April/May 1980, Issue 7

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  (for frustrated virgins)

Dear Sir,

I think that I have discovered a plot cunningly devised by the computer fraternity to enlist new members of the right calibre. The code name for this plot is “Nascom”. Realising that all good programmers enjoy a tough puzzle, they have designed a kit with built in frustration value. The price is low enough to attract any fool with a vague interest in finding out what the “micro-revolution” is all about, but many will not overcome the first hurdle of actually getting the machine to work properly. This cuts out most normal people with wives (or husbands), families, demanding jobs and other interests besides computing. With the hard core who now try to put the Nascom to use, natural selection again plays a part, in the form of the Nascom Programming Manual. This gives a few random clues about how to write programs. More clues can be found in the pages of the INMC magazines, but the whole plot cleverly ensures that only a devoted intellectual elite get to join the fraternity.

May I make a plea on behalf of thousands of virgin Nascom users who are struggling to rediscover the wheel? Nascom are missing a marvellous educational opportunity, unless they really don’t want people to use their machines! Personally, I have some scientific background and a little general knowledge of computers, but still my experience has been of constant frustration. How anyone can survive with no previous knowledge is beyond me. Nascom should write a simple graded manual and distribute it to all Nascom owners. INMC is helping, but in a very piecemeal manner. I don’t think the reply to Mr. Hewitt’s letter Issue 5) was very helpful. Would you tell someone who wants to know how a radio works to get a circuit diagram and find out what the symbols mean? Talk about jumping In the deep end! Surely a structured program can be broken down into small units which are simpler to understand? There must be someone out there who could get a kick out of dropping down to our level and really explaining the common routines used in programs.

I am sorry if this seems like just a long moan. I do feel that Nascom are particularly bad at the art of communication and I have tried to be constructive in my criticisms.

Yours faithfully,
Brian Ward
Meopham, Kent.

Editor’s reply:

Well, is there anyone out there willing to write a ‘Beginner’s Guide to the Nascom’ ? If there is, then get writing and send it to us (we’ll vet it). Take a look at books on the market, most of them are pretty useless for the beginner, but they still sell. So if you are any good at all, your’re almost guaranteed a market.

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