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Best Introductory Computer System For Kids


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#1 TemplarXB OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 6:58 AM

What does everyone recommend as the best computer to introduce a child to?  I put it under classic computers because it seems that you can get much closer to the metal on an old 8bit, but I'm open to any suggestions of modern systems, i.e, Raspberry Pi, old laptop, etc.

 

Ideally I'd like my son, when he's older, to be able to get familiar operating a keyboard with simple educational games and move up to simple programing, as opposed to just using a modern appliance like iPad like most kids seem to be doing now.

 

Off the top of my head I'd think TI/99a - simple and very cheap, Apple IIe - tons of educational software and expandable.

 

I also have  an Atari 800XL and  love that, so  another option is to set up an XEGS I have since I have it already and it seems pretty robust. Maybe get a 400 which seems pretty child friendly with the membrane keyboard and then graduate to the XEGS? 

 

Or, do I dispatch with the whole classic computer angle, and set up a locked down cheap laptop?

 


#2 VectorGamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:39 AM

Get a PC and load it with DOS and Win 3.1. At least they'll acquire skill working with the command line.



#3 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:53 AM

I'd go with a classic computer for sure. The TI (or Atari since you already have them) immediately comes to mind and by design, will force him to learn his way around the iron in no time. BASIC and especially Extended BASIC are incredibly easy to use and powerful to boot. Can easily whip up some graphics, throw sprites around, create sound effects and even music. The keyboard leaves a little to be desired at first, but didn't prevent me from becoming a speed demon on standard keys in later years. :)

If you throw a modern computer at him, he's likely to become distracted by the OS, software and the internet. Look at how kids treat and view computers today... they're not doing a whole lot of programming, let alone understand much of what's under the hood and how it all works. They simply don't care. With a classic computer, you deal with the computer in such a way to get it to do much of anything, and I think there's real value to that kind of experience when learning about this stuff.

#4 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:13 AM

I think this is a game of pick your flaws.

I like the TI, but to even use bitmapped graphics requires a 3rd party utility and the system is extremely locked down.
It also uses ANSI BASIC which is much different than Microsoft.  You can get used to it, but I'll never be thrilled with it.
There are also fewer hardware upgrades than for the the Atari or C64 

The Atari has good hardware, and a good though non-standard BASIC.  The string handling and file IO functions are the biggest limitation.
The standard BASIC is slow, but not there are faster upgrades if you really want them.
For all it's strengths and hardware, it lacks even basic support for the player / missile graphics which leaves you to use add on machine language.
It also requires understanding display lists if you want to do anything very colorful. 

The C64 hardware sprites are easier but the BASIC has no Extended BASIC features. Simon's BASIC adds Extended BASIC features, but it's non-standard.

The CoCo and Plus/4 have very good Extended BASICs, but they don't have hardware sprites, but the CoCo does offer software sprites. 
The CoCo doesn't have a sound chip to generate noise while you are doing something else, but it does have good sound and music support if you don't mind the computer stopping while it makes noise.  It's possible to generate sound at the same time the machine is doing other things through software, but it requires machine language.
The Plus/4 has sound hardware, but it's pretty simple hardware.  Every major sound chip out there is better.
The Plus/4's BASIC gives you access to more RAM from BASIC than any machine to come before it, so it's good for writing large programs.
GW BASIC on the PC is almost identical to the CoCo's BASIC.
The CoCo 3 has 16 color graphics that don't require messing with display lists.  You can use any of the 16 colors from the selected palette on any pixel.  This makes it more like the Atari or Amiga.

The 6502 lacks a lot of things that are required for efficient compiler support, but there are compilers for it.

The 6809 in the CoCo supports high level languages like C and Pascal quite well.  If you want to graduate to a Unix like environment, OS-9 will let you do that and there are compilers for several languages that run underneath it.  BASIC-09 is a bit of a cross between BASIC and PASCAL and offers a pretty good introduction to compilers.  Several commercial games were written in it.

 

The C128 inherits the BASIC from the Plus/4 and adds new features as well has having more speed, C64 compatibility, and the option of CP/M to learn the Z80.

 

The Apple II has one of the largest selections of kids software out there.  The M.E.C.C. series alone is worth having one if you have kids.
The CFFA 3000 board lets you run most things without copy protection direct from a USB thumb drive or CF card. 
This is pretty comparable to what you'd find on the Atari, but you don't have to worry about multi-carts vs disk images, etc...
It has no hardware sprites, and you are left dealing with shape tables or machine language to draw them.  
There is no sound hardware and you are left with third party addons or machine language for that.

