Debunking Julian Assange and The C64
First of all I should point out that Julian’s Mum’s name is supposed to be Christine, and he was allegedly born in 1971, but has often refused to give his age to reporters. Of course, I haven’t seen any hard evidence to support this. He could be an alien using a cover story for all I know!
And the author could be a giraffe on a unicycle for all we know dear reader, after all we’ve never seen a picture of him so what’s he hiding from us, eh? Perhaps the hooves are the reason why he wasn’t able to program the C64! As demonstrated, it’s remarkably easy to write this kind of garbage but your correspondent still can’t help but wonder whether the author has to put any effort in or if the aliens just make him do it?
So there you go. Julian Assange is a maths whiz, which I’ve already suggested that someone would need to be to program the C64! Not only that, but he was given a lot of access to the Commodore 64 not long after it came out before buying one. Perhaps the Commodore 64 was the only computer that particular electronics shop had in stock.
And this really isn’t a “there you go” moment dear reader because cherry picking from source material like this very obviously demonstrates absolutely nothing as regards the author’s “arguments” – we can’t even ascertain Assange’s level of mathematical ability, the text says they were “extraordinary” but based on whose standards? There isn’t any demonstrable correlation between his mathematical abilities and learning to program in there either and all of this still doesn’t explain away the C64 having more user-based software and people developing it than the 8-bit computers unless he feels that every single one of those people was a “maths whiz” of above average IQ.
Apart from this, it seems the family was on the run, so he was living on the edge, and his Mum was an artist. My Mum ran two shops instead, so this may be another influential factor.
This is quite badly written but perhaps the author is rather ham-fistedly trying to imply that Assanges mother would, as an artist, have encouraged him to learn but can’t actually demonstrate this to actually be the case or that it would make the slightest difference; similarly, being “on the run” is usually a distraction rather than something to focus the mind.
After reading this, my eviction was delayed again, so I did another search and found out from http://edition.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/12/01/assange.profile/ that Julian Assange’s Mum didn’t buy him a C64 until 1987, when he was allegedly 16. Why didn’t she buy him an Amiga A500 instead?! I’m shocked.
Presumably she did that because he was interested in the C64 and wanted one, having spent time learning it already; teenagers have always tended towards nagging their parents for the computer or console they’ve already seen or played at a friend’s house. And we should remember that the Amiga’s price would have been prohibitive for a single parent family “on the edge” (significantly more so by the time the RAM was expanded and a second disk drive added as most users planning to use one for more than merely playing games would usually do) so the C64 would have been the less expensive option even with a disk drive and there is absolutely nothing shocking to be found in that decision whatsoever.
To get online in the days before the Internet was widely available, people needed some “comms” software to make their computer handle the same protocols used by other computers. This meant that widely different computers were using a common language to connect and share data. Surprise, surprise, this wasn’t Commodore BASIC V2, or even 6502 Assembly Language/Machine Code!
Is it really a surprise to anybody apart from the author that this would be the case dear reader, and we have to pause and wonder why he doesn’t mention that every other computer was in this situation? Whilst communications software used common protocols to allow different computers to connect to each other, that “common language” isn’t supported natively by any of them so, for example, the software at the C64’s end is usually implemented in either pure 6502 assembly language or on occasions a hybrid of that and BASIC V2.
So to sum up, it’s no real surprise that Julian Assange could find out how to program the Commodore 64, but I want to know how someone with an average or even below average IQ could have discovered how to program it, apart from creating exclusively text based programs.
So to sum up, the author still hasn’t demonstrated that people with “an average or even below average IQ” would struggle with the C64, that any significant numbers of people who fell into this group tried and subsequently failed or even that said people would have better luck trying to learn on any other platform either. And even if he’s presenting himself as someone with “an average or even below average IQ” as some kind of example that doesn’t prove anything since neither he or indeed Julian Assange as individuals are representative of the population as a whole.
But since the author erroneously believes otherwise we can use your correspondent as an example too; he currently has no idea what his own IQ is but would be pleasantly surprised if it were significantly above average and could never be considered a “maths whiz” either unless said term is being applied with quite a large degree of either generosity or more likely sarcasm. Instead your correspondent learnt to program in Commodore BASIC V2 before he was a teenager and 6502 assembly language a few years after that because he aimed for a series of reasonably specific but achievable goals in mind and was persistent, nothing more. That’s no different to the stories your correspondent has heard from other people who taught themselves on a range of 8-bit systems.
 Cheaper third party alternatives to Commodore’s 1541 disk drive were also available by that time, but suffered compatibility issues with some commercial fastloaders – this wouldn’t be an issue for anybody programming or indeed hacking with the C64 of course.
 In fact those protocols are still in use today at least for the C64, with a few traditional bulletin boards still in service and even more offering their wares over the internet.