Monday, April 28, 2014

Happy Birthday 50 year’s BASIC

Happy Birthday 50 year’s BASIC, programming for the masses

In the early days of computer science, only a small elite could program

Back in 1982 I own my first computer which was a Casio pocket computer, a Casio FX-702P. The FX-702P features a single line dot matrix liquid crystal display with 20 characters. A 10-digit mantissa is displayed (including minus sign) however internal calculations use a 12-digit mantissa.

Dieter Hovorka first computer Casio FX-702P

The programming model employed is a special BASIC dialect. Ten programming areas are supported, P0 through P9. BASIC lines can be numbered from 1 through to 9999. Subroutines are supported, but passing parameters to subroutines is not supported. The subroutine call stack can be up to 10 deep. Both GOTO lines and subroutines can be addressed indirectly via line number calculation. FOR/NEXT structures can be nested up to eight times with a memory of 1,680 bytes.

Owning this pocket computer introduced me to the digital world of programming. It was in May 1982 when my father bought the pocket computer and brought it home. Nearly 20 years later after John G. Kemeny und Thomas E. Kurtz, two professors from the College in U.S. state New Hampshire, started the first BASIC program on a GE-255 from General Electric on the 1.May 1964, I started my digital carrier. Their program had only three command lines, the first line presented "10 Let X = (7+8)/3", in the second "20 PRINT X" and the third line ended with "30 END" The result was to display “5” as a result of the calculation.

10 Let X = (7+8)/3
30 END"  

BASIC was born. The name of BASIC ("Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code") explains the intention of the two scientists. They wanted to make a "symbolic general-purpose programming for Beginners" available with "basic" fundamental.
At the high school kids who then took advantage of BASIC for their first steps in the computer world, belonged to the young Bill Gates. In the eighth grade the Lakeside School in Seattle, he gained access to a terminal, with which the students were able to take advantage of computing power at General Electric.

It took until the late 70s until the BASIC got attention. The first home computers from manufacturers such as Atari, Sinclair, Tandy or Schneider came with a so-called interpreter so that the BASIC programs were able to run on a sparsely-equipped hardware. For the triumphal procession of the BASIC-boom made from 1982, the Commodore 64, which carries with total sales of over 22 million units until today the title of "best-selling home computer of all time."



The first personal computer by IBM nearly stopped the proliferation of BASIC. Microsoft allowed PCs with the DOS operating system to equip an environment for BASIC but not as part of the starting equipment. Many BASIC dialects, especially the Microsoft product Visual Basic, where still relevant because they are relatively easy to write applications for Windows. When programming for macros for programs such as Excel, the BASIC technology is used till today.

In computer science BASIC was not without controversy. Conceptually and on the efficiency, BASIC could not keep up with other programming languages, critics also made repeatedly about the confusing spaghetti code, which is produced. Others complained that Visual Basic could never really break away from the platform Windows. However, BASIC is still considered one of the most widely used programming languages that is especially easy to learn - even if it only plays a minor role in the world of the Internet.

Nokia: The rise and fall of a mobile legend

Former market giant is after the takeover now "Microsoft Mobile"

"Today is an exciting day as we join the Microsoft family and the first but significant step on our long journey to go ". This was written by Stephen Elop, Nokia's former CEO and now to head of the device division of Microsoft in a blog entry. The Nokia brand disappears so that the mobile and smartphone market, takes its place "Microsoft Mobile".

The first Nokia phone

1982: The first Nokia phone (Mobira Senator)
1982 the time had come - Nokia introduced the first "mobile" phone from "The B-line telephone Mobira Senator" could be removed with a carrying handle out of the car. The "mobile", however, was anything but handy, it weighed almost 10 pounds and had to be recharged after a few hours.

The History of a company

The resident of the Finnish city of Espoo Group has a long history. 1865 began the operation in the manufacture of paper, later, tires, rubber boots and other products joined. From that branch, who was responsible for cable manufacturing, eventually grew that branch for over 40 years of history in the telecommunications sector.
Nokia was one of the pioneers of mobile phone industry. The introduction to the market made 1992 the first GSM mobile phone in the form of the model 1011. Many more followed, over time the devices developed the reputation of being almost indestructible and were widely noted for long battery life. Pre-installed games, especially "Snake", completed numerous school and lunch breaks to break records and competitions.
At the turn of the millennium Nokia had risen to one of the most powerful players in the mobile phone market and a flagship company of the Finnish economy. Million of the devices also contributed their part in the transformation of communication in society.
Telephone booths lost increasingly important - now also fixed line telephony has lost its importance. The product portfolio was broad and ranged from simple devices to experimental devices such as the N-Gage and PDAs such as the Communicator, which was constructed as a small laptop. In fact the communicator was the first mobile office which was powerful in sync data between desktop and mobile device.

Culminated in 2007, the market share of Nokia with 41 percent, reports CNet. In the same year, the now-deceased Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone. Smartphones, such as based on Windows Mobile or BlackBerry, there were at that time already, but completed little more than a niche market for business.

Although some other players in the industry, including the former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the unit ridiculed, the iPhone has become the best-selling smartphone series in the world.

Lifeline Windows Phone

Nokia, however, slept through the signs of the times. Slowly people reacted to the trend towards multi-functional phones with large touch display and long tried to get beat with the Symbian system own notch in the market. While this plan failed, the sale of traditional mobile phones began to break away. With Google's Android also grew a second, strong competitor.
At the same time with a brief interlude with the Linux-based operating system Meego on stepmom childlike treated by some users but revered Nokia N9, Nokia announced in 2011, to continue to focus on Windows Phone from Microsoft. The Redmond IT giant was also falling behind and tried with the new development to get back on track. With Stephen Elop previously a former trend setting company Macromedia and later Microsoft manager had taken over the helm. 

Microsoft brings home market power

Especially in the beginning was the start for the new system bumpy and could not help to bring Nokia out of the red. The market share of Windows Phone is currently accepted globally at around three to four percent. The largest player in the still small field is Nokia with its Lumia devices. Market power that Microsoft has now taken with the 7.5-billion-dollar takeover in its own group.
Not without a second surprise, a few weeks before finalizing the acquisition, Nokia introduced the "X-series" - cheap smartphones, the surface although imitates Windows Phone, but actually run with Google's Android system. The support for this Microsoft wants sustained, or whether there will be new models, however, is uncertain.

In Finland melancholy prevails whether the takeover. The 1997 opened Group's headquarters  building emblazons now the Microsoft logo, the Nokia logo on the traffic signs that point the way to the headquarters were removed. Several media accompanied the takeover with obituaries on the Group. 4,700 employees are taken over by Microsoft.

Teaching example

The history of Nokia shows that also can drop giants in the tech business. A lesson which currently even the Canadian company Blackberry gets to feel. The former smartphone pioneer hardly plays a role in the market; meanwhile they have been left behind in terms of market share by Windows Phones. Believe me, more will follow unless they reinvent themselves.