Computer Programming 1-2-3

Computer Programming 123 coverComputer Programming 1,2,3
Grosset & Dunlap

Submitter: Anyone who has worked with children and school assignments will know this story…
A class in the school across the street assigned a project on programming a computer and students flocked in to check out books from the library. There is of course that one student who shows up the day before the assignment is due and there is not much left. Trying to help him out, I found this ye olde computer book on the shelf. Yikes! Not awful in 1983, but not helpful today.

Holly: Oh look! A punch card!



punch card



  1. Some MICROSOFT programs still use the icon for diskette to mean SAVE!…children today have no idea.

    I remember going to my class in computer programming my first year in college in 1982. You had to schedule time to get a terminal to write out your programming homework (ugh); we’d log in to the Main Frame to save our work (my good lord!)…I was getting a C in the class so I dropped it; I was not inspired to write code since I was trying to decode French.

    Here we are today: everything is stored is some mainframe somewhere…

    1. Floppy disks are the universal symbol for “save” on most apps, just as a paper envelope denotes email and a rotary phone indicates a phone number. Yet what kid in 2022 has used any of those items?

  2. Yes it happens here monthly if not weekly.

    Its always a parent who bring the young one in the day before the assignment, and will say something like… “That’s all you have?” This week month was a 4th grade class and Dark Matter Theory.

  3. We had this happen last month. The elementary school across the street’s third graders were assigned biographies on 14th century scientists. The shelves were picked clean when everyone’s favorite parent showed up to remind us of our failures.

    1. I suppose they always ignore the child’s failures in waiting until the last minute? My parents would have placed all the blame squarely on me, where it belonged!

  4. Needed to be weeded decades ago!

    I guess the kid could have done a report on the history of programming?

    1. Could be! I know my husband had an Atari 400 that plugged into the TV when he was a kid, probably around this time or a few years before.

      1. No, it can’t be — it is in color, whereas CRTs at that time would have been some type of monochrome. It’s a TV — actually identified on a later page.

      2. My very first job in 1979 was as a computer operator and I had to prepare a little packet of cards to ‘boot’ the computer in the morning.
        Even earlier in the mid to lare 1960s and early 1970s nmy dad was a programmer and on occasions would bring home quantities of redundant punched paper tape in a variety of colours. My sister and I turned it into paper chains for Christmas. We also had an ascii art of Santa’s and his sleigh with a number of reindeer.

  5. In the early days of popular home computers, programming books were popular. I remember receiving an astronomy programs book (basic) and spent several rainy Saturday afternoons copying line by line on my machine. The joy of getting it right and the frustration of getting one mark wrong is probably the equivalent of the scrapbooking craze of the 1990s.
    You are, however, correct that while this was a memorable part of my early life it is basically (no pun intended) useless today as I can get anything that book offered on my cell phone today without the frustration. Still, it is like building a model as opposed to buying the finished product. There is a little more satisfaction.

    1. I’d forgotten all about bubble memory (heh). Shows how much of an impact it made.

      Also, I was programming computers in 1982 and nobody used punch cards any more. Maybe on legacy machines or big iron, but as far as home computing, no. Even college and high school at worst had the system Henri described.

      I have been mucking around with computers since 1975 and have never used a punch card. Sorta shows this book was out of date in 1982, let alone now!

      I mean, if there weren’t computers with CRT screens (even in monochrome) by 1982, how would anyone have died of dysentery repeatedly in their covered wagon? 🙂

        1. I am completely at a loss for what this could have been! Actual computer punch cards would not have been very wallet-friendly or durable, even.

          In 1968 I had a summer job doing stuff at a proto-technology company. My job was to separate and deal with the computer-generated invoices that were spat out overnight. Because I was trying to do a good job, I finished by lunchtime, after I got the hang of it. So I looked around for something else to do, and I taught myself keypunching. Even then, the machines were pretty old.

  6. A keypunch card! I remember in the very early ’70’s that the career of the future was keypunch operator.

  7. I love how their “disk drive for mass storage” takes 5-1/4″ disks. My family’s first computer, an Apple IIe, had a luxurious two of those! Back in the days when 640kB ought to be enough for anybody…

    1. We are still here, but have been throttling back a bit since we have other stuff going on. Stay with us! Mary

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