computers for children

From: Jim Strickland <>
Date: Tue Jan 12 18:24:29 1999

I have to side with those who suggest a simple computer for a child with
enough interest to learn assembly. c64, apple2, and so forth would be my
suggestions. MacOS and Windows both are designed to keep you away from the
nitty gritty inside the computer. My understanding is MacOS won't let you
near it at all, and while windows *will* it's grudgingly and at your own peril.
(and there's so much crap in memory that you can munge it's unlikely a novice
will survive.) And as someone pointed out, there's so much to distract from
learning to program with a more modern machine...

By contrast, to do any kind of graphics or sound with a c64, you are interacting
with it on a pretty low level - sprites are an 8 byte by 1 byte (if memory
serves) chunk of memory and to turn a given pixel on, you poked a byte with
that pixel on.

A modern computer is designed to be an appliance, like a toaster, and requires
no more understanding than "put bread in slot, press lever". If the child has
shown an interest about what's inside, giving her a wintel or macos machine
is a disservice. I'd have to even say giving her a linux box to do assembly on
is probably too much. I don't grasp assembly well enough to be sure, but I'd
imagine a multitasking system complicates it somewhat.

On a related topic, does anyone else feel sorry for the kid in the microsoft
commercials who considers himself a computer expert because he has "mastered
many of Microsoft's applications." Heh. In the early 64 years you were
considered a wuss if you *bought* applications instead of writing your own.
Could it be a fiendish plot to reduce competition by making sure no-one but
Microsoft has the skills to program in their environment? :) (just kidding)

Jim Strickland
Vote Meadocrat!  Bill and Opus in 2000 - Who ELSE is there?
Received on Tue Jan 12 1999 - 18:24:29 GMT

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