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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:52 am 
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DementedPurple wrote:
Garth wrote:
My first exposure to programming was Fortran IV in college in 1978, but no useful depth yet. My first real programming was on a TI-58c calculator starting in Dec '81, followed soon after by 6502 in a class in the spring of '82, concurrent with a Fortran IV class.

Wow. What computer did you use for Fortran IV, I know that computers like the Apple II and Commodore PET existed, but did you have to use a computer the size of a room?

Yep, and absolutely no graphics (unless you could print it on greenbar fanfold paper with text characters).

My early interest in electronics (1970's) was in stereo and amateur radio, not computers. Remember the line in the movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley" where the executive, puzzled and tapping his pencil on the desk, said slowly, "What would the common man want with a computer?" (They must have had some good laughs making the movie.) Back then, computers were rare, huge, and expensive, and people who worked with them seemed next to God or something.

I've been inactive in amateur radio since 1984, but I've maintained my license only in case I'd want to make my own radar or missile-guidance system to take out an ice-cream truck or something exciting. :lol:

I got mildly interested in computers when I wanted to do audio and RF circuit calculations that took thousands of iterations. I got a TI-58c programmable calculator in Dec '81. The next year, I took a class on 6502 which used AIM 65 computers, and a Fortran IV class which required doing our practice on the school's IBM 360 mainframe computer. You'd transfer your hand-written program onto cards at a big card-punch machine so the dresser-sized card reader could accept it, then rubber-band the cards together with a paper having your account number and put it in a cubby, and come back two hours later for a printout of all the reasons it wouldn't run. :lol: By then, the boys who had access to an Apple or TRS-80 or similar were using BASIC, and assembly if they were more adventurous; but the school was behind the times. It reminds me of the 1969 movie "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" where Medfield College was given its first computer, free, because the computer (apparently a Burroughs B205) was already so outdated.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:15 am 
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re: punch cards

I had the privilege of making punch cards last year. Though, the instruction set for a jacquard is a lot simpler; it's basically just one: "toggle bit at address n", which is carried out completely mechanically in older models.

Punch cards readers for wheft were eventually replaced by light/dark optic sensors so textile industry designers could fill in patterns manually on paper. This seems to have been the mode of graphics design over at nintendo at an early point, too. The format is similar; you'd have graph papers representing bit planes and a string representing the (i don't know the proper english technical term for this) färgställning* (roughly meaning colour setting) which is analogous to how you'd assign subpalettes via the attribute table on the PPU of the NES. Different machines have different configurations, but i believe the most common was just one bit plane toggling between two subpalettes, because it's mechanically the simplest thing you can get away with.

We also prototyped an electronic punchcard reader for an exhibition.


*found it: farbstellung (german) is apparently "colour combination". Anyway it's meant to be an instruction comprised of what colour codes (representing spools) goes into what subpalette.

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Last edited by FrankenGraphics on Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:20 am 
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Mine was GameSalad... not that it is a language... but it was the tool I used to make my first game. I then studied C/C++, so I guess C was my first language. When I started using Unity I coded in JS. I did do SOME BASIC on C64 as a kid but VERY little...


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:11 am 
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My first language is C++ :). They taught in highschool.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:49 am 
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When I was 6 I found a wonderful book at my school library called "Computer Fun" which aimed at teaching BASIC to kids.

There's actually a free PDF of the book available, along with a number of other books in the series:
https://usborne.com/browse-books/features/computer-and-coding-books/

From those books, and also by typing code listings out of magazines, I learned BASIC on my Atari ST. (ST BASIC dialect, then GFA BASIC.)

Later when we got a 286 with MS-DOS, I started using QBasic.

