Return of the comments

We’re getting perilously close to that wonderful time of the year where everything shuts down for a week and your correspondent is half expecting his posting “schedule” to slip since he expects to be tied up for most of the day tomorrow and that’s when the next post is due. But, since the author has responded to a comment which was posted to his blog a couple of weeks back, here’s a “quickie” response to that and we’ll concentrate on the author’s missive:

I think you need to read some more of my posts on this blog. You say that “when getting a C64” you knew that you had to learn Machine Code and that you knew about an Assembler course in 1986.

Commenter “Alexander Axglimt” actually wrote that “when getting a c64, [he] undestood quite quickly that if you wanted to create a game or any usable program, you had to learn machine code” which isn’t the same thing at all so any assumptions made based on that misreading is, obviously, going to be questionable.[1] If anybody needs to read more it’s the author.

Both these statements indicate that you had some warning about the totally crappy built in Commodore BASIC V2 and that you bought it or were still using it in 1986, which was about a year to 18 months after I sold my Commodore 64.

Programming resources didn’t magically get better after the author threw in the towel and the author’s personal timeline has always been of questionable importance when discussing the experiences of other people.

My point is that people shouldn’t have started by trying to learn Machine Code/Assembler, but should have learnt to create graphics and sound in another language first. On other computers this language was BASIC.

The problem has always been that the author is merely stating an opinion and nothing more but somehow expecting to pass it off as fact; even John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz – the fathers of Dartmouth BASIC which is the basic template for most of the microcomputer implementations if you’ll excuse the “pun” – were less than complementary about their baby’s lack of structure, feeling that it limited the scale of program that could be produced and taught bad programming habits. For example, spaghetti code is a side effect of an unstructured BASIC (or using a structured one incorrectly) and there has been a huge amount of discussion over the years about the pros and cons things like the GOTO command.

It’s also worth noting that many people did indeed learn to create graphics and sound in BASIC on the C64, some with the aid of third party extensions and many more by learning the POKEs required; just because the author failed to do this it doesn’t follow that it was impossible.

[1] As an addendum (added to this post on the 18th of December), commenter “Alexander Axglimt” has responded to the author to counter the assumptions he made, saying:

Well no, i did not know about the “crappy” basic before i bought it, i think i bought it in -85 or something like that… the reason was because some of my friends had it and i thought it was awesome!

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