**The Best of Creative Computing Volume 1 (published 1976)**

Reviews of 34 Books on BASIC (Problem-Solving With the Computer, by Edwin R. Sage, 1969)

Appendix A, on matrices, is exactly the same as previously, with the addition of a footnote stating that "the introduction to matrices is based on an unpublished paper written by David L. Smith, currently a lecturer at the University of Illinois." Appendix B, on Additional BASIC Statements, covers some of the same areas as before; two of the programs that before had no output, now have one. There are now two pages on TAB and PRINT USING, with a program that is supposed to print HI three times (but somehow prints it five times), and a page on RESTORE. The two new appendixes are on Using Files in BASIC, with five pages on creating and using files, three programs, and five-plus pages on Using BASIC on a Mini-Computer, with an 87-line program for the PDP-8/E that simulates the landing of a lunar rocket, although without output. The last appendix, on Package Programs, presents four of the six programs from the first edition, dropping matrix inversion and grade analysis. The linear programming example uses the same objective function, subject to the same constraints, but the program is completely different, and produces a much shorter output, half a page instead of two pages. The old Selected Bibliography was a single list, two pages long. The new one is over three pages long, with several publications for each chapter, except for chapters 3-8, for which there is one group of five books on BASIC, by Farina, Kemeny & Kurtz, Sass, Sharpe, and Spencer. All these changes do little to help this become a unified text, with a feeling of overall cohesiveness between its various chapters. The disjointedness persists. The biggest fault is still the sudden and overwhelming presentation of the entire BASIC repertoire of characters, definitions, statements, and error messages, after only one short program has been given, thus putting a stone wall directly in the reader's path. However, the book no longer begins to fall apart apart by page 13; because of the added material, the collapse doesn't begin until page 32. *** 6. A Guide to BASIC Programming: A Time-Sharing Language, by Donald D. Spencer. Pub. Dec. 2, 1969, by Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass., 216 pages 6 1/2 x 9 1/4, $6.95 (paperback). One of the better books, with an easily understood text, many examples, flowcharts throughout. Rating: B+ This book has many features to recommend it, and only a few drawbacks. There are many examples of each new statement, and many flowcharts, just about one for each program. Every chapter ends in exercises, although without answers. Spencer is the only author other than Sass (21) to provide a short history of time-sharing, starting with the 1961 CTSS at MIT. The first chapter also presents a 15-line program for finding the roots of a quadratic equation, but with no explanation other than the mechanics of putting it into the system. The second chapter, an Introduction to BASIC, is mainly about flowcharting. The next chapter, on Elements of BASIC, does get into the language, in a slow but sure way, using only REM and LET. The fourth chapter, on Reading and Printing, contains the first complete program, six lines on determining true annual interest rate, plus five more programs. Chapter five begins to separate the men from the boys, or rather the high-school kids from the college students, with one example that uses the summation sigma. Another example goes off on a tangent by taking up three pages to discuss in detail the Newton-Raphson method for calculating square roots. Chapter six is on loops. Chapter seven, on Arrays and Subscripted Variables, contains another digression, a confusing one on the knight's tour. This may be a practical application of tables, but in a text as elementary as this, it's too much, adding little or nothing other than confusion. The only point in including it seems to be the use of subscripted variables to indicate the path of the tour. There is a fine chapter on matrices, 16 pages, taking the time to discuss the subject fully and carefully. Chapter ll is Sample Programs For Study, selected from a variety of fields, with 17 problems on 45 pages, including Fibonacci numbers, coordinate geometry, greatest common divisor, compound interest, satellite orbit (two-dimensional), polynomial evaluation, generating prime numbers, maze-running, and magic-square generation. The last chapter, Problems For Reader Solution, has 23 problems, some with flowcharts (but none with solutions) including mortgage calculation, inventory turnover, number-base conversion, etc. The section on references is unique: five pages that list 8 books on BASIC, 13 manufacturers' books on BASIC, 15 on other programming languages, 5 on programming and computers, etc. There are five appendixes. The first is on BASIC implementations, a unique chart showing which of 96 statements are available on each of 14 different timesharing systems. The second appendix is 7 pages on the ASR33 Teletype, followed by two pages on General Electric time-sharing commands, then a five-page glossary, and a two-page true-false quiz on BASIC. This is one of the better books, with an easily understood text, many examples, flowcharts throughout, and many programs. The drawbacks are few: no answers to the exercises, and wandering off twice (Newton-Raphson, knight's tour). The use of the summation sigma may actually bother only a few readers who haven't gotten that far in mathematics. The typography is distracting, as the book is not well designed. There are too many typefaces; page 33, for instance, contains five different ones, making it a very busy page, with different fonts for the text, section headings, sample program lines, an actual program, and italics for formula constants. *** 7. Problem-Solving With the Computer, by Edwin R. Sage. Pub. 1969 by Entelek, Newburyport, Mass., 244 pages, 7 x 10, $4.95 (paperback). Very slowly paced, aimed at secondary-school students. Rating: B The first thing one might notice in this book is the very wide margin, almost three inches, which is used 47 times alongside programs and flowcharts. If the margin were reduced to just under an inch, the book could be made almost 30% narrower. This is a high-school text, for grades 8 through 12. It teaches by giving a problem and then discussing the solution in detail. There is a flowchart for every demonstration problem. There are eight chapters: BASIC Skills I, BASIC Skills II, A New Look at Numbers (rounding off, primes, random numbers, etc.), Algebra and the Computer, Geometry and the Computer, Data (FOR-NEXT, subscripts), Determinants, Approximations. Sage is one of the very few to discuss debugging with the use of PRINT statements, and also by longhand, and in detail. He is also the only one to use the phrase "fall through," and to explain this highly important principle. There are exercises after the introduction of every new idea, but without answers. These problems are all purely mathematical, and show little imagination. The one place where some imagination is used is in introducing flowcharts, where this is done for the steps involved in making a telephone call. Some items are covered only as "Additional Facts" following the summaries at the ends of the chapters. This includes SQR and ABS, covered in one sentence each. In the chapter on Geometry and the Computer, many problems are examined at length and in great detail. This is