10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10

10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10

NICK MONTFORT
PATSY BAUDOIN
JOHN BELL
IAN BOGOST
JEREMY DOUGLASS
MARK C. MARINO
MICHAEL MATEAS
CASEY REAS
MARK SAMPLE
NOAH VAWTER
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 328
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qf9r1
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10
    Book Description:

    This book takes a single line of code--the extremely concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64 inscribed in the title--and uses it as a lens through which to consider the phenomenon of creative computing and the way computer programs exist in culture. The authors of this collaboratively written book treat code not as merely functional but as a text--in the case of 10 PRINT, a text that appeared in many different printed sources--that yields a story about its making, its purpose, its assumptions, and more. They consider randomness and regularity in computing and art, the maze in culture, the popular BASIC programming language, and the highly influential Commodore 64 computer.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-30550-1
    Subjects: Technology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. 5 SERIES FOREWORD
    (pp. IX-XII)

    Software is deeply woven into contemporary life—economically, culturally, creatively, politically—in manners both obvious and nearly invisible. Yet while much is written about how software is used, and the activities that it supports and shapes, thinking about software itself has remained largely technical for much of its history. Increasingly, however, artists, scientists, engineers, hackers, designers, and scholars in the humanities and social sciences are finding that for the questions they face, and the things they need to build, an expanded understanding of software is necessary. For such understanding they can call upon a strand of texts in the history...

  4. 10 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-18)

    Computer programs process and display critical data, facilitate communication, monitor and report on sensor networks, and shoot down incoming missiles. But computer code is not merely functional. Code is a peculiar kind of text, written, maintained, and modified by programmers to make a machine operate. It is a text nonetheless, with many of the properties of more familiar documents. Code is not purely abstract and mathematical; it has significant social, political, and aesthetic dimensions. The way in which code connects to culture, affecting it and being influenced by it, can be traced by examining the specifics of programs by reading...

  5. 15 REM VARIATIONS IN BASIC
    (pp. 19-30)

    Even small changes to the 10 PRINT code can have a significant impact on the visual output and the pattern produced. The output of 10 PRINT has a unique visual appeal that can be understood in terms of design (a diagonal vs. an orthogonal composition, for instance), and in terms of how it plays against the contextual expectations of the historical period when it emerged (all-text BASIC programs on the one hand and graphical software, particularly videogames, on the other).

    To understand more about this, itʹs possible not only to read the program the way one might go over a...

  6. 20 MAZES
    (pp. 31-50)

    What is the pattern produced by 10 PRINT? The 1982Commodore 64 Userʹs Guidesays the program uses the two graphical characters ʺfor the mazeʺ (53). And the programmer who submitted the one-line version in the magazineRUNalso described it as ʺdrawing a continuous mazeʺ (13). Surely, the program would be less interesting if framed as ʺRandom Pattern of Lines.ʺ But if it is a maze, what kind of maze is it and what cultural associations does that evoke?

    An adult seeing a maze appear on the screen, after a young programmer has typed in and run 10 PRINT,...

  7. 25 REM PORTS TO OTHER PLATFORMS
    (pp. 51-62)

    Adapting a program from one hardware system to another is ʺporting,ʺ a term derived from the Classical Latin portāre—to carry or bear, not unlike the carrying across (trans + lātus) of translation. A port is borne from one platform to another, and the bearer is the programmer, who must gather up the details of the original and find places for them amid the particulars of the destination, attempting to identify and preserve the programʹs essential properties. The translator faces these same sorts of problems when encountering a text, and such problems are particularly acute when the text is a...

  8. 30 REGULARITY
    (pp. 63-104)

    In 1959 artist Vera Molnar createdUntitled (Quatre éléments distribués au hasard), a collage similar to 10 PRINT (figure 30.1). A variant of the 10 PRINT program shipped with the first Commodore 64s in 1982 (figure 30.2). And in 1987, Cyril Stanley Smith more or less recreated 10 PRINTʹs output from a reduced, random arrangement of Truchet tiles (figure 30.3). How did the same essential mazelike pattern come to appear in all of these different contexts in the twentieth century?

    The repetitions of the 10 PRINT process are connected to two categories of artistic tradition and to the flow of...

  9. 35 REM VARIATIONS IN PROCESSING
    (pp. 105-118)

    Building a high-resolution, interactive program that is inspired by 10 PRINT allows visual design variations that might not be easy or even possible within a Commodore 64 program. Computational visual art has been created on a variety of platforms and in many systems and languages over the last fifty years, but the last decade has seen an explosion in the use of commercial tools for designers with embedded programming languages (most notably, Adobe Flash) along with programming environments designed by visual artists. John Maedaʹs Design by Numbers system from 2001 offers one example of the latter; a far more influential...

