Programming in Basic: The First Steps


188 pages
Contains Illustrations, Index
ISBN 0-13-729830-7




Reviewed by David Mattison

David Mattison is a librarian with the B.C. Provincial Archives and
Records Services Library.


This book is not much different, in terms of topics on treatment, from others that teach programming fundamentals via BASIC. Although the author writes that “I have always felt that many texts cover too much too fast,” it was my feeling that not enough depth was provided in the text. There is simply too much commentary by the author, which means sacrificing space to programming examples. At this point in time, with so many dialects of BASIC available, the idea of providing a one-stop book seems fruitless and bound to cause confusion to the novice, who has to test all the options noted in the text. The author points all of this out, but it is a waste of time.

The book begins with an overview of computing; this marks the work as destined for a classroom situation, where these topics can be discussed. Various idiosyncrasies of computers and some of the rules are outlined before the first program examples are offered. The author uses an output approach, which is sensible and means that he proceeds by beginning with the PRINT statement. Various BASIC commands are covered in each chapter with an intermission of sorts being made to discuss the importance of flowcharting. The book is divided into two parts, with the second focusing on BASIC commands that vary from computer to computer. The appendices cover topics such as debugging, built-in BASIC functions, the use of arrays, and a comparison of BASIC dialects but without being specific. No answers are provided for the exercises at the end of each chapter. While there is merit in learning BASIC, the author’s programming examples could quite easily be accomplished through specific business applications, such as a spreadsheet or database management programs. The novice still has to ask the question: why learn BASIC through this book?


Bell, Robert G., “Programming in Basic: The First Steps,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,