The Apple IIgs is a different beast than the older Apple IIs.  It is clocked faster than any 6502 machine outside of the Apple II line, it has some of the best sound hardware out there, excellent graphics, a GUI, and can support megabytes of RAM.
But to take advantage of that requires some sort of 3rd party BASIC.  The 65816 does support high level languages better than the 6502.
The large color palette and mode where you can have a different palette every few lines makes it one of the easiest machines to display a lot of colors on.
Despite the nice new graphics modes, the CPU can't access the screen at full speed.
Some people will claim it's a 16 bit CPU, but the original opcodes take the same amount of time, so... it's kind of a moot point. 
If you go with an Apple, you might as well get the IIgs IMHO.

I would also suggest the Amiga.  You can do a lot with it from AmigaBASIC, but AmigaBASIC doesn't like extended RAM.
My company Designing Minds used Absoft BASIC to develop for the Amiga.  I wrote a C/Assembly library to load IFF pictures, load and play IFF sounds, and to perform color cycling.
The Talking Storybook, Great States II, and World Tour series were all developed with Absoft BASIC and that library.  
The library also works from regular AmigaBASIC.
It's pretty cool being able to draw a picture in Deluxe Paint, record some sound samples and just call the LoadILBM, etc... functions and it's just there in your program.

You can find pics of most of them off the following page, and download them from the 2nd link.

http://www.mobygames...gning-minds-inc

http://www.theoldcom...ucational/[ADF]

 

If you go with a PC, you can get used thin clients that offer more speed, better features, and better reliability than old systems for around $30 for the machine, and they can attach to the back of an LCD monitor.
They should run any old software a current PC can run, and they can run a lot of new software as well.  They are certainly fast enough to emulate any of the 8 bit machines.
You also won't have to mess with a bunch of boards from different manufacturers.  You'll probably just have to download the system drivers and create a CF card with everything on it.


You don't say where you are from, but there are some other good options if you are in Europe.

 

The Spectrum, no hardware sprites, no sound chip on the early models, but it has a decent though slow BASIC.   
I hate the keyword entry technique, but it might be better for a child.  You can replace the ROM to allow typing keywords out which I find much easier.

 

The BBC has an odd BASIC, so I'm not so fond of it.  But it is fast.  It has sound hardware, but no sprite hardware.  Running at 2MHz, it's one of the fastest 6502 machines.

The Oric has a good extended BASIC.  No sprites, but it has built in sound hardware and there are built in commands for certain sounds which can make programming easy.  
The graphics are... unique though.  You can get very good results if you know what you are doing, but simple it's not.  

 

The Amstrad CPC has an excellent Extended BASIC from what I've seen.  It has sound hardware but lacks sprite hardware on all but the plus machines.
The plus machines are some of the best 8 bits ever made hardware wise IMHO.  But they did come out about when other 8 bits started dying off.

People with some real experience on those would be able to tell you more than I can.
 


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#5 monzamess OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:27 AM

My kids are technologically savvy and have free access to my classic computers. They have ZERO interest. They don't hold a candle to Minecraft, Roblox, and other kid-oriented creative sandboxes. Even though I started coding on a Timex Sinclair 1000 and loved it (even as I dreamed of owning a more powerful system), if I had the choices back then that my kids have, I wouldn't have touched these classic systems either. Just my experience.

#6 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:52 PM

My kids are technologically savvy and have free access to my classic computers. They have ZERO interest. They don't hold a candle to Minecraft, Roblox, and other kid-oriented creative sandboxes. Even though I started coding on a Timex Sinclair 1000 and loved it (even as I dreamed of owning a more powerful system), if I had the choices back then that my kids have, I wouldn't have touched these classic systems either. Just my experience.

Yeah, it's pretty kid specific.  Some kids dive right in and others... meh.
I'm thinking if you want to teach BASIC from an old 8 bit, you could launch an emulator full screen and let them have at it.
If they show interest, then get them a machine... if that's what they want. 
You'll have to honestly ask if they doing it to make you happy or because they are interested.

Programming isn't for everyone.
 



#7 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:23 PM

In 1977 I learned an extraordinary amount of conceptual information on the VCS and Apple II. Information and ways of thinking I use to this very day.

