Something Different: SmallBASIC and the triumphant return of the Turtle

This has nothing to do with Virtualization, but it’s something that I think is really very cool so I’m going to write about it.  Sorry for the long and rambling post, but I’m getting all nostalgic thinking of this stuff, so I’m just going to gush for a little while.

When I think back to the first program I ever wrote, I usually think of something ridiculously lame that I hammered out on my dad’s old 286 when I was in middle school.  I used to skip class every now and then and go to the library to read programming books.  (OK, that’s not entirely accurate.  I lived in a small town, and the only library that had programming books – actually, book - was the school library, so it wasn’t like I was going far, and my teachers knew where I was.)

Anyway, the book was on BASIC, specifically a language called VB-DOS, which the school owned a copy of.  Needless to say, I didn’t, so I had to learn with QBasic.  I would copy down the sample programs in the book into my notepad (the paper kind…), and then type them up when I came home and make minor changes to see what would happen.

The thing is, though, I’m wrong.

That wasn’t the first program I wrote.  I wrote programs much, much earlier on in my life than that, but I didn’t know I was writing a program.

I’m referring to something that I wish was part of more peoples’ childhood – LOGO writer.   When I was in elementary school, my mother enrolled me in summer school so I would be out of her hair for a while learn new things, even during the summer.  One of the classes was about computers, and featured a section on LOGO writer, and the beloved turtle (which looked like a triangle, not a turtle).   It was the first time that I ever gave the computer set of commands and the computer did as it was told.

Years later, I found out about Lego LOGO at school, and built some really interesting, albeit useless programs around that (which is an entirely different blog post).

The point I’m trying to get to, though, is that happy days are here again for all those little programmers-to-be out there.  Microsoft DevLabs has released a small programming environment called SmallBASIC, which is, in my opinion, a fantastic tool for people who are just learning how to program no matter what their age.

SmallBASIC is just that – a very small, very limited BASIC interpreter that allows you to have access to certain objects on the system and manipulate them.  It even includes a Turtle object for drawing on the screen LOGO-style.

This is a great beginner’s tool, and a fun little toy for more experienced programmers to play around with when they feel like being all nostalgic and gushing about something.

(The SmallBASIC blog is located here, and includes some neat code samples for SmallBASIC, as well as information on how to extend the SmallBASIC environment.)

Comments (0)

Skip to main content