Incidentally, I was always frustrated trying to make games with QBasic and GFA BASIC because neither seemed to have a masked blit command, which I thought was essential! I tried writing my own, looping through and setting pixels one by one, but that was never fast enough on my CPU to be useful. Years later I learned that you could do an AND blit with an inverted mask followed an OR blit to accomplish what I wanted, but I'd never found an example of this back then when I needed it! I read everything I could get my hands on, but there was a lot of limitation on what I could find. For example: I wanted to learn assembly language, but the only book my local library had on assembly language programming was written in the 70s. I tried reading it, but it was terribly confusing, and for a type of CPU I've never seen in real life. Even at the bookstore there was hardly anything available on these topics.

Still later we had a Pentium, and Visual Basic, which I was frustrated by because I couldn't figure out any sensible way to make video game graphics with it. (It might have had one, but all the documentation I had was more about making windows forms.)

In 1997 I got home access to the internet, and things just exploded for me. I found the DJGPP compiler (DOS port of GCC), and the PC Game Programmer's Encyclopedia. I learned C and x86 assembly, and with the internet suddenly had access to all sorts of great information that had been difficult for me to find before. I could even talk to other people who were interested in this stuff! It was amazing.

After 10 years of trying to learn from whatever scraps I could find, the internet gave me easy access to everything I needed to know!


I don't think I'd recommend starting with BASIC today, but really I think almost any language is OK. Probably I'd suggest Python as a starter language, but it's more about what guides/tools you have available and what you're trying to make. I learned BASIC first because I happened to find those particular books that used BASIC.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:12 am 
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I spent some time with DJGPP and Turbo C as well, ~1999 or 2000. I think I wrote a missle command clone, a connect 4 game (with a min max algorithm I borrowed from somewhere, I didn't really understand recursion too well at age 15 lol)...and maybe some demo or other with Allegro's 3D primitives. Nothing too fancy. Probably the best thing I made in that "era" was a raycaster in visual c++. I still have it around somewhere but it crashes when I run it. lol.

I recall a clone of Final Fantasy somebody was making in DJGPP/Allegro and it had rather well written mod/st/s3m whatever music in it. I wish I still had that around, it was inspiring to me at the time. I don't remember what it was called or where it went.

Ahh the good old days. Actually in my case I'd say bad old days. I sorta quit programming ~2001 or so and didn't really start again til after college. How I was able to land a CS degree without doing programming for 4 years is anybody's guess. I probably wrote some shit code that got A's from professors who didn't give a crap often enough that it got me by, plus 17+ credits of straight A's in piano lessons, which I found easy for some reason.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:22 am 
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tokumaru wrote:
GradualGames wrote:
I started with QBasic in 1996 or so, at age 13.

It appears we're the same age and started programming around the same time using the same tool, because my answer is EXACTLY the same.

Cool. Wonder if we crossed paths on any qbasic websites? Haha. I used to frequent QB RPGs mainly. I wish I had saved a mirror of the site, I can't find it archived anywhere. Luckily I still have a handful of RPGs a few folks made from back then, whenever I feel like going down memory lane.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:39 am 
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Pretty sure my first exposure to programming was BASIC in middle school.

I remember making a a stick figure guy walking across some ground and getting struck by lightning. Heh.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:09 am 
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rainwarrior wrote:
Still later we had a Pentium, and Visual Basic, which I was frustrated by because I couldn't figure out any sensible way to make video game graphics with it. (It might have had one, but all the documentation I had was more about making windows forms.)


This, so much. They had visual basic installed on a computer at school, it was clearly (in my experience then) aimed at making small widgets, and the only "useful" thing that i made out of it was an auto dice roller with a windows form interface. :roll:

I think python is the new qBasic, except i don't expect a school kid wants to make a text based adventure to show their friends these days. :( But it's at the same time more useful as a tool maker, too.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:26 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
I think python is the new qBasic, except i don't expect a school kid wants to make a text based adventure to show their friends these days. :( But it's at the same time more useful as a tool maker, too.

