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What can a 1980s BASIC programming textbook teach us today?

by   Martin Lester, et al.

Elementary Basic, published in 1982, is an introductory programming text with a novel central conceit, namely that the fictional 19th century detective Sherlock Holmes used a computer to help solve mysteries. It is also novel among similar books of its time for its focus on program design. In other regards, such as its use of the language BASIC, it is representative of its time. Over 35 years after it was written, I think it is worth looking back at it to see to what is still relevant today and what would be done differently. We may even learn something about teaching programming today. Of particular interest is the degree to which the use of BASIC influenced the content of the book.


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