Ted's Book Collection

The 1970's and 1980's were a fascinating time in the history of computers. The personal computer became a reality. Many kids had easy access to computers. There was no Internet. The computers that you could buy came only with BASIC in the late 70's. Very little software was available at first. Learning to program your new personal computer was a priority. It felt at the time that anyone could write a program and sell it. There were a large number of programming books available for kids.

These days, programming books for kids are very hard to find. You can still find the old ones, but they don't really represent the current programming methods used today. To fill the gap, I wrote my own book: QBASIC Programming for Kids which is targeted at elementary school children ages 10 and up. QBASIC still runs just fine on modern Windows PCs, and it promotes good programming habits as well.

My book collection is focused mainly on kids computer books from the late 70's and early 80's, although I do feel free to stray when a book is of unique interest. Programming books for kids are top priority in the collection.

Books In My Collection

Here are the books in my collection including pictures (click for larger versions) and a short review of each book.


Abrashkin and Williams (1958) - Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine
Long before "The Magic School Bus", there was Danny Dunn. Danny was always using (or abusing) science and having great adventures as a result. In this book, Danny and his friends program a computer to do their homework. However, in the process they end up knowing the material anyway. Mentions the IBM 705. This is the book that introduces Irene as a main character in the series. I used to listen to the "Golden Records" album (Golden LP 239, also WONDERLAND WLP 338, composed by Julie Mandel) all the time. Peruvians live in Peru! Wonder if it's on CD yet?

Ahl, David H. (1978) - BASIC Computer Games
A collection of 101 games in BASIC. Click here for the online version.

Barrett, N.S. (1985) - Computers (Picture Library)


Berger, Melvin (1972) - Computers
A great book for younger kids. Focuses on the basics of how a computer works and applications like airline reservations and space exploration. Favorite quotes: "Man probably could not have reached the moon without the help of a high-speed computer." Later the book mentions that a computer can do 100,000 adds in under a second. Not very "high-speed" by today's standards. After pointing out that a computer can't do anything without a program written by a human: "Do you see why some people call the computer a high-speed idiot?"

Campbell, Siminoff and Yates (1982) - The Timex Personal Computer Made Simple.

Cole and Degen (1999) - The Magic School Bus: Gets Programmed
In their typical, "Are you sure we're learning something?" style, this book takes you on a whirlwind tour through the building-blocks of a computer. Carlos's little brother Mikey hacks the school's new computer (are you sure we should teach kids these things) and makes it do all their chores. Hmmm, sounds a bit like Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine.

Collier and MacLachlan (1998) - Charles Babbage and the Engines of Perfection

Cook and Manning (1999) - Why Doesn't My Floppy Disk Flop?
It is very strange to find a computer book for kids from the late 90's, but I'll take what I can get.

Dublin and Kelman (1986) - Macmillan Computer Literacy
High School computer textbook. Units: Computers Yesterday and Today, The Computer System, Using Software Tools, Computer Programming, Computers and Society. Includes an appendix that shows popular PC keyboards (Apple, PET, TRS-80, IBM PC...) and describes their special keys. This strikes me as maybe the first and only general (non-AP) computer book for high schools. I wonder if there were ever any others? If not, then this is a gem.

Elliot, Sharon (1984) - The Micro

Gonick, Larry (1983) - The Cartoon Guide to the Computer
My copy is badly beat-up, could use a better copy. Oddly this isn't really for kids. It's more for first-year CS majors.

Greene, Laura (1985) - Computer Pioneers (A Computer-Awareness First Book)
A very thorough history of computers from Blaise Pascal to the IBM PC. For older kids.
Halacy, D.S. Jr. (1973) - What Makes a Computer Work?
A quick read for older kids. Covers the history of computers, the binary number system, binary arithmetic, decision making, programming, a little bit of BASIC. Prediction: Computers to guide cars (Correct! It's called "GPS". The picture in the book makes it look like a navigation unit with a driver still at the wheel.)
Hargrove, James (1984) - Microcomputers at Work (A New True Book)
My beloved TRS-80 Model I is on the cover of this one. Big type and great pictures for younger kids. Covers the history of computers from ENIAC to the PC, the parts of a computer, applications, and the future. Predictions (and reality 2004): Huge memories (correct), no tapes or floppy disks needed (sorry, replaced by CDs/DVDs), natural language programming (sorry), voice recognition (sorry).
Herda, D.J. (1984) - Microcomputers (A Computer-Awareness First Book)
For older kids. A fascinating buyers guide that captures the height of PC incompatibility in the early eighties before the IBM PC replaced all others. "...can you imagine the creative possibilities in using your computer and music synthesizer with a voice-recognition and speech-synthesis device? The possibilities are endless!" And, I might add, pointless. If you can ignore the unbridled (and unrealistic) enthusiasm about computer music, you'll find plenty of great historic pictures and price lists. Walks through some very simple BASIC programs using the PRINT statement.
Herda, D.J. (1985) - Computer Peripherals (A Computer-Awareness First Book)
Another buyers guide from Herda covering peripherals. This time he's a little less enthused about computer music. Covers keyboards, monitors, printers, storage, modems and accessories. Has short reviews of each of the "big-4" online information services at the time. Wonderfully dated pictures and price ranges throughout, although he avoids specific prices this time around.
Isaaman, Daniel and Tyler, Jenny (1982) - Computer Spacegames for C64, VIC20, Apple, TRS80, Electron, BBC, Spectrum & ZX81
Colorful and exciting. It's Usborne after all. All the programs are about 2 pages long with comments in the margin describing how they work.
Jacobsen, Karen (1982) - Computers (A New True Book)
Big type and great pictures for younger kids. Covers the history of computers: the Abacus, Pascal's adding machine, the Jacquard loom, Hollerith (no Babbage!?). Covers punched cards, binary numbers, text as numbers, computer programs, microchips, microcomputers, and applications. It's my daughter's personal favorite. 45 pages