 

Kids don't have to turn into computer geeks or get into programming in order to reap the benefits.



#8 TemplarXB OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:34 PM

I'd go with a classic computer for sure. The TI (or Atari since you already have them) immediately comes to mind and by design, will force him to learn his way around the iron in no time. BASIC and especially Extended BASIC are incredibly easy to use and powerful to boot. Can easily whip up some graphics, throw sprites around, create sound effects and even music. The keyboard leaves a little to be desired at first, but didn't prevent me from becoming a speed demon on standard keys in later years. :)

If you throw a modern computer at him, he's likely to become distracted by the OS, software and the internet. Look at how kids treat and view computers today... they're not doing a whole lot of programming, let alone understand much of what's under the hood and how it all works. They simply don't care. With a classic computer, you deal with the computer in such a way to get it to do much of anything, and I think there's real value to that kind of experience when learning about this stuff.

That's what I was thinking.  I think modern systems are just way too distracting and think a classic system would let him focus in on problem solving as opposed to watching toy reviews on Youtube.

 

My first computer was a C128 when I was in the 4th grade.  I still have it, although only the monitor works now.  



#9 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:43 PM

I think a computer under DOS would be the best idea.
But it depends on what you want them to understand.
I see a lot of people talk about BASIC... Learning BASIC is good to... teach you about BASIC.
BASIC might be good for kids to understand that a computer program is made of a language, but that's bout it.
Give them a 386 or 486 with DOS; they'll learn about transferring files, the still used logic of file management, what is a partition, hard drive, RAM, video resolution (with different games that need different requirement).
I'm sure than more than 90% of people that use a computer or digital stuff in general doesn't understand the bare concept of files. And doesn't understand what is the hard drive, RAM, that your display is independant from your computer, but resolution isn't, etc.
You sure can introduce them to older computers, but you cna do that AND also help them understanding the modern systems... as they ae just fancier iterations of older stuff.


#10 Osgeld ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:50 PM

What age we talking about I'm still a child a 38 years old but seriously there's a huge difference tween a 6 year old and a 12 year old

#11 TemplarXB OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 5:11 PM

What age we talking about I'm still a child a 38 years old but seriously there's a huge difference tween a 6 year old and a 12 year old

I've got a few years to go still - mine is only 3 months.  I plan to introduce a keyboard around two years for educational programs.  My two year old niece is already unlocking an iPhone and watching Youtube.



#12 Osgeld ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 19, 2017 5:27 PM

mine just turned 2, we dont let her on anything connected like phones or tablets, but for 20 something bucks I got her a leap frog laptop that just limits activity to ABC's 123's and that stuff, she loves it, and its not a big deal when it gets hit in a hissyfit



#13 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:32 AM

That's what I was thinking.  I think modern systems are just way too distracting and think a classic system would let him focus in on problem solving as opposed to watching toy reviews on Youtube.

 

My first computer was a C128 when I was in the 4th grade.  I still have it, although only the monitor works now.  

Don't give the machine access to Wifi and youtube won't be an issue.



#14 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:42 AM

 

I think a computer under DOS would be the best idea.
But it depends on what you want them to understand.
I see a lot of people talk about BASIC... Learning BASIC is good to... teach you about BASIC.
BASIC might be good for kids to understand that a computer program is made of a language, but that's bout it.
Give them a 386 or 486 with DOS; they'll learn about transferring files, the still used logic of file management, what is a partition, hard drive, RAM, video resolution (with different games that need different requirement).
I'm sure than more than 90% of people that use a computer or digital stuff in general doesn't understand the bare concept of files. And doesn't understand what is the hard drive, RAM, that your display is independant from your computer, but resolution isn't, etc.
You sure can introduce them to older computers, but you cna do that AND also help them understanding the modern systems... as they ae just fancier iterations of older stuff.

 

That's great if your kid wants to be an admin or do tech support. 
But ultimately it's like teaching them program.
You are picking a skill set aimed at a specific career.
 



#15 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:22 AM

Knowing how a computer works is tech support or admin level?

For me it's as basic as knowing that a car need gas, oil and where those goes (at least the gas). Or that light works with the help of that mysterious white plastic square on the wall.

