Somewhat obsolete now-a-days

Usborne Guide to Better Basic - Brian Reffin Smith;Lisa Watts

This is a really cool little book, though very dated. However for its time it does a brilliant job helping children understand that basic of, well, BASIC (Beginner's All Purpose Instruction Code). Better BASIC is actually a little more advanced because explores more complicated programs than the beginners version, but it still is focused mainly at children (and at that time it would have been children like me who were lucky enough to have a computer in their home). Also, this book doesn't have any computer games in it (there are other books for that) so it is also a very good book for those children, who at the time, were interested in becoming computer programmers (like me).

The book has a number of programs in it and they can be pretty complex. There is a database program, a couple graphics program (including one for drawing graphs), two sorting programs, and a program which is designed to help you have a conversation with the computer. However, unlike a lot of the other books at the time that had listings of programs, this book deconstructs each of the programs so that you can understand what is happening. The book also suggests that you experiment with the programs by changing various lines around to see what happens.

I particularly like the database program and I am tempted to experiment with it to see if I can create my own specific database, that being a small database of pubs where you can type in a name and it lists all of the pubs with that name, or a suburb and it lists all of the suburbs. While I am not a computer programmer I suspect that I can easily modify the program for my own purposes.

I also know that this is a very old version of BASIC for computers that did not have a GUI (Graphical User Interface such as windows) or even DOS based machines (which did not enable you to use BASIC, however I remember when I was away with my Dad helping his friend with his PhD project I was still able to write programs in BASIC). I still remember that time, spending two weeks up on a sheep station in Central Australia. I remember that every night we would have lamb (because it was a sheep station) and despite the fact that it was full of university students, they were not smart enough to put the television antenna on the nearby hill (something which I, as a 12 year old, suggested that they do, though I don't think they ever got around to doing it).