Jeremiah, David (1979) - The Computer Revolution (Exploration and Discovery)

Johnston, J.M. (1983) - Computers: Menus, Loops and Mice (First Look Book #3)
Appears to wrap up the series, but I haven't read the first two. For older kids. Written as a conversation between a kid and a computer expert. Starts with the design and implementation of a Solar House Controller using flowcharting and BASIC. Implementation is somewhat contrived, using non-existent BASIC commands ("PORT", "SET", "RESET") but the concepts are sound. Covers CPU processing, menus, databases, graphics, games. The last 1/3 of the book is spent on wild predictions (by 2043), some of which have already come true, like pocket computer dictionaries, hearing implants, computerized pulse/blood pressure monitors, debit cards, direct deposit, and PDAs. My favorite prediction is that school will be taught by computer and there will be no passing or failing. Errata: On page 28, a line 55 should be included to clear the sum variable, "55 SM=0". On page 33 the flowchart is incorrect. The program counter should be incremented after every instruction, not just after "other type[s] of instruction[s]".

Lampton, Christopher (1986) - How to Create Adventure Games (A Computer-Awareness First Book)

Larsen, Sally Greenwood (1981) - Computers For Kids (Apple II Plus Edition)

Liberty, Jesse (1999) - The Complete Idiot's Guide to A Career in Computer Programming.
Although meant for adults, very readable for older kids. A miniature Computer Science 101 course. Too bad about the condescending title. Great to keep on your shelf at work if you do software development. Should get quite a few chuckles.
Lien, Dr. David A. (1977) - TRS-80 Microcomputer System User's Manual for Level 1
The book that came with the TRS-80 Model I with Level 1 BASIC. I spent many happy hours reading this book in front of my brand new TRS-80 in November of 1979. Inspired my own QBASIC Programming for Kids book. PDF version available at www.trs-80.com
Lipscomb and Zuanich (1982) - BASIC Fun: Computer Games, Puzzles, and Problems Children Can Write
A collection of BASIC programs organized by complexity. Each chapter briefly describes a new BASIC statement then provides programs showing how the statement is used. Covers PRINT, LET, GOTO, INPUT, strings, IF..THEN, INT, RND, ABS, FOR..NEXT, TAB, arrays, and subroutines. Includes ideas for expanding the programs, variable lists with descriptions, and notes describing important parts of the programs. Assumes the reader already knows how to use their computer. Fails to mention RUN, LIST or NEW. 176 pages.
Matthias and Hillerich - I can be a computer operator
"Someday soon everyone will be a computer operator. Everyone will need to know how to use a computer because computers will be everywhere." Large print for very young children. (0516018388)
McIntire, Thomas C. (1979) - The A to Z Book of Computer Games
A collection of 26 games in BASIC. An extensive description of the inner workings of each program is included. The appendix covers variations in BASIC implementations. From the description of the "Cokes" program: "Notwithstanding our enthusiasm for modular programming...this program is simple straight-line coding. Some programming problems just don't seem to deserve highfalutin engineering." Words to live by.

Muller, Jim (1997) - The Great Logo Adventure

Myers, Roy E. (1982) - Microcomputer Graphics
Not exactly a kids book, but lots of examples. Apple II oriented, but enough background is provided to translate to any platform.

Nardo, Don (1990) - Computers: Mechanical Minds (The Encyclopedia of DISCOVERY and INVENTION)

Sherman, Josepha (2003) - The History of the Personal Computer
I have two copies of this. Very kid-friendly. Lots of great historic photos. I especially like the picture on page 33 which shows a kid typing in a BASIC program from his notebook into a Commodore 64. Compare that to the picture on page 46 showing a kid of 2003 surfing the Internet (complete with a banner ad for an online Casino!). It is very depressing. The computer is now nothing more than a glorified TV that entices kids to gamble.

Sherman, Josepha (2003) - The History of the Internet
From ARPANET to the World Wide Web. Covers the events, technologies, and people responsible for the modern day Internet. Very well written. For kids 9 and up, but very readable. Favorite quote is a caption: "These hackers are playing a hacking game called 'capture the flag' at a convention." Shows a shot of some attendees at DEFCON networked together. I assume this is Quake CTF. Not exactly a hacking game, but certainly a favorite of hackers everywhere.

