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Jim Maitland
Programming: BASIC
ZX Spectrum 48K

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Mike Wright
Chris Bourne

Are you the well-read, technical type with an O-level in Maths and not overawed by computers? if you are you will probably not be interested in Basically Speaking, a new elementary course in Basic programming from Computer Publications.

The course is both cassette and book, the cassette containing 13 programs. The first of these includes some machine code and is intended to show off the Spectrum's capabilities. The others are written in Basic and are tied in with the exercises in the book.

Two different versions are available to cater for the differences between the Spectrum Plus and the original 16/48K version.

Each chapter introduces new concepts starting from getting familiar with the keyboard through to arrays and is designed to take about an hour to work through. The chapters are short and each ends with a summary highlighting the concepts introduced and a set of exercises to reinforce them.

The programs used are intended to be practical. checking bank balances, and the like and they are all kept as short as possible.

I particularly like the way the material is structured and avoids big leaps. One big leap commonly taken is the jump from the Print At command to drawing graphics using Plot and PDraw. Basically Speaking avoids this problem by missing out these commands. Although Ink and Paper colours are explained they are left until the latter stages. Also missing is the use of the more advanced mathematical functions.

The book is written in what is intended as a lively lighthearted conversational style. There is a very fine line between achieving this and being condescending. Personally I found that it strayed too often into the latter.

The course gives a very good starting point for learning Basic programming. However it really is very basic, you may find you soon need to move on to a more advanced course.

Label: Computer Publication, 5 Western Drive, Shepperton, Middx
Price: £9.95
Reviewer: Mike Wright


A very basic tutorial package. Well thought out and presented though.