inessential by Brent Simmons

BASIC Was Cool

James Hague, Lessons from 8-Bit BASIC:

There’s a small detail that I skipped over: entering a multi-line program on a computer in a department store. Without starting an external editor. Without creating a file to be later loaded into the BASIC interpreter (which wasn’t possible without a floppy drive).

Here’s the secret. Take any line of statements that would normally get executed after pressing return:

PLOT 0,0:DRAWTO 39,0

and prefix it with a number:

10 PLOT 0,0:DRAWTO 39,0

The same commands, the same editing keys, and yet it’s entirely different. It adds the line to the current program as line number 10. Or if line 10 already exists, it replaces it.

I feel a little bad for all the people who didn’t learn to program this way. It was so much fun.