  10. 40 RANDOMNESS
    (pp. 119-146)

    An essential element of 10 PRINT is randomness; the program could not produce its mesmerizing visual effect without it. This randomness comes by way of RND, a standard function in BASIC. RND has been part of the BASIC lexicon since the languageʹs early days at Dartmouth. What the function does is easily characterized, yet behind those three letters lie decades, even centuries, of a history bound up in mathematics, art, and less abstract realms of culture. This chapter explores randomness in computing and beyond. The role of randomness in games, literature, and the arts is considered, as are the origins...

  11. 45 REM ONE-LINERS
    (pp. 147-156)

    One-liners, as single-line programs such as 10 PRINT are known, predate home computing, the exchange of BASIC code in magazines, and even the BASIC programming language itself. These concise little programs were written at least as early as the beginning of the 1960s. The language that was most famous for writing such programs was APL, designed by Kenneth Iverson using special (non-ASCII) notation. APL was first described in his 1957 bookA Programming Languageand was first implemented at IBM beginning in 1960.

    In APL there is no limit on the length of a line; anything that a programmer can...

  12. 50 BASIC
    (pp. 157-194)

    The character graphics themselves, the way they line up in rows and then in columns, and even the speed at which they appear—these characteristics all contribute to the aesthetic of 10 PRINTʹs output. However, 10 PRINT functions the way it does, in part, because it is written in a specific programming language with particular affordances and attributes: BASIC.

    This ʺBeginnerʹs All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Codeʺ has a fabled cultural and technical history. BASIC was developed by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz, two professors at Dartmouth College. In 1964 its creators freely shared a working version of the language, leading to...

  13. 55 REM A PORT TO THE ATARI VCS
    (pp. 195-208)

    Alongside the general purpose home computers launched in 1977—the TRS-80, the Apple II, and the Commodore PET—was another computer, one that was hugely successful but that most people do not recognize as a computer. This was a videogame console, the Atari Video Computer System (VCS), which later came to be known as the Atari 2600. Unlike the other computers, the Atari VCS was built specifically to play videogames. It was also designed to be far less expensive: the VCS was priced at $199, while the original Apple II cost an astounding $1,298.

    Due to its intended use, the...

  14. 60 THE COMMODORE 64
    (pp. 209-242)

    The Commodore 64 (see figure 60.1) has been hailed byGuinness World Recordsas the best-selling single model of computer ever. People associated with Commodore have estimated, officially and unofficially, that 22 million or 17 million units were sold. A detailed study of Commodore 64 serial numbers has provided a better estimate, that 12.5 million Commodore 64s were sold (Steil 2011), which is still enough to earn the computer this distinction.

    Although production ended in 1994, this computer system remains functioning and part of the popular consciousness in many ways. VICE and many other emulators allow users to start up...

  15. 65 REM MAZE WALKER IN BASIC
    (pp. 243-260)

    10 PRINT can be appreciated purely for its visual qualities—its regular asymmetry, its determined ranging over and across the screen, and even its colors, two shades of blue that can be pleasing. But 10 PRINT can also be interpreted as a maze, a labyrinth with routes and potentially with a solution. One might even wander through the maze, tracing a path with oneʹs eyes, a finger, or some computational procedure.

    What would such a computational procedure, and a program that supports its use, look like?

    To see the answer, this section uses a software studies approach, writing programs to...

  16. 70 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 261-268)

    10 PRINT has generated far more than a pattern that resembles an unending scrolling maze. It has generated talks, posts, papers, online conversation, demoscene productions, and now this book. But its most important product may be the countless programmers inspired by its concision, enticed by its output, and intrigued by its clever manipulation of two very simple symbols.

    While 10 PRINT is a very particular, historically located object of study, it is not completely unique, precious, or rare. Whether or not new Commodore 64 owners realized it, a version of the program was included with every new computer, making it...

  17. 75 END
    (pp. 269-270)
  18. 80 THANKS
    (pp. 271-274)
  19. 85 WORKS CITED
    (pp. 275-286)
  20. 90 VARIANTS OF 10 PRINT
    (pp. 287-294)
  21. 95 ABOUT THE AUTHORS
    (pp. 295-298)
  22. 100 INDEX
    (pp. 299-310)