Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 26 / JULY 1982 / PAGE 187


Fun with Microcomputers and BASIC

Fred D'Ignazio
Associate Editor

Do you like puzzles and games?

Are you looking for a quick, painless way to learn how to program a personal computer?

Are you a kid, an adult, or something in between ?

If you answered yes to all these questions, then this book is for you.

I am a person who has a low pain threshold, when it comes to plowing through "introductory" guides to personal computers. "Ouch!" I cry when I see guides set in a midget-sized typeface that resembles footprints made by a tapdancing flea.

The same goes when I see guides with no pictures, or guides that are too technical, too serious, too somber, or too trivial. These books give me indigestion – the same lumpy discomfort I experience when I swallow a plateful of spaghetti and meatballs I forgot to chew.

Don Spencer's book is different. It's fun, it really teaches, and it's an almost painless introduction to microcomputers and BASIC programming.

The book starts at a lofty level. In the first ten pages, Spencer skims over computers' social impact, computer devices, trends, and careers.

Then you get down to business. You plan a program, learn a little about flowcharting, get a few tips on how to write your first program.

Then you dive into BASIC. For twenty pages, you swim through constants and variables, arithmetic operations and DATA statements. You finish by looping through arrays.

Then come seventy pages of programs including Manhattan Island, Sam's Monkey, The Jolly Green Giant, and Roger Goes to the Circus. If you are math-oriented or a compulsive gambler, you'll really like these programs.

I recommend this book to teachers of introductory programming courses, and to parents, kids, and anxious professionals just getting started on their new computer. The problems start easy and get harder. Almost all come with actual "solution" programs you can study. There are even occasional exercises for you to tackle.

This is what the book offers.

What does it lack?

It is only an introduction to microcomputer BASIC, so don't expect to be a programming whiz when you are done — especially with regard to a particular machine. Also, there is almost nothing on sound or graphics — two popular features of the new, low-cost personal computers.

Still, it's a good start. Whether you're old or young. Whether you're cocky about computers or afraid to touch one for fear it might bite off your hand. Or explode.

Fun With Microcomputers And BASIC
by Donald D. Spencer
Reston Publishing Co.
11480 Sunset Hills Rd.
Reston, VA 22090
128 pages
$9.95 paperback