a foreign country acquire a new language. (I haven't explained that very well -sorry). The 'turtle' is an essential component. For very young children it was presented as a programmable robotic device that would move around and, using a pen that could be raised and lowered, would draw shapes when correctly programmed. Children could then move on to the more abstract environment presented by screen and keyboard to explore concepts further.

Logo itself is a sophisticated list-processing language - as others have pointed out - employing advanced concepts particularly recursion. It is still extensively used those interested might like to look at

Logo is still used in schools in the UK from the age of 5 years. It has been further developed as language for introducing modelling and control to children from the age of 7.

I learned on both BASIC and LOGO. (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | about 7 years ago | (#20998495)

When I was 6, I was reading an old Apple //e manual that was lying around, learning BASIC out of it. Around the same time, I found the Apple LOGO II disks that my parents had had.

I got bored quickly with turtle graphics, though, and found that BASIC (Applesoft in my case) did what I wanted better. Besides, I didn't even have to boot into an OS to play with BASIC.

I ended up going for an associate's degree in computer programming. "Learned" VB, C++, RPG IV, and properly learned HTML and JavaScript.

That's not what I've found the most useful.

What I've found the most useful is Python, which I taught myself out of the back of an old RedHat 6 book that I got for $0.25. And, from what I've seen, it's probably the best modern language to teach someone, and probably better than the old languages - even the teaching languages like LOGO and BASIC.

Re:I learned on both BASIC and LOGO. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20998725)

Around the same time, I found the Apple LOGO II disks that my parents had had.

Was it as shocking as finding those unlabeled 5.25 floppies in your father's nightstand drawer?

Back in the day... (1)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | about 7 years ago | (#20998551)

I touched on logo thanks to having an Amstrad 512k XT. It came with Locomotive basic, which included a logo dialect.

It was a good way to explore geometry, trigonometry and vector maths in an instant feedback environment, but was next to useless for any practical programming purpose. As such, it does make a decent educational tool, but not for learning programming, rather just for geometry.

As such, its uniqueness should be celebrated for the fact that while it is impractical for typical tasks it has survived for 40 years catering perfectly to an educational niche.

Ah, the memories... (1)

somegeekynick (1011759) | about 7 years ago | (#20998637)

LT 40 RT 50 LT 40 RT 50 ... ... ...

Set the Way Back Machine to about 1981 . . . (1)

Darth_Foo (608063) | about 7 years ago | (#20998765)

. . . and open that big box from Computability (anyone remember them?). Inside was my Atari 400, 410 Program Recorder and two cartridges: Atari Basic and Atari LOGO. I loved LOGO and hoped at the time that Byte or some of the other computer mags of the day would print program listings for it, but alas it was not to be - it came down to just me and my imagination, making Spirographs on the color TV. :-)

My logo experience (1)

saboola (655522) | about 7 years ago | (#20999427)

It was 1991 and I was very proud of my attempt at drawing a terminator (Terminator 2 was the big movie that prior summer) using LOGO. I got my grade for my drawing, and received an "A" for my drawing of a monkey..... It was a terminator damnit....

Scratch - LOGO in spirit for a new century? (2, Informative)

qaseqase (746962) | about 7 years ago | (#20999553)

I recently introduced my kids to programming with Scratch [] rather than LOGO. It does include everything that LOGO does, but it has a lot of benefits that make the feedback from programming more immediate and accessible, and the web site is great for sharing ideas, sprites, etc.

Alice is still around? (1)

gravis777 (123605) | about 7 years ago | (#20999659)

Wow, I have not heard people talk about Alice in years, I thought it was dead.

Turtle forever!

Alice for the future! (2, Informative)

Judebert (147131) | about 7 years ago | (#20999889)

I've been trying to get my elder daughters (12 and 9 years old) interested in programming. I tried Squeek (a LOGO-like subset of Scheme), which they enjoyed... for a little while. The eldest actually started writing up routines for the entire alphabet, but eventually lost interest. Coincidentally, I found Alice about three weeks ago.

For kids, Alice has the staying power that Squeek and LOGO don't. It allows them to set up an entire 3D world and tell a story without ever making a single syntax error. They can even make their own interactive games, which is what they really want to do. No hunting for misspellings, no looking up methods or operators in website documentation, no Googling. Just programming, fast and simple. They don't even realize they're programming; they think they're having fun, and they are!

