Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Books Programming Education Software

Uborne Children's Books Release For Free Computer Books From the '80s (usborne.com) 119

martiniturbide writes: To promote some new computer coding books for kids, Uborne Children's Books has put online 15 of its children books from the '80s to learn how to code games. The books are available for free in PDF format and has samples to create your game for Commodore 64, VIC 20, Apple, TRS 80, Spectrum and other. Maybe you read some of them like "Machine Code for Beginners" or "Write your own Adventure Program for MicroComputers." Should other publishers also start to make their '80s and '90s computer books available for free?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Uborne Children's Books Release For Free Computer Books From the '80s

Comments Filter:
  • my fav old children's books.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Errm it is Usborne not Uborne.

  • Usborne (Score:4, Informative)

    by Drantin ( 569921 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2016 @08:04PM (#51474819)

    I know editors don't actually do any editing, but come on...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Honestly, what?

  • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2016 @08:24PM (#51474957)
    I'd love free copies of The Art of Programming by Knuth, or any of the K, R, or P books. Maybe even Bjorne.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      These books were great! As a kid, I had the Computer Battlegames one, which had very simplistic but easy to understand programs, and the Write Your Own Adventure Games one with the Haunted House. They did a good job explaining how to write the game, how the parser works, how to set the level up in memory, etc. Much better than other books that had program listings only, where you didn't have a clue what anything did. Nice artwork too.

    • I'd love free copies of The Art of Programming by Knuth, or any of the K, R, or P books. Maybe even Bjorne.

      I found TAOP in a bookshop in Seattle last week for two hundred and something dollars. I resisted buying it, because I had other things to spend the money on. Free would have been nice, but I don't think they'll be giving it away any time soon.

    • I'm surprised you didn't ask for a flying pony as well.

  • I'm probably missing out on something but couldn't most of the C64 code be run on most other BASIC interpreters as well? Especially if the code was intended to be child / introductory level?
    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      In order to use some of the more interesting features of BASIC on the C64 you had to POKE to and PEEK from very specific memory locations.

      • by Goonie ( 8651 )
        Notably, there were no graphics and sound primitives whatsoever in C64 BASIC. If you wanted to take advantage of the (actually quite impressive, for the day) graphics and sound, you had to directly manipulate memory.
        • Notably, there were no graphics and sound primitives whatsoever in C64 BASIC. If you wanted to take advantage of the (actually quite impressive, for the day) graphics and sound, you had to directly manipulate memory.

          Fortunately, you could get excellent books on machine code for 6502 CPUs, written in a style that would appeal to children.
          These days you get scratch.

        • by quetwo ( 1203948 )

          Same was true for the Apple ][ Basic (I grew up with an Apple IIc then we upgraded to a IIGS when the logic board failed).

          I remember the AppleIIGS came with a manual with all the memory locations and what they did. It was trivial to do PEEK and POKE commands to get access to the mouse subsystem or the high-res graphics system (thank god they mapped the PLOT commands to be able to use the high-res graphics system.. it would have been brutal to POKE for every dot on the screen).

          Being a bored kid in elementar

      • That is a really good point that I overlooked. When I wrote BASIC on the C64 I didn't go nearly that far (but that says lots about how little I did with BASIC on the C64 and nothing about doing anything clever to not need those features). That said, if these were "programming for kids" type books would they go to that level?

        As someone else pointed out, a C64 emulator could make the point unimportant.
        • That is a really good point that I overlooked. When I wrote BASIC on the C64 I didn't go nearly that far (but that says lots about how little I did with BASIC on the C64 and nothing about doing anything clever to not need those features). That said, if these were "programming for kids" type books would they go to that level?

          Follow the link and read the book on machine code. Yes it goes to that level.

      • In order to use some of the more interesting features of BASIC on the C64 you had to POKE to and PEEK from very specific memory locations.

        53280 and 53281 controlled the screen and border colours.

        POKE 53280,0
        POKE 53281,0

        :-)

      • by Toad-san ( 64810 )

        Naw, you could do some serious programming with assembly language. They had assemblers and everything.

        But I simply can NOT imagine any code for the primitive computers of that day (esp. a Trash-80!) being useful at all for a kid. There's nothing to run the stuff on even if you did finally get it typed in, and no way in hell is anyone (short of a supreme expert running on a hell of a good emulator) gonna port any of that stuff to a modern PC. Hell, have you even tried to FIND a BASIC interpreter for Windo

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Only if you target a common sub-set of language features. Each vendor offered specific features or extensions. For example, if the source relied on direct memory calls for special or fancy stuff, those won't likely match up to another vendor's dialect.

      • by rl117 ( 110595 )

        And in these books (yes, I still have them!) you often found a page or two at the back with a set of corrections to make the program work with the BASIC dialects of different machines (Spectrum, TIMEX, ZX80/81, Commodore 64, Commodore Pet, BBC, TRS-80, Apricot, Dragon, Oric, etc.). The sheer diversity is something I miss now it's all generic Intel.

    • I'm probably missing out on something but couldn't most of the C64 code be run on most other BASIC interpreters as well? Especially if the code was intended to be child / introductory level?

      Much of it probably could. Peek and poke graphics would get interesting though ...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      > couldn't most of the C64 code be run on most other BASIC interpreters as well?

