stinkyox (stinkygoat) wrote,
stinkyox
stinkygoat

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back in the dying days of big iron

Went to Carmarthen boot this morning and while it was reasonably large there wasn't much there I wanted to buy. Gamewise there was the usual rash of ps1s, the first ps3 I'd seen at a boot sale, a few NES clone all-in-one joystick things and one of those Wii knockoffs for a fiver, but none that really justified a purchase.

Giles spotted this book and upon closer examination I had to splash out 25p on it.



You may wonder why since it looks pretty boring. Well, those who've read the History of Llamasoft will remember me being rude about a language called CESIL they tried to teach us in 6th form, where you had to write down your code onto sheets of squared paper and then send them off somewhere where someone would type in exactly what you wrote and try to run it, and if you'd made any errors you'd get your ?SYNTAX ERROR in the post a week later. Not exactly the most interactive introduction to programming.

Now, we never used a text book and I only went to one lesson before giving up in disgust, but seeing the "CES" logo on this textbook made me wonder - could this be an actual CESIL text book?

I opened it up, and moo and behold:



Yep, there is the squared-paper CESIL "coding sheet"! Complete with an example of the first and only thing I learned about in CESIL, the print statement }:-D. Also look at how they make you cross your Os instead of your zeros, the exact opposite of everybody else in the universe. ICL, bless }:-).

Looking at the rest of CESIL, ironically it's pretty much like an assembly language but with print statements.



It has input and output statements, storage to named variables, an accumulator, conditional branches and such - all similar to stuff that I learned later myself on the 6502. The main difference being that instead of doing a few thousand operations per second CESIL only ran at the rate of a few operations per week, making it not quite so much fun }:-D.

The book does go on to teach a little BASIC in the last couple of chapters - BASIC by post though, written on those same coding sheet things }:-D.

The book I have is from 1978, exactly contemporaneous with my own time at sixth form. Reading the intro it seems that the course was originally authored in 1969, when interactive computing was rare and code really was written in biro on squared paper and sent off to data entry clerks. By the time of this 1978 reprint the course must have been on its dying gasp and had little or no relevance in the emerging wave of small, personal, interactive machines. I just think it's funny they were still bothering to teach this at my 6th form when there was already a PET in the classroom.

Still, worth 25p for a little chunk of my own computing ancient history }:-D.
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