The C64 and computer literacy

The author’s supposed topic is computer literacy, but as mentioned previously, under the majority of definitions that isn’t about programming and even the definitions that do include it such as Wikipedia’s current entry only do so as an advanced skill up there with fixing broken hardware and using a computer for scientific research!

Looking at the C64 in terms of its impact on computer literacy in that context, we know it to be the 8-bit computer which sold more units overall than any of the competition so, logically, the impact has to be at least as great as any other platform if not more so. The C64 is remembered primarily as a games machine because… well, because that’s what a lot of them were used for, but C64s were also utilised for word processing, databases, spreadsheets, desktop publishing (with a full-blown GUI being available to make those tasks easier), connecting to and running bulletin boards and online services (including Compunet in the United Kingdom and Qlink in America, better known under it’s later name AOL), in education, for musical composition, as props for film and television[1], doing scientific research or even running businesses such as the Hilligoss Bakery in Brownsburg, Indiana who have a C64 for office work and up to two driving their point of sale equipment.

The C64s being used in those situations are not only performing the required tasks, they actively aid the people using them to they expand their computer literacy skills. The use of C64s as film props also requires at least degree of computer literacy on the part of the audience because the C64s in those scenes are being used as shorthand for a computer.

Actual definitions aside however, the author, however, sees programming as a more basic (if you’ll excuse what we’ll laughingly call the pun) computer literacy skill than any of the people who actually wrote the definitions or coined the phrase but that’s not exactly a problem either because the C64’s impact in this context is similarly far reaching; there is a huge amount of software out there and a significant percentage was written by people who learnt their craft on the C64 and, if the question is how easy the machine is to learn programming on, then all of these people’s experiences need to be taken into consideration even if the author doesn’t believe or indeed want that to happen.

Any astute readers of the author’s postss will probably have already noticed that the entries are all either written directly from his own personal perspective or revolve around fictional characters and situations, the latter of which are of course completely irrelevant. And, although your correspondent has, with only a light dusting of irony, put himself forward as a counterpoint to the author’s beliefs, he certainly isn’t basing what’s said here purely on his own experience; it’s built from decades of interacting with other programmers who started out working on the VIC 20 and C64.

[1] Your correspondent has recently been watching MacGyver on Netflix and spotted a second, but more obfuscated C64 not mentioned at the linked website:

It doesn't LOOK like a C64 but look at line 100!

It doesn’t LOOK like a C64 but zoom in and look at line 100!

The computer that’s actually about to explode isn’t a C64, but the BASIC listing spooling up it’s screen is presumably being supplied by one; it has Commodore style control codes for colour and screen clearance in the PRINT statements and the commands POKE53280,0 and POKE53281,0 on line 100.

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