Archive for July 18, 2011
The value of Basic being described in this piece is the same argument that, I think the ACM Java Task Force was making about Java. Their point isn’t that Java (or Basic) is a great language. The point is that having a lingua franca, a language that you could count on being everywhere, that there was lots of educational support for, is a cultural advantage for developing more computer scientists. It’s a real cost today that Basic (or something else to take its place) is not omnipresent today.
“I have never received as much hate mail as I got for that article, not even for my infamous attacks on Star Wars,” Brin recalled recently. “It was almost entirely from people who missed the point, with all the rage directed at Basic. Let me be clear that I am not defending Basic. It was a primitive line-coding program, but everyone had it. Textbooks had exercises written in Basic, and teachers could count on a large fraction of their students being able to perform those assignments.”
“I am not defending Basic,” says writer David Brin, who talked about the death of the programming language in a 2006 Salon.com article. “It was a primitive line-coding program, but everyone had it.”
Today, the top one-tenth of one percent of students “will go to summer camp and learn programming, but the rest may never know that the dots comprising their screens are positioned by logic, math and human-written code,” Brin complains.