[Haskell-cafe] Haskell for children? Any experience?

Benjamin L. Russell DekuDekuplex at Yahoo.com
Sat Feb 19 20:10:49 CET 2011

Jason wrote:
> I remember when
> I was a kid, I wanted to be able to write things to disk so badly (I
> have no idea why), but to me that was what 'real' programming was all
> about.

Actually, that reminds me of one of my motivations for programming when 
I first started programming (in N80-BASIC on an NEC PC-8001 mkII in 
Tokyo) in circa 1983.

Back then, I first became enamored of the concept of programming upon 
seeing an Apple II-plus running a music program at a computer show (in 
Tokyo) in 1981 (just outside, and on the 38th floor of, the Sumitomo 
Sankaku Building in Shinjuku).  There were a number of computers on 
display at that event, including Commodore 64s and other Apple II-series 
models, but the one that stood out the most was an Apple II-plus hooked 
up to an organ keyboard and a color monitor (many of the other computers 
were attached to monochrome displays).  When I played music on the 
keyboard, vertical color bars appeared on the display, and the idea that 
an inanimate object could respond in real time to human actions with 
color and sound somehow felt extremely gratifying.

Two years later, in 1983, when I borrowed an NEC PC-8001 mkII (from a 
computer store in Ginza) (the no longer existent Micom Base Ginza) and 
wrote a pocket book accounting program in N80-BASIC, I insisted on 
saving my data to disk.  For some reason, the idea of being able to 
leave an external trace of my program's efforts on a physical medium, 
where the results would remain even after the computer was turned off, 
somehow made me feel as if the program had bestowed upon me, the user, 
the ability to make a difference, however minor, to the outside world as 
a direct result of programming the computer.  For some reason, from my 
child's eye then (I was 15 years old at the time), this made me feel 

> I agree that sound, animations, etc... are very sexy and if done right
> can increase their enthusiasm many fold, but it also has the ability to
> turn them off from the simple elegance of what first hooked their
> interest. So start simple and be attentive to what THEY enjoy and you
> will give them the most valuable programming knowledge of all: passion.

While I understand this approach, when I was first exposed to computer 
science in college, I thought that, too often, issues of input and 
output and storage and graphics and sound were ignored in introductory 
classes.  Although such concepts may be trivial from a theoretical 
viewpoint, from the eye of a child (or even beginning computer science 
student), they are some of the aspects that can make programming 
exciting:  the ability to cause the computer to reach to human input in 
real time with color graphics and sound, and to leave a trace of the 
interaction in the outside world for a future session even after the 
computer has been turned off.  One of the reasons that I started 
reading, for example, Paul Hudak's _The Haskell School of Expression_ 
was the author's emphasis on multimedia.  One of the reasons that I 
started programming with N80-BASIC in 1983 was the language's support 
for color graphics and (albeit elementary) sound.

-- Benjamin L. Russell

> Best of luck and keep us up to date on your blog/reddit posts!
> --
> Jason M. Knight
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