 

http://coding2learn....-use-computers/

 

A kid puts her hand up in my lesson. 'My computer won't switch on,' she says, with the air of desperation that implies she's tried every conceivable way of making the thing work. I reach forward and switch on the monitor, and the screen flickers to life, displaying the Windows login screen. She can't use a computer.

 

A teacher brings me her school laptop. 'Bloody thing won't connect to the internet.' she says angrily, as if it were my fault. 'I had tonnes of work to do last night, but I couldn't get on-line at all. My husband even tried and he couldn't figure it out and he's excellent with computers.' I take the offending laptop from out of her hands, toggle the wireless switch that resides on the side, and hand it back to her. Neither her nor her husband can use computers.

 

If for you, that's "tech support/admin" well, you should start to worry about your skills.

Knowing that a computer use software AND hardware to work is a basic skill to me - not as important as reading and writing, but as important as knowing the basics of electricity and general safety (don't mix bleaching with acids, etc...)

I remember talking with people that taught how to use computers to various people in the mid 90's.

Some of them directly used Windows 95, and others started with DOS.

For most of them, the users that started with DOS had a longer learning time - to remember commands - but in the long run, those people knew how the system file worked, where programs were and that *.exe and *.bat files were programs. People that started with windows 95 had less to no idea that their files were somewhere in the computer, they simply knew that they were in the "open file" option of the software they were using.

That's not admin skills to know what your file is, and where it is stored.

 

I can agree that knowing what a CPU, GPU RAM and hard drive might be a bit overkill, but it's not rocket science either -and computers are like LEGO, it's pretty easy to assemble and dissasemble.

It can be a good exercise and a family moment between parents and kids to build an old computer and get it running.

And it's not about learning about IRQ and all that jazz. Just plug'n'play.


Edited by CatPix, Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:30 AM.


#16 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:58 PM

I misread your post and thought you said to teach them how to partition a drive.

Teaching kids what RAM, ROM, hard drives, solid state drives, partitions, CPUs, or whatever are will occupy less than an hour. 
It may take them longer to remember it, but stuff like that is so basic you'll be left saying now what do we do.
It is something that they should probably know eventually.



#17 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 20, 2017 2:38 PM

I don't think a classic computer would teach much in the way of relevant skills.

Any modern beater PC will do, lock the browser to a few specific sites. I would start a motivated kid on Scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu/) and a reluctant kid with educational web games and general learning things like BrainPop. Your kids' school should have some suggested resources, too.

Presenting ancient hardware will just make the kid run away screaming. Leave the stuff out, let him discover it, but if you push it, he'll resist. Don't make it seem like medicine, and maybe he'll find his way around to it -- but don't count on that happening!

#18 matthew180 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:20 PM

This thread touches on a lot of topics and questions I think all of us have had about how to get their kids, or the younger generations, into computing, programming, or retro-computers.  I don't think there is any one answer and it mostly depends on the child rather than the technology.  For me personally, neither of my kids inherited any kind of technical interest in computers from me, no matter how many times I tried or approaches (real classic hardware, emulation, different languages, etc.) I took to get them interested.

 

IMO, getting into programming starts with curiosity to know how a machine works and a desire to solve problems.  This does not apply to only computers, but any kind of "thing".  A child who always asks "how does that work?" or who wants to take things apart will probably have an attraction to computers on their own, and all you have to do is make the technology available.  When I was growing up, my parent's friends would call me "the button man", I always wanted to take everything apart to see how it worked, and I had to touch everything.  My dad used to complain to my mother "one day he is going to pull back a stub..." (I still have all my fingers! :-) )  Before I got a computer (around age 12), LEGO consumed a huge portion of my life.

 

Even though I love computers and technology, I disagree with the popular idea that everyone should (or can) learn to program.  The common arguments are ideas like "technology is the future and kids need to know how the tech works", and "programming teaches problem solving", etc.  That is like saying "since we all drive cars, everyone should learn to be a mechanic".  Problem solving can be learned in many ways; and actually learning to solve problems with computers is a very small subset of problem-solving skills you need just to survive in life (it is proven that learning to program will not help you solve the problem of how to meet a girl! ;-) )

 

During the golden era of home computers, I think the people with the computers were the geeks, i.e. the kids and adults who were naturally drawn to the computers.  These days, the number of geeks is the same, it is just that we are now down in the noise since computers are as common and ubiquitous as cars or TVs and everyone has one now.  The number of people "using" computers compared to those who are getting involved on a technical level is so massive that it seems interest is fading.  The number of geeks in the world is constant no matter how many people are using computers.

