The Best of Creative Computing Volume 1 (published 1976)

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graphic of page

'Feature” Letter to the Editor
Dear Editor:

I've been meaning to write since your first issue, but
finishing college and other things have gotten in the way.

Your latest issue (May-Jun 75) contains so much thought
provoking material that I simply can't wait any longer, so,
here are my thoughts.

First, congratulations on a simply excellent publication!

Your content, layout, artwork and direction are just great.

To be commended above all esle, particularly this latest
issue, is Creative Computing's, DIVERSITY. By the way, I
hope you do view Creative Computing as being a member
of the Alternative Press, and not just because you're on
newsprint. You're not going to be able to keep a stance of
open-eyed diversity and attract the readership you need if
you fall into some worn-out rut. If newsprint‘s
respectability causes trouble, then come out in microfiche
also. That would be nice for permanence, anyway.

Re: David Ahl's editorial and Gregory Yob's esthetic and
philosophical comments on GEOWAR, I couldn't agree
more. My undergraduate major is philosophy and my
'heros” are John Muir, Henry Thoreau, Mohandas Gandhi
and Bertrand Russell - facts which always astonish people
since I appear to live in our computer center. I can see why
on the surface people are astounded to find that I am a
philosophy major. As was pointed out in your third issue,
computers have received a very bad press and very, very few
people have any real conception of what a computer
actually is, on the hardware or software level. [Which raises
an interesting question: which is the computer, hardware or
software? More on this later.]

I have always been deeply disturbed by the proliferation
of war games and the tendency for every new technical (or
intellectual) advance to be adapted to the purpose of
killing. The conduct of our species is what must evolve
now. Not physical evolution but intellectual.

Unfortunately, most large R & D budgets have been and
are still tied to “Defense.” That is what is so hugely
disappointing about the demise of the space program. For a
while a significant number of people were united behind a
peaceful research project of significant scale. Now we are
united behind nothing and I am afraid that the answer to
the question 'Where are we going?” is to hell and that very
quickly if we don't regain some unifying objective and goal.

I hope your editorial moves some people to take time
out from Star Trek at the CRT and spend some time
looking at the real stars. Perhaps I spend too much time
reading science fiction, but I can't believe that the future of
the human race lies totally on Terra of Sol. We are just
going to sit here and stagnate if we don't get off this planet
- at least through intellectual contact with extraterrestial
life. The current generation of computer fanatics is just the
generation to decide that this is a worthwhile goal, and it
may be the last generation capable of making such a choice.

By the end of this century we're going to be too busy
surviving to notice the stars.

Re: Ed note on page 18. I have doubts about reversals
eventually becoming palindromes because of randomness. I
am always suspicious of falling back on randomness,
because it seems pretty clear to me that there is no such
thing as true randomness. Anyway, since the number
continually gets larger, doesn't the probability of
“randomly” hitting a palindrome get smaller? If I get
around to it I'm going to play around with 1675 on the
IBM370/168 VS1.7 we're tied into. Might as well use up the
money in some of our course accounts in the interest of

/Ed note: As Fred Gruenberger and others have pointed
out, my speculation that reversals of 196 could become
palindromic due to randomness is dead wrong because the
size of the number is increasing at every step - DHA]


Enclosed is a copy of a program I just wrote which takes
the number 196 through 12066 reversals to produce a 5000
digit number without ever being palindromic. I apologize
for its being written in 370 assembly language, which has
got to be the most exclusive “language” around, but we
have to pay 22¢ a cpu second and I had to have the most
efficient program possible. With slight modification this
program would handle results up to 8,000,000 digits in
length (the system has I6 meg) but there is this slight
problem of paying for it. I may have a go at taking it out to
l0,000 digits. There is always that nagging suspicion that
the next reversal, or maybe the next, or surely the one after
that . . .

Re: Things I'd like to see discussed in Creative: More
about ways in which people have used computers to
investigate the world and themselves, i.e. situations in
which someone said “I wonder if. . .” and then used a
computer to help find out. A large selection of “I wonder
ifs. . .” without answers would be nice, too. How about a
list of prodigious problems which might lend themselves to
computer solution if only someone looks at them in the
right way?

How about some input on the average user level on the
proliferation of languages? If you're using a computer as a
tool (or a friend) to solve problems, do you get more done
if you know BASIC or ANS FORTRAN inside out or if you
have an acquaintance with PL/I or GIBBERISH II? What do
your readers like/dislike in their languages-systems? etc.

[Ed Note: “On Languages” will be a regular forum to
discuss just these issues - DHA ]

How should computer use fit into a sane lifestyle; Does
computer use overall create or solve problems? etc.

Having been myself a member of a programming team
competing in a contest (University of MO at Rolla - March
29) I have wondered if such contests encourage “good
programming.” Should they?

How does someone not in an educational institution get
time on a computer? Does anyone sell time (reasonably) to
individual users?

Re: Your upcoming issue “The Computer Threat to
Society”: Change is always a threat to staying the same. I
hope in this issue someone will follow up on the thoughts
expressed in the next to last paragraph of David Ahl's

Also, looking over your staff listing, I notice that you
are not too well represented in the midwest. Things do
occasionally happen out here, even without the benefit of
wall-to-wall people. You really should get someone out
there - talking is still the best medium for information

In any case - good luck! I'll keep trying to talk people
into subscribing.

Peace and Love,
John R. Lees, Jr.

Fulton, MO
[Ed note: John is now a regular Reviews Editor for us.

-DHA ]
Contributions welcome!

Dear Editor:

Many mathematicians that computer programming
can and should be taught to students in the upper
elementary grades. The most difficult problem facing
someone in this position is the generation of problems that
are appropriate for a computer, conceptually easy enough
for students to grasp, and engage their interest.

Included with this letter are some problems that my
6th-grade students find interesting and helpful in
demonstrating how a computer can help them solve
problems that they might meet elsewhere. Most of the
problems require only a few storage units and maybe 1
loop, but this has been plenty for my students to handle.

Charles A. Reeves
6th-grade Math/Science Teacher
Developmental Research School
The Flordia State University
Tallahassee, Florida 32306
Many of Charles' problems can be found in the
"Problems for Creative Computing" section of this and
future issues. If other readers have favorite problems, please
send them to us. - DHA

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