John Bell co-authors book examining one line of programming

Bell John 10 Print CoverA picture may be worth a thousand words, but in this case a single line of code is worth 300 pages and 70 illustrations. Still Water Senior Researcher John Bell is one of the authors of a new MIT Press book that scrutinizes a single line of code from the Commodore 64.

The line in question, 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, generates a maze from a series of diagonal glyphs, prompting a collaborative cultural critique from software savants like Bell, Nick Montfort, Ian Bogost, Mark Marino, and Casey Reas.

Cory Doctorow profiles the book on the popular blog Boing Boing:

Remember those BASIC programs you typed into your C64? Now there’s a book written about one. And the program is only 1 line. And 10 people wrote this book. As one. And they’re not lunatics but teach at MIT and USC and other fancy places. And they even wrote programs to study it.

10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 is a book of Critical Code Studies that looks at the code and culture of a 1-line program that ran on the Commodore 64. This book uses that 1-liner to explore BASIC programming culture in the 1980s and to reflect on its role in inspiring programmers to take the next step. By Nick Montfort, Patsy Baudoin, John Bell, Ian Bogost, Jeremy Douglass, Mark C. Marino, Michael Mateas, Casey Reas, Mark Sample and Noah Vawter.

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