Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

The appeal of “Hello World”

Apple II
Apple II

When I first used a computer, back in the heady days of the early 1980s, programming was the first thing you did. Turn on a computer that didn’t even have a disk in the drive, and you could type out programs in a variation on BASIC. You didn’t need to learn how to start up a programming environment—the whole thing was a programming environment, from which you could play games or launch a word processor or whatever else you wanted to do.

And so I wrote programs. I got a BASIC reference book and learned how to use every single command of the Commodore BASIC on the Commodore PET, and then moved on to the richer and more expansive AppleSoft BASIC inside the Apple II.

Of course, everyone’s first program is “Hello, World,” or some variation thereof. Then came programs that asked you a question and returned an answer.…

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