I respectfully disagree. Today's computers and computing devices are many multitudes more useful in the household because of their connectivity. Of course, that connectivity also makes them a greater tool for distraction, but, in any case, if we're being honest, it was a lot more effort to actually do useful things with computers back in our youth. Computers were also more for us back then as well, rather than for everyone like they are today. That in and of itself has pluses and minuses.
You stopped too soon. Connectivity, speed, memory, data storage, ease of use, size...
Agreed on doing useful things. Who would have even thought of using a computer that fits in your pocket to give you turn by turn directions somewhere.
That also applies with programming though. Now there are libraries to do just about everything. You just have to learn how to use them.
One of the biggest differences now, is there are examples of how to do almost anything you might want to try available for download.
The some of the problems with BASIC back in the day for me:
#1 Line numbers
#3 Designed around completness instead of performance
When I was younger I wanted to make games and BASIC was just too slow. There was the odd interesting languge that was designed for speed but these where not what you got with the machine. Then maybe when ST/Amiga came along you had STOS/AMOS/Blitz which where ok.
Compiled basics like IntyBasic and Batari Basic are totally different, they are designed to make games,
designed around the limitations of the hardware. They are BASIC , but are more related to Assembly - just sugar coated.
I actaully wish I had learned Assembly back in the 80s, because it was never as hard as I thought it was.
Every time I started working on a game on the CoCo, the graphics engine would just start looking good and I'd run out of RAM. It takes so much memory for graphics, sound, music, etc... that by the time you have that stuff the way you want it there isn't room for a lot of game logic on 8 bit computers. It took 12K just to have double buffered hi-res graphics on my CoCo. That leaves about 12K of free RAM for program space, of which the page flipping and sprite engine took around 4K, and I really needed at least 20K just for the game logic.
The first time I ever used a compiler I said screw BASIC, this is how things should work. I had sort of understood that before, but seeing it in action was an eye opener. If I had known Pascal in high school, I probably would have bought a Pascal compiler which would have helped with speed and memory limitations, but it just kicks the bottleneck down the road to something else. I would have needed to know assembly to create custom libraries and there was nobody around I could ask questions about that in high school. (oh of the joys of rural living) I still managed to embed some assembly in BASIC programs I wrote, but I didn't fully understand it until college. I think it was literally the first week of my assembly language class where everything clicked and I was off and running in assembly. But by then, I didn't have the time I used to in high school. I had to work part of the time, and I was more interested in spending my free time on women instead of computers.
The one area where I see the old BASICs having an advantage is complexity.
The complexity of programming under modern systems has drastically increased.
Using a compiler requires learning a lot before you can even print "HELLO WORLD".
Just setting up a development environment can be complex.
Then? Turn on the compute, type PRINT "HELLO WORLD" and hit return. Wow, look what I made the computer do!
You don't even have to declare all your variables.
I was helping a friend with a Java class a couple months ago.
Java requires setting up a development system, some understanding of compilers, and some understanding of object oriented programming before you can output hello world.
By that time several members of the class are wondering why anyone would want to do this for a living.
Edited by JamesD, Mon Sep 18, 2017 7:07 AM.