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Turing…still alive and kicking!

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The programming language, that is! It was created and programmed by Rick Holt to entice kids into the world of programming.  It is now in the public domain and still available and taught as a first year programming language in many high schools.   There is even an open source version on GitHub.

Unlike newer languages, Turing has very simple syntax.  It can easily do colours (albeit limited to 256), import graphics and music, create GUI buttons, read and write to files, resize and position its application window as well as create and control sprites.  Surprisingly enough it even has the ability to create network connections for multi-player games.

It doesn’t have any of the conventions and rules that other programs are known for so it has a chameleon-like ability to mimic their conventions (like identifier naming etc) so kids can learn some of these things before moving on to Java or C/++.  It definitely can make the transition much easier in the next course.

Although it is a top-down language, it does have the ability to forward a subprogram which subverts its top-down limitations.  And, if memory serves, there were originally two versions:  an Object Oriented version and a simple Turing which have been combined into one.  So it is possible to use the OO version of most commands so drawbox is also available as Draw.box which could be used to introduce the “dot” operator.

Since most kids aren’t familiar with this language it is ideal in a school setting.  Kids who have prior programming experience tend to know Python or HTML. So if they are taking a course in one of these languages they will be bored rather quickly.  If Turing is the language then regardless of their programming abilities all kids will be starting from scratch together thereby leveling the playing field.

So don’t dismiss Turing as possible entry level language for your program.  It might surprise you!


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