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Applying “Good” Programming To Old BASIC

On one of my classic computing Facebook Groups there was a post quoting Edsger Dijkstra stating, “It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration.”  It’s actually part of a much larger document where he condemns pretty much every higher order language of the day, IBM, the cliquish nature of the computing industry, and so on. Despite most of it being the equivalent of a Twitter rant, in fact each line is almost made for tweet sized bites, there are some legitimate gems in there; one relevant to this topic being, “The tools we use have a profound (and devious!) influence on our thinking habits, and, therefore, on our thinking abilities.”  No, I don’t agree with the concept that starting with BASIC, or any other language, permanently breaks someone forever, but the nature of the tools we use driving our thinking means that it can lead to requiring us to unlearn bad habits.  Yet has someone tried to actually write BASIC, as in the BASIC languages of the 60s, 70s, and early 80s, with actual design principles?  Fortunately/unfortunately, I tried a while ago, with some interesting results.

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