Debunking The Power Of Logo (Part 1)
Oh dear. The author has his “teaching hat” on again and is giving the world another lecture in something he barely understands. As always with these posts, the bulk of what he’s written merely adds his own bias to what can be found at far more reputable sources online so we won’t bother with it.
According to LOGO supporters, ALL dialects of BASIC, even BBC BASIC, Sinclair Spectrum BASIC, AmigaBASIC, Simons’ BASIC, MSX BASIC, Sinclair QL SuperBASIC, and Laser BASIC are crap!
Because according to anybody who supports something, the other options are always crap – ask anybody who has a religion what they think about the other options for a similar result. For many if not all of the magazine articles the author wittered on about, the people writing them will be fans of Logo so comments like these have to be read as opinions and nothing else.
LOGO comes from the Greek word “logos”, meaning word, which indicates its emphasis on words instead of numbers to make programs. This means that the name of Tom Baker’s final Doctor Who adventure “Logopolis” (city of words) seems quite inappropriate, because the actual words spoken or intoned by the Logopolitans to create their program were hexadecimal numbers in their own language.
In computing, the term “word” is related to numbers rather than letters; Wikipedia describes it as “a fixed-sized group of digits (binary or decimal) that are handled as a unit by the instruction set and/or hardware of the processor”. So now the author is even being debunked by fictional planets…
The Commodore Horizons Issue No. 6 article (P47) exposes the very interesting and suppressed information “Most people bought their micro eager to learn programming, but now spend their time playing computer games. What happened to that initial enthusiasm? The answer is simple. It was destroyed by Basic”.
The article’s writer will have no actual evidence to back that claim up since there were no public surveys taken of computer use apart from those carried out by magazines which have to be considered “tainted” since they’re conducted amongst a sample which has already expressed certain preferences by purchasing the magazine. So no, that really can’t be considered “suppressed information”.
If anything, your correspondent’s stint selling home computers in the late 1980s gave him a better understanding than anything offered by the author since finding out what people wanted to do with a computer was part of that process. And based on what your correspondent witnessed personally, the majority had absolutely no interest in programming, with games being their primary concern.
People felt a sense of achievement using a few LOGO commands, sometimes in direct mode instead of in procedures, to draw graphic computer artwork. It can also be used to teach geometry far more easily than staring at a page in a text book like “Mr Wells” who nearly made me stay behind after school for 4 hours until the night classes started. This whole way of thinking is rejected by TMR, though.
Since a lot of what the author was writing about that topic was fiction, your correspondent rejected it on those grounds.
The Commodore 64 wasn’t a ground breaking computer, because it had hardware similar to other computers on the market at the same time, but no built in programming language that could easily control them.
Most of the computers the author has tried championing like the MSX, Spectrum or Amstrad CPC weren’t exactly breaking new ground either regardless of what the BASIC had access to, although the C64 does have a few innovations that people using some of those other 8-bits are to this day either trying to emulate in software or occasionally taking from the C64 motherboard to add to their own machines.
Of course, no computer was ever produced with LOGO built in, although early Atari computers were more flexible, with no language built in.
The C64 can completely disable its BASIC ROM and use whatever is connected via the cartridge port to replace it; that makes it just as flexible as the Atari 8-bit if not more so.
And why do we think there were no computers sold with Logo built in, dear reader? We certainly can’t assume that the various teams developing home computers from Apple, Sinclair, Acorn or the group behind the MSX machines just threw BASIC in without considering the other options and, if those very knowledgeable people who discounted Logo as a viable language, the author or indeed the writers promoting Logo aren’t in any position to be arguing with them.
Obviously, TMR won’t be interested in this, because he has already confessed to spectacularly and deliberating failing a French exam, but I passed mine a year early!
The word that the author was scrabbling vainly for there was “deliberately” and, considering how he struggles with English, we do have to wonder dear reader if he’s similarly poor at other languages.
 The variation between dialects or the Jupiter Ace shipping with a ROM-based Forth demonstrates that, each team customised the language to fit their own needs and ideals to the point where things which should have been cross compatible like string handling or arrays were done differently from machine to machine.