Yeah python is incredible for tools. I use it to glue together my whole nes coding process. I use it to build the game itself (clarification: I mean a script to build the game, which is written in 6502), famitracker conversion, a graphics and level editor using PyQt (that was REALLY fun to build) which I'm still using and improving 3 years later, random scripts for generating charmaps, trig tables, and maybe other stuff I forgot. *edit* oh yeah, a .nl generator for fceux from ca65 listing files...
As for the new QBasic, I'm gonna make everyone hate me by plugging Pico 8 again. :lol: Self contained dev environment and full of easy to use primitives just like qbasic. Probably not quite as versatile though. It does everything I'd wanted to do as a kid with game development, though, including constraining scope. I wish I could go back in time and tell my 14 year old self: "Derek, I think you're biting off more than you can chew trying to make a SNES style QB RPG with so little experience. Why don't you dial it back a bit and make something you can actually FINISH."


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:46 am 
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Quote:
"Derek, I think you're biting off more than you can chew trying to make a SNES style QB RPG with so little experience. Why don't you dial it back a bit and make something you can actually FINISH."

Heh yeah. My first game, written at the age of 12, had like ten rooms, and about five things to do in each. I should've stuck to that concept for a lot longer. Most things done through the school years after that became mere concepts and demoes with too grandiose ideas behind them.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:08 pm 
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GradualGames wrote:
Cool. Wonder if we crossed paths on any qbasic websites?

Maybe, but I was pretty quiet back then. In the beginning I didn't even have internet at my own home, I'd go to my father's on weekends and spend all night from saturday to sunday downloading QBASIC programs to play with and learn from... I didn't really talk to anyone. I spent months analyzing a crappy raycaster (really slow, with 4-pixel wide textures that only scaled vertically - I loved it!) I downloaded during one of these visits.

Quote:
I used to frequent QB RPGs mainly. I wish I had saved a mirror of the site, I can't find it archived anywhere. Luckily I still have a handful of RPGs a few folks made from back then, whenever I feel like going down memory lane.

RPGs were never my thing, so it's no surprise I don't remember this site. I'm sure I visited it at some point, I was ALWAYS looking for new QB stuff, but I definitely didn't frequent it. I'm having a hard time remembering the names of ANY sites from back then, actually, but the main thing I did was scroll through those long tables of BAS and ZIP files with short descriptions downloading anything that looked remotely interesting.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:28 pm 
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Yeah Garth, I think that the TI-58c was the one if not the first machine Satoru Iwata programmed, just a little trivia for you.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:38 pm 
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rainwarrior wrote:
I don't think I'd recommend starting with BASIC today, but really I think almost any language is OK. [...] I learned BASIC first because I happened to find those particular books that used BASIC.

Although none of the BASICs I've used were on a 6502 machine, I understand the BBC BASIC was really good, and I was impressed with Lee Davison's EhBASIC when I looked over its capabilities years ago. It looked really good considering the memory limits of the '02. I expect that if modern tools were used and more advanced knowledge of what can be done on the '02 were applied, someone could come up with a further improved BASIC. I wouldn't mind seeing BASIC make a comeback in that way. It would be more structured, possibly compiled and using labels and no line numbers, allow local environments, multiple programs in memory at once, etc..

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:53 pm 
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Garth wrote:
rainwarrior wrote:
I don't think I'd recommend starting with BASIC today, but really I think almost any language is OK. [...] I learned BASIC first because I happened to find those particular books that used BASIC.

Although none of the BASICs I've used were on a 6502 machine, I understand the BBC BASIC was really good, and I was impressed with Lee Davison's EhBASIC when I looked over its capabilities years ago. It looked really good considering the memory limits of the '02. I expect that if modern tools were used and more advanced knowledge of what can be done on the '02 were applied, someone could come up with a further improved BASIC. I wouldn't mind seeing BASIC make a comeback in that way. It would be more structured, possibly compiled and using labels and no line numbers, allow local environments, multiple programs in memory at once, etc..

Yeah, BASIC is my all time favorite programming language, it's a lot more simpler then any languages in the C family, that's for sure.


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