The Commodore PET (1977) had I think the most amazing graphics-friendly character set of all time and I sorely miss it. It was SO EASY to just pick up and start writing a beautiful tile-based game, even pseudo-3D; you almost did it by accident.
Screenshots from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKC8ARAWfhY
There's something important here, I think, in that there's a lot of power in giving users a small set of combinatorial tools *which harmonise well together*.
In PETSCII, you had to work hard to make something look dissonant. The shapes just naturally came together and made beauty and simplicity look and feel easy.
This gave you a sort of invisible cybernetic boost to your natural creativity. Scribble something, anything, and wow. Hard to overestimate just how good that felt.
But I sure remember what it felt like to go from the PET to the IBM PC, even the PC extended graphics chars.
"What the... where are my diagonal lines? The fills? The shades? All I've got is this silly smiley face character and some card symbols and lines!"
And from there to Windows and Latin-1 was another huge step down. Suddenly you needed a degree in plumbing and gasfitting and tiger-wrangling just to get pixels to a window.
@natecull i don't know if you will find this interesting or not, but did you know there is currently an outstanding proposal (which looks like it will probably find support) for encoding PETSCII into unicode: http://www.unicode.org/L2/L2017/17435r-terminals-prop.pdf
@penduin I think what made 8-bit programming elegant, to the extent that it was, is that every feature kind of had to earn its place. The ones that got in were generally (though not always) the ones you needed to get cool stuff done.
BASIC had a million flaws. But it let you go from zero to fun stuff (ie: interactive games with halfway decent string handling) almost instantly.
The dream of 'revisionist retrocomputing' is 'what if we'd had something better than BASIC'.
@natecull that era of computing was magical; i wrote basic programs at five years old and knew what i wanted to do with my life. the present situation is tragic - children have supercomputers, but are locked out of creating their own software. their minds are eager as ever for it, but the closest they can get is stuff like minecraft.
that's where i was going with this. many computers don't even have proper keyboards, let alone accessible programming environments that "just happen" when the device is powered on.
python and even js can be somewhat beginner-friendly, but their discovery/playground process is nothing like how basic was in the 80s. modern computers are geared to sell entertainment, not to be tool-making tools.
@mdhughes @natecull @penduin And yet, as someone familiar with both Python *and* BASIC, I can attest that, even today, programming in Commodore BASIC was, and still is, far easier than programming in Python to get most things done that isn't web-related.
The first big difference is that BASIC had a near zero edit/run/debug loop, while Python's (in comparison) is immense, all thanks to a thoroughly inadequate interactive environment. You further can't edit individual lines in Python.
@mdhughes @natecull @penduin I think a good approximation of what I have in mind is something like BASIC-09, which ran under the OS-9 operating system on TRS-80 CoCo machines. It was structured, lacked line numbers, and yet retained much of the UI that enabled tinkering and learning in a way that an IDE just can't.
@vertigo @penduin @natecull I started on a TRS-80 Model I in 1979, wrote and sold software on the Atari 800, and have been coding for a living ever since. So I think I do have some experience with both. /s
Seriously start IDLE, type in the REPL. Or Cmd-N for a new file, type in a real program, hit F5 and it runs in that REPL. It's as close to 10 … RUN as makes no difference.