** Nerd Alert **
Yes, this post is quite nerdy. Feel free to skip it or read it as you see fit. We’ll be going back in time again, so if you can’t handle that you may want to move along peacefully.
Turn off your computer, disconnect the hard drives and floppy drive (if you still have one), remove any bootable USB keys you may have. Now, turn on your computer again. What did you get? Nothing, right? Maybe a bunch of errors? But you certainly didn’t get anything even vaguely useful.
You may as well hook all that stuff back up. Now, back in the old days the majority of home computers were still useful, even if they didn’t have any devices (except for the TV or, if you were rich, a monitor) attached. Most home computers had some kind of BASIC programming language built in so turning on the computer brought you to some kind of prompt. While this may not be quite as useful as being able to check your email or listen to an MP3, it’s a lot better than nothing.
On every computer I have, I have an Atari 8-bit computer emulator. Every one of them. You wonder why I do this, right? You think, “Geez, the guy has a 64-bit, 2.2GHz processor what the devil does he need an emulator for an 8-bit, 1Mhz, 48K of memory computer for?”
And the answer is simple: BASIC. See, sometimes I just need to write a quick program that doesn’t do much. It may be a one-off thing that I need to do. Simple, short, ready to go. Modern computers, for all their speed, complexity, and bullshit lack in this area. I mean, really lack.
If I need a quick program to calculate something, I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a developer kit. I don’t need it to run in its own window with menus and crap. I don’t want to have to write headers and compile the stupid thing. I just want to type it in, type ‘RUN’ and press the Enter key. But, while my computer can run Oblivion in all it’s 3D hardware accelerated goodness, it can’t do the simple task of running a BASIC program.
The irony is that there are many computers from the “Golden Age” that have BASIC built in and their BASIC was written by a guy named Bill Gates and is copyrighted to Microsoft (sometimes Micro Soft) in 1982 or earlier.
It would be lovely if Microsoft could include a Microsoft BASIC with Windows. Even if it’s the same version from 1982. Just something simple that can be quickly typed in and run. No sheet designers, no labels, just good old line numbers and GOTO’s and GOSUB’s and stuff.
Until that advanced day reaches me, I’ll keep my emulators for the sole purpose of having a simple BASIC around in case I need it.
I guess I’m the only person who feels this way, though.