 

As for the best introductory computer for kids, it depends.  Some kids will like the classic systems because they are different and interesting, others might be drawn to a more modern setup that allows easily working with sound and graphics.

 

Classic systems with floppy disks are nice because they will have ROM BASIC and offer very little barrier to getting started.  They have all the sound and graphics built-in, and there are literally thousands of type-in programs and books available.  Using system like this also helps with the idea of files and disks, since a floppy is tangible, slow, and can be filled up.  Once those concepts are understood, the leap to larger and faster disks and flash media makes sense.  For ROM BASIC I like the MSX system, and they are usually pretty cool looking.

 

For a modern system, I'm not very fond of Scratch; it hides too much and leaps directly into using complex graphics and sound which can be confusing.  IMO something like MS SmallBasic or Processing is a good way to start on a modern platform.  You don't need fancy graphics or sound.  One of the few times I did get my kids to try programming we wrote a 0..12 multiplication game in SmallBasic to help with homework.  When they were done, they were just as excited and proud to show their game to their mom as if it were the best 3D FPS on earth.  They then proceeded to challenge each other for an hour on who could do the most correct multiplications in 60 seconds.

 

This is the trend every time I managed to trick them into spending a little time coding.  When they are done, it does not matter what *they created*, they are always very proud and excited to share with their other family members.  Graphics and sounds do not make programming fun, it is the satisfaction of having created something and sharing; and this is especially true even for us in the hobby.  For this reason I also think programming is more successful in a group setting where you have peers working on the same problem.

 

Anyway, just my two-cents, and probably too much opinion and blabbing.



#19 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:44 PM

There are a few things I'd consider....

 

1) Is what the kid will learn RELEVANT?  Learning old outdated hardware & software might not pose any thrill.

     A more modern and limited system might do the trick.  The person can learn something that's still in use,

     so that may help them find a job someday too.

 

2) Is it designed to ENCOURAGE learning?  Or will it simply become a game platform.

 

3) Is it affordable?

   

I very recently obtained a Raspberry Pi, for other reasons, but it does give one that 'feeling' that the other machines 'back in the day' gave us.  Another Atari Age member suggested << THIS UNIT >> to me.  It has just enough to get you up and running, but it comes with the tools for those who wish to learn.



#20 Osgeld ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:31 PM

never understood "that feeling" of the poo er pi

 

yea I get it, its a kit, it does nifty things, once you plop it in a box and load its os its just linux on a weak computer, you know what else is linux on a weak computer? linux on a weak computer ... I bought 2 netbooks last year that can compete on par with a pi3, and doesnt crash when trying to load google in a web browser for 25 bucks a pop, display, storage, power and input all included 

 

in the end whatever makes you happy, but you can learn python (which is a horrid language) on just about anything, as far as learning on a pi, about the only thing I have (re) learned from it is how infurriating it is when your following a how-to and not a single damn bit of it works.

 

just cause the linux god committee decided to move everything in the file system and depreciate that one library that makes the entire thing tick. the only thing I have ever done with them is turn them into a gaming console, cause in the end, generally speaking, they are too complicated and fragile for simple tasks (like monitoring inputs and triggering outputs), and too simple and underpowered to do anything that you might want to unleash its raw clock speed (lack of ram, slow storage, expansion limited to bit banging the gpio or usb)


Edited by Osgeld, Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:37 PM.


#21 eightbit ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:41 PM

Personally I say build him a budget NEW machine. I fart around with Commodores and old Pentiums because I have nostalgia for them. My kids however do not. The new of today with be their nostalgia tomorrow. That aside, I have to agree with Flojomojo that the kid is not really going to obtain any real relevant skills that he will need going forward from today using some old machine learning skills of yesteryear in today's world. Right now you should be concentrating on building him a new computer that he can use with the latest software and technology. And, it is cheaper and easier than ever to do this...starting with the AMD A4-7300 A Series CPU:

 

https://www.amazon.c...X/dp/B00MU00HGK

 

This is currently the most inexpensive CPU on the market and it is actually EXCELLENT. I built a budget PC around this and a $40 Gigabyte motherboard for it and the results were more than I had hoped for. The system screams along....from 4K video playback, video editing, office stuff, internet, light gaming..etc. And, you can use it to do real work things of today. This is my primary modern work PC...I do everything on it.