Sherman, Josepha (2003) - Internet Safety

Simon, Seymour (1985) - How to Talk to your Computer
Ages 5 to 9. This book focuses on the "step-by-step" nature of programming. Teaches BASIC, line numbers, PRINT, and END. Also teaches Logo, showing how to draw a square.
Simon, Seymour (1985) - Meet the Computer
Ages 5 to 9. This book focuses on the parts of a computer, and how it works from input to output. Covers using the keyboard, programs, programs on tape, joysticks, the CPU, ROM, RAM, and output.
Simon, Seymour (1985) - Bits and Bytes
Ages 5 to 9. A computer dictionary.
Simon, Seymour (1985) - The BASIC Book
Ages 5 to 9. Covers PRINT, END, GOTO, FOR..NEXT, INPUT, RUN, NEW, and LIST. It's Adam's birthday, and the kids program the computer to wish him a Happy Birthday.

Slater, Don (1986) - Information Technology (Modern Technology)

Stamper, Judith B. and Genviere C. (1998) - 101 Wacky Computer Jokes
"Where do computers go to dance? The disk-o." This one's a groan-a-minute! (0590130048)
Sutphin, Susan (1985) - Child's Play: A Self-Teaching Guide to the Commodore 64
For older kids. Comprehensive guide to programming in BASIC on the Commodore 64. Focused on discussion and explanation. Recommended for readers who prefer a more conversational approach to learning. Works best when you are sitting in front of the machine (or an emulator). Each chapter has exercises with answers in the back.
Wild and Zyskowski (1984) - Shaping Logo on your Apple
A good kid's level text with fill-in-the-blank exercises, and transparent screen overlays for practicing your turtle navigation skills. Covers FORWARD, BACK, RIGHT, LEFT, REPEAT, PENUP, PENDOWN, procedures and recursion. If you skip recursion and add some of the fun color commands, this is what I would recommend teaching before moving to a more conventional language. Although intended for Apple Logo, works with any standard Logo with minor modifications that are discussed in the book.

Wold, Allen L (1984) - Computers in Space

Zabinski and Mazzola (1984) - Apple II For Kids From 8 to 80
Workbook. Versions are also available for the TRS-80, IBM PC, and PCjr. Wish I had them all, but I only have this one. Zabinski runs the National Computer Camps for kids.

Zuanich and Lipscomb (1983) - BASIC Fun with Graphics (The IBM/PC Computer Way)
A collection of graphics programs including notes explaining interesting portions of each program. Includes a "How To Use" page (missing in their 1982 book) that describes basic operation of the computer including getting into BASICA, NEW, LIST, RUN, SAVE and LOAD. Each chapter covers a new statement, and a warmup section at the beginning of each chapter provides a description of each statement and exercises. Covers PRINT, LOCATE, LINE, PSET, DRAW, CIRCLE, PUT, GET, COLOR, PAINT and more. Last chapter shows how to use SIN and COS. 160 pages, 8 color plates.

Books I Want

Johnston, J.M. - "Computers: Beeps, Whirs and Blinking Lights" (covers programming)

Zuanich/Lipscomb Franklin Watts Computer Literacy Skills books

There are several others in this series, but I'd like to take a look at those two before hunting down the rest.

Franklin Watts Computer-Awareness First Book Series

Lien, Dr. David A. (1989) - Learning IBM Basic (ISBN#: 0932760139)

Maxfield and Brown (1997) - Bebop Bytes Back: An Unconventional Guide to Computers

Zabinski and Mazzola (1984) - IBM PC For Kids From 8 to 80

Lampton, Christopher: Graphics and Animation on the TRS-80: Models I, III and 4

Thomas, David A.: Math-Computer Connection (10/1986)

Wold, Allen L.: Computer Science. Franklin Watts, 1984.

Simon, Seymour: "Computer Sense, Computer Nonsense"

RIT's book list

Currently On Order

Hmmm, I don't think these are actually on order. Need to check if I have any of these, then consider placing a new order or two to continue expanding the collection. Probably need to hurry as these are getting more and more rare over time.

J. M. Johnston - Computers: Sizes, Shapes, and Flavors

Christopher Lampton - Programming in BASIC (Computer-Awareness First Book)

Robert Perry - Computer Crime (Computer Awareness First Books)

Larry Kettlekamp - Computer Graphics: How It Works, What It Does

Fred D'Ignazio - Messner's Introduction to the Computer

Truly on Order

Nothing at the moment...

Current State of Children and Computers

As of 2004, children are taught to use applications like Word, etc... in elementary school. Their first experience with Computer Science might be an AP Computer Science course in High School. Java is the language of choice. Previously it was C++, so there are old AP Computer Science books featuring C++ still available, but they are being phased out.

Links of Interest

AbeBooks.com - Fantastic site for landing hard-to-find books.

Atari Archives - Scans of several classic computer books from back in the day. Hopefully more of this history will be captured electronically and made available to all.

Skylight Publishing - High School level textbooks of today. Apparently they teach Advanced Placement Java these days (2004). Interesting titles include Litvin and Litvin, "C++ for You++" and their "Java Methods" books.

Fred D'Ignazio

Copyright ©2009, Ted Felix. All Rights Reserved.