Sure, Alice has a few shortcomings. There's NO DEBUGGER. Polymorphism isn't implemented. Custom methods aren't displayed in the world view. It's hard to produce new models. But on the other hand, it's got my kids thinking like object-oriented programmers, having fun, and producing stuff they love.

I think the submitter nailed it with "Alice will be the wave of the future".

Scratch is the new Logo (2, Informative)

jeblucas (560748) | about 7 years ago | (#21000115)

Scratch [] from the MIT Media Lab is everything I got out of Logo when I was kid except more fun. Kids can still learn recursion, sprite manipulation, even some coler stuff I don't remember from Mr. Keating's 6th grade symposia on the wonders of "mt". I have sent this link on to anyone that haskids and a computer. Awesome fun, and what the hell--some learning to boot.

Alice doesn't live *where* anymore? (2, Funny)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 7 years ago | (#21000167)

From the website:

Try Alice out for yourself. Available on all three platforms - PC, Mac and Linux
Given that Alice is "a free gift to you form Carnegie Mellon University", you would think they would know that there are more than three platforms in the world. On the other hand, at least they don't think "all three platforms" are XP, Vista, and DOS.

Thoughts on Marketing (1)

Braxton_Bragg (902868) | about 7 years ago | (#21000393)

Yes, I used LOGO (on a TI994A). I realize that LOGO was a precursor to Smalltalk. And, I thought LOGO was brilliant at the time. The abstraction betwixt man-machine was handled brilliantly, IMHO. I think that I have now seen too many brilliant products smashed by marketing. My short list includes : DRDOS, ATARI ST, AMIGA, NeXT and NextStep, Geoworks, GNU/Linux, Berkeley BSD, Sun, and the Motorola 68k. Please pardon me for being cynical about the limited choice of products we have now. Some of these products I like(d) are bound to be smashed as well.

my introduction to computers (1)

Mordac (1009) | about 7 years ago | (#21000763)

2nd grade, art class. We got to go to the computer lab, with some Apple computers and learned about Logo and basic geometry. Was my first time ever on a computer, and boy was I hooked. We were supposed to make art in there (pretty coloured circles and such) yet I spent all my time in those classes trying to draw an airplane.

It was pathetic, it was awful looking, it got me hooked into math and computers for life :)

OT (1)

AutoTheme (851553) | about 7 years ago | (#21000839)

T(#ME>#YOU):PILOT roxorz

Logo on the Sinclair Spectrum (Apple II clone) (1)

dangil (167785) | about 7 years ago | (#21000847)

I still have my 5 1/4 discs with LOGO and my little apps...
the one I am most proud of is a bar, with a ticking clock and everything...
It took me a week to sync the clock...

One missing option... of OS X (1)

Angostura (703910) | about 7 years ago | (#21002059)

The linked page seems to miss out the rather nice, free . Worth a look. []

I used logo a lot when I was in my early teens. There was a very very nice implementation for the ZX Spectrum (stop laughing at the back). Not only did it let me have fun with recursion and drawing fractal images, it also had the LISP syntax in full. I probably had more fun extending the language with new commands and writing a pretty decent Eliza program, than I did with the Turtle stuff.

Stephen Sesko's Team Logo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21002135)

In California there's a program called GATE (Gifted And Talented Education) where education projects get extra funding by the state. In it's earlier years there were several optional programs and one required class for all GATE students. LOGO was a required class for 4th grade students in my area. One afternoon each week we were bussed to a facility run by Lawrence Labs and Dr. Stephen Sesko.

Dr. Sesko worked with a large number of students, and each year selected a group of them for an intensive 3 week course over the summer covering more advanced programming concepts than could not be accomplished one afternoon each week. Known as Team Logo, the group spent mornings working on assigned projects relating to the 'theme' that summer, and spent the afternoons trying to write viruses to play tricks on fellow students. Themes ranged from graphics and music, to robotics (lego logo for Apple IIgs) and Turing machines. I know several members have gone on to work in computing fields - including myself - but the rigors of learning a programming language at a young age teach people problem solving skills applicable to any endeavor.

I think I still have my 5.25" floppies somewhere...

Hats off to Dr. Sesko!
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