Re: META: Recommendations for a 13 year old transhumanist

Dan Clemmensen (
Sat, 08 May 1999 10:59:26 -0400

Chandra Patel wrote:
> Hi list. My name is Chandra Patel. I'm a thirteen year old [....]
> I'm also interested in sharpening my programming skills which have been
> isolated mainly to BASIC and QBASIC at this point. What computer languages
> are best for beginning my trek toward Coding Deity status? There seem to be
> lots of options and my teachers and friends have no ideas about where to
> start.
Learn C, but first read a book on Pascal. There is a particular formal language property known as "scoping" that C doesn't really have, but that should be part of the way you think about programing. Pascal has it. Also, if you are in an American school, the AP tests in computer science are still based on Pascal. Most of the neat open source code in the world (GNU, Linux, etc.) is in C. Some is in C++, and some newer stuff is in Java, Perl, Tcl/Tk, Python, etc., all of which use metaphors from C.

I've lost track of all the languages I've learned since I started in 1969. After you learn C, you can easily teach yourself the latest language du jour when you need it. Also, after you've had some fun for a year or two, and certainly before you tackle a major project, you should learn some software engineering: there are principles of code construction that are more important than the particulars of the language you are using.