      No. 'BASIC' is not one language but is many different variations with some vague similarities. Some require and use line numbers, some require that there be no line numbers and have 'labels'. Some only allow single letter plus number variable names, some allow long names. The interesting bits are machine specific extensions and addresses unique to a particular computer model. The methods of displaying graphics are also differ

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      jeesus reading the comments to this question makes me feel old, and also sad that there is such bad information given to the op

      yes if you stay away from peeks, pokes, graphics, sound, joystic / paddle io, and the charater set of the C64 they are mostly portable, until they are not cause the methods have different names on different computers depending on if they were keeping compatibility with some pre MS BASIC (such as apple, tandy commie and just about everyone else)

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      well the really simple stuff sure.

      anything with an ounce of graphcis and it will pretty much run only with whatever it was intended for.

  • by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2016 @08:48PM (#51475135)

    Go to the Atari Archives or Don Lancaster's web page and you'll find many of the classic computer books from the 80's. There are other sites which feature old computer books, all with permission of the rights holder.

    • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

      Huh. I wonder if one of the old Atari books from my childhood would be there. I spent many curious hours reading one that my godmother gave me, full of games and other programs for the Atari. Only reading, you see, because the Atari I owned was the 2600 game console, no programming possible. I still enjoyed reading the book and imagining playing the games, though.

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2016 @08:56PM (#51475187)

    I remember typing in the "Haunted House" by hand from Write your own adventure programs for your microcomputer" [google.com]

    The games I wrote never looked like anything the pretty illustrations -- I imagine they helped sell the book. :-)

  • by SCPaPaJoe ( 767952 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2016 @08:58PM (#51475197)
    I remember a book of basic games for my Apple 2+. After entering page after page of code only to have it not work, we found, the back of the book, a small note about how the authors intentionally left errors in the code that you had to troubleshoot. After what seemed like forever of fixing the code, the games sucked. Nowhere near as good as my Atari 2600 games. Good stuff.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Sounds like a fairly good learning experience even if you were disappointed with the game design.

      I used to write my own games, watch my brother play and find holes in them and chew me out:

      Bro: "Hey, why does the robot say 'meow' when it crashes into rocks? Dontcha know what a @#& robot is?"

      Me: "Hey, I'm new at this; do I look like Atari to you?"

      Bro: "Atari didn't get big by making meowing robots."

      Me: "How did your mouth get big?"

      Ah, the good 'ol days...

    • by RDW ( 41497 )

      After entering page after page of code only to have it not work, we found, the back of the book, a small note about how the authors intentionally left errors in the code that you had to troubleshoot.

      'Hey Bob, this doesn't even compile! You know the print deadline is tonight, right?'

      'Sorry, I'm going bowling at 6. Just stick a note in the back saying we made some deliberate errors. Nobody will ever type the whole thing in anyway.'

  • Does it include pascal? If so, then maybe i should look into it and finally make that IGM for L.O.R.D., I was planning on doing 19 years ago... better late then never i guess
    • Its all BASIC. Spent about thirty minutes translating into Ada, for funsies. So you should be good to go for Pascal. Have fun!

  • I remember trying to get the Basic programs printed in Penny Power (and later renamed to Zillions) magazine to run on our IBM PC clone in various Basic versions (a, qw, etc). Holy shit was that frustrating. At least you can do copy and paste now. Though to really feel the pain of the past kids need to type all that in by hand!

  • by Felix Da Rat ( 93827 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2016 @10:05PM (#51475569)

    I had that old 'Creepy Computer Games' book. I still might somewhere - I think I saw it in a box a couple of years ago.

    That's really what got me excited about computers, and I remember being amazed that I could make the magic box do what I wanted it to.

    I had so much fun playing Zork on my Sanyo MBC-555, that being able to actually make the computer do what I wanted, and to write my 'own' games on it, was just astounding.

    I might have to go through it again. I doubt re-writing the behavior now would be more than a short exercise, but it might be interesting to see how it goes trying to translate them.

  • I used to spend hours looking a the cover of the BATTLEGAMES one wishing that one day I could play a game like that, imagining that one day an airoplane wouldn't simply be a square on the screen.
    • Did that wish motivate you to be more involved with computers than you were?

      Did you ever take any steps to turn your wish into reality?

      Those early games and (promo) graphics were there to push us forward. To embrace, to learn, and to exceed what was done before us. And we have.

      So did you wish, or did you do?

      • Well, typing those games into the computer was a stepping stone to writing my own games. I made a game which was a Samurai adventure game with random monster encounters, which was really neat because as a kid I discovered the need for programming constructs and structures before I knew they existed. Which is a really nice way to learn.

        After BASIC I kept going with programming through my teen years with Pascal, at uni I thought I wanted to study chemistry but had an elective in computer science, and soon
  • My first programming book. Still have it.

  • The illustrations in Usborne's 1980s books are top notch. I don't think I read these particular ones, but I loved checking them out from my grade-school library.

  • Uborne Children's Books has put online 15 of its children books from the '80s to learn how to code games.

    "Children books"?

    The books have been put online so that they (the books) can learn how to code games?

    Also it's Usborne, not "Uborne." Yeesh.

  • I have to point out that O'Reilly (which I work for) has already made most of our tech books available for free. Students can sign up for online access using our "Safari for Schools" program at https://www.safaribooksonline.... [safaribooksonline.com] ,
  • I had one of these books growing up! I recognize which one, too. https://drive.google.com/open?... [google.com] "Introduction to Computer Programming: BASIC for Beginners." I loved programming in QuickBASIC 4.5 (and then QBX, or 7.1). I am a sysadmin now, not a programmer, but I definitely got my love of computers from stuff like this.
    Another good set of cherished computer books from my childhood was the Micro Adventure series: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

An algorithm must be seen to be believed. -- D.E. Knuth

Working...