Sometimes I think we have taken a step backwards in programming. In the old days we would just turn on our C64 or spectrum, and immediately we would have a programming environment, and not too many different ways to get a task done (Basic/assembler). Nowadays it is much harder for someone who has purchased a computer (PC or Mac) to program as there are so many choices:
does the computer come with a default programming language, and if so, where the hell is it?
which language should I use?
which version of the language should I use?
where do I get the language?
How do I install the language?
Which IDE to use?
It just seems to me that the first home computers which were like a million times less powerful than what we have now were in fact a million times easier to program! Any thoughts on this?
Posted: January 12, 2010 at 3:41 PM by: Zubair
And an abacus boots in zero seconds.
On January 12, 2010 at 3:44 PM by: Richard Pennington
Put the computer back in the box, and return it for a refund.
On January 12, 2010 at 3:53 PM by: Steve De Caux
I'm astounded that people continually whinge about the alleged lack of a programming environment on modern computers. Even Windows 7, which is not especially developer friendly when installed by a typical vendor, has a programming environment that has capabilities wildly beyond anything available on a machine from fifteen years ago.
While you can download Visual Studio Express or simply install the optional XCode package, depending on your platform, the humble web browser is actually capable of an awful lot all by itself.
I have to strongly disagree that older BASIC-prompt type computers were "a million times easier to program". Ask anyone who's had to debug a 500 line BASIC program without a proper editor how "easy" it is. Notepad, while not an IDE, is a vast improvement over line-by-line entry.
Consider a simple test-case:
What is the most impressive thing that someone unfamiliar with computers can manage within 72 hours of unboxing?
On a C64-vintage machine the answer is quite likely some kind of BASIC "What is your name?" type program that produces a variety of witty answers, or where someone has a better reference, a sprite that bounces around off the edges of the screen.
On a modern machine with a browser, it could be a web page for a school project, a video on YouTube, or a small game built using some of the web-based frameworks.
Embedding a YouTube video in a forum post might not be "programming" in the strictest sense, but I'd argue that getting the computer to do what you want is the important thing, and only sometimes conventional programming is required.
On January 12, 2010 at 3:57 PM by: tadman