This book is a modification of BASIC: A Hands-on Method, which introduces students to BASIC on a number of different timesharing computers. The earlier book has been revised and modified to be used specifically on the personal computer manufactured by Atari, Inc. The thinking behind and justification for the original work remain unchanged and bear repeating.
Most BASIC programming texts have two serious drawbacks. First, almost all the texts presuppose a knowledge of mathematics that most of our intended readers do not have. Second, most texts require readers to spend little, if any, time on the computer. Typically, students try to study programming like any other subject and do not experiment with or execute programs on the computer. Our experience indicates that people understand text material better and more rapidly when it is preceded by a good deal of hands-on experimentation.
Most textbooks are used in classrooms and certainly many people learn programming in this traditional setting. However, personal computers will soon be in such widespread use that many people will learn programming outside the classroom. This text has been designed for anyone, in or out of the classroom, who wants to learn to program the ATARI 400, the ATARI 800, and the ATARI 1200XL computers.
This book is structured to make learning easy. Each chapter begins with a statement of objectives. Then discovery exercises let the student experiment with BASIC and see the language in action. Once students acquire a feel for BASIC, they can profitably proceed to a more traditional treatment of the concepts.
The text has twelve chapters and three appendices. Each chapter is a module of instruction that should require about one or two hours of computer work and perhaps one or two hours text study. Reviews at the end of each chapter let students test their mastery of the objectives. The book can be used in different ways: as a self-study text, as the text for an open-entry, open-exit, self-paced course, and in tandem with a traditional lecture course.
People at any level from junior high through graduate school should be able to use this book to learn programming skills in BASIC rapidly and effectively. The student needs no knowledge of mathematics past introductory algebra, and the algebra used is mainly formula evaluation. Students with more advanced mathematical skills can apply them to independent work on the computer.
All students will need access to an ATARI 400/800/1200XL computer with a BASIC language cartridge, at least one disk drive, and a black-and-white or a color TV set. Although most of the work in the book can be done without a disk drive, the lack of a disk drive significantly limits the potential of the ATARI computer.
Two documents furnished with the ATARI 400/800/1200XL computer and three documents furnished with the ATARI disk drive are valuable to the student. The Operators Manual tells how to connect the parts of an ATARI BASIC system. The ATARI BASIC Reference Manual is a source of technical information. The Disk Operating System II Reference Manual describes the use of a disk drive with the ATARI 400/800/1200XL computer. Two other manuals concerning the disk drive, the Oiuner's Guide and An Introduction to the Disk Operating System, are also referenced.