 

You can build a seriously nice new system for him using this CPU and keep it at around the $200 mark. You can get him involved in the building process too...showing him how to do it and he will not only have a great PC at the end of the day but will have the knowledge of how it is all put together on the inside. 

 

All of this assumes you know how to put PC's together that is ;)


Edited by eightbit, Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:55 PM.


#22 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:57 PM

Oh yeah, I agree there are better ways to go.  However, when it comes to kids, they are like horses, you can lead them to water, but you can't make them drink.  I was figuring an inexpensive Rpi could be an introduction of sorts, and *IF* the kid bites, you could always upgrade him then.  If the kid shows no interest, he would not be out much.

 

I'm using the Rpi's browser right now and have not had a lick of problems with it.  In fact I kind of like using it on AtariAge because it's plugged in a big screen TV. 



#23 SignGuy81 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:35 PM

My 2 cents.

 

The newest computer you can find.  Sure we all grew up with the old stuff and helped us learn a lot more about how computers work than one would ever learn from using what is provided now in the newest Windows where everything is thought of and done for you to where anyone with limited to no skills can get on one and start whatever they are planning to do on the computer.  We had to figure out how to load a program DOS, load device drivers, etc. 

 

I have a fairly new desktop computer(last 10 years) that me and my daughter both uses with Windows 7, she uses it more I'm mostly on my laptop as I am now.  With that newer computer I can put software on there that she can actually use and be productive with, such as the latest office software, Microsoft Visual Studio, blender, game maker studio, freecad, etc.  Software she can actually learn and be productive with and be more prepared for computers in school and college when she gets there.



#24 matthew180 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:43 PM

One comment I have seen a few times is that the old computers won't teach kids anything relevant to today's computers.  I very much disagree with that statement.  Computers today are *exactly* the same as computers where ever since they started using the stored-program architecture.  All computers fetch, decode, execute, and store instructions.  Memory is still measured in bytes, and the byte is still the basic atomic unit of storage.  The only difference with today's computers is speed and density, but they still work the same way.  Also, using old systems can give a better feeling for data storage, and how much 32K or 1MB *really* is.

 

The assembly languages I learned on classic CPUs still applies today, and I use those skills every day at my job.  In fact, almost *no* modern programmers even have a clue how the computers work.  Most programmers these days are stuck in high-level languages and hide behind so many abstractions that it is a wonder anything even works (and in a lot of cases things are very broken, like security and privacy for exactly these reasons).  If you try to mention that you are programming in assembly language or C, you will be flamed, shunned, and berated in most forums.  Mean-while, so-called "modern programmers" continue to hook their plug-ins to their favorite framework and make even the fastest computers we have bog-down and run slower than a game written in TI-BASIC.



#25 davidcalgary29 OFFLINE  

davidcalgary29

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Posted Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:18 AM

 

What does everyone recommend as the best computer to introduce a child to?  I put it under classic computers because it seems that you can get much closer to the metal on an old 8bit, but I'm open to any suggestions of modern systems, i.e, Raspberry Pi, old laptop, etc.

 

Ideally I'd like my son, when he's older, to be able to get familiar operating a keyboard with simple educational games and move up to simple programing, as opposed to just using a modern appliance like iPad like most kids seem to be doing now.

 

Off the top of my head I'd think TI/99a - simple and very cheap, Apple IIe - tons of educational software and expandable.

 

I also have  an Atari 800XL and  love that, so  another option is to set up an XEGS I have since I have it already and it seems pretty robust. Maybe get a 400 which seems pretty child friendly with the membrane keyboard and then graduate to the XEGS? 

 

Or, do I dispatch with the whole classic computer angle, and set up a locked down cheap laptop?

 

 

 

 

I wouldn't get a 400 unless Osgeld offers another one of the amazing A/V, memory, and SIO2SD jobs that he sold to me. A stock unit is too limited for just about anything the A8 line has to offer. The keyboard is a nice in theory, but not in practice, as there's no way I'm going to let my kids play around with a 37 year-old computer with dirty hands.

 

I don't see this issue has to be viewed in some binary context. Most of us have plenty of both retro systems and the modern junk -- let them choose! My kids use iPads, the CV, Jaguar, and modded XL, and enjoy using them all (except the PS4, which apparently features games that are Too Scary for the under ten crowd). I say expose 'em to all ranges of tech. :)






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