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The HP85 and my 7 year old

This last Saturday my 7 year old asked me about the green suitcase in the mountains cabin. "What's this, Dad?



"A portable computer, Guillermo"

"That big? Can I see it?"

"Yes you can"


"What can you do with it? Can we see YouTube with it?" (sometime ago he asked me "when you were a child, did you like to use Google?" How to explain that there was no Youtube, no Google, no www, and in my case, no network even around 1981 )


"No, you can't"

"what can you do with it, then?"

"You can make programs. You instruct the computer to do what you want"


"you are joking, aren't you? Does it work?"

"Yes it does. See?"


"What's that thing on the right?"

"A tape drive. It is like a USB memory - just slower and with less memory. You can write your programs in it, and you can retrieve other programs other people have written. Do you want to tell something to do to the computer? Let me help you."

"OK. Let's have it print 'IRONMAN' on the printer.


20 END

"OK. How can it print it many, many times?"

"Let's try"


20 GOTO 10

"Isn't GOTO misspelled?"

"No. It is a program keyword. It is not English. It is a computer language, similar to English. It is used to give instructions to the computer. Let's try something else. Now you are learning how to multiply. Let's have the computer print the multiplication tables, OK?"


10 REM GUILLERMO'S MULTIPLICATION TABLES (some explanations on what is a comment)


30 INPUT T ("T is the name of a box where we put the number we want to print the table for. It is called "a variable"")

40 FOR I=1 TO

50 PRINT I;" X ";T;" = ";I*T


60 END

"Dad, can we tell the computer to play a game?"

"Yes, we can, but that'll take longer. Besides, you need now to do your homework. Next week end, OK?"


It had been a wonderful afternoon. He was hooked. Next week we will try to do some drawings.

Comments: 2

Comments: 2

Frédéric BEUDAERT |
RE: The HP85 and my 7 year old
I love this post and often come and read it again :D

Reminds me the days I was about 11 and my uncle teach me BASIC on his TI/99.

By the way, in the multiplication tables program, in line 40, the parameter of TO is missing ;)

It's funny when your son asks what a computer is good for if it can't Youtube... And when adults, even older than me (I'm 40), says the same, I can't help wondering... When did people came to confuse a computer and a VCR ?... :/

Have a nice day :)
Re: The HP85 and my 7 year old
Thanks for the comment - I just saw it today!
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