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I'm trying to remember the title of a book on Commodore 64 programming that I had as a child. Here is what I remember about it:

  • Published some time between 1982 and 1985 and sold in Canada.
  • The cover was dark purple, possibly with orange and yellow accents, with a minimalist cartoon of a boy and a girl at a computer. The artwork style was probably dated even by 1982 standards.
  • Printed in black and white.
  • Printed in "landscape" orientation, with pages wider than they were tall.
  • Normal book binding (i.e., not spiral-bound).
  • All text was in English.
  • The layout of the main matter was rather sparse, with only a few rudimentary illustrations, and no attempt at reproducing the C64's custom character set.
  • The content of the book was a fairly simple introduction to using the C64, including the screen editor (moving the cursor around, changing the text colour, using the Shift and C= keys for graphic characters, etc.) and very basic BASIC programming, with programs only a few lines long.
  • One of the first BASIC programs it presented was for drawing a "monster", which turned out to be a funny face crafted with PRINT statements containing colour codes and graphic characters.

2 Answers 2

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A few more hours of searching finally turned up the book:

Computers for Kids

Larsen, Sally Greenwood. Computers for Kids. Creative Computing Press, Morris Plains, NJ, 1984. ISBN 0-916688-63-1.

Larsen produced several editions of this book, each for a different microcomputer – I've found at least ones for the TRS-80, Atari, Sinclair ZX-81, Apple II+, VIC-20, and Commodore 64. The VIC-20 edition appears to have also been published in a German translation. The TRS-80 edition is available on The Internet Archive.

According to the book's publisher, David Ahl, the books are now in the public domain. EDIT: I wrote to David Ahl to ask about the current copyright status of books by authors other than himself where the copyright was transferred to his company, Creative Computing Press. He confirmed to me that his public domain dedication does not apply to such works. So Sally Greenwood Larsen's books may still be under copyright, though by whom is unclear. I haven't been able to find current contact details for her, and David Ahl tells me he was last in touch with her in 1984.

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    It'll be a little while before you can do so, but don't forget to come back and accept your own answer. Glad you found it!
    – Matt Lacey
    Apr 18 at 14:50
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    Your comment about the artwork style was spot-on :) Looks almost late 60s. Apr 18 at 15:41
  • No monster in the TRS-80 edition though.
    – pipe
    Apr 18 at 23:17
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    @scruss: Ahl owned the publishing company, to which the copyright of this book was assigned, and he therefore presumably had editorial oversight (even if he's not explicitly credited). I could try writing to him to confirm this.
    – Psychonaut
    Apr 19 at 14:14
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    @scruss I've heard back from David Ahl concerning the copyright status of this book and have edited my answer accordingly.
    – Psychonaut
    Apr 21 at 16:38
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Might be Kids To Kids On The Commodore 64, it's the right format, cover sounds similar, it has stuff about monsters.

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    Comes with useful information too: "Some kids who have modems have been calling places that need special passwords. They break into these systems by illegally using stolen passwords. It’s really easy to do once you have the password, and most of these systems are poorly protected. Usually, though, there’s nothing for kids in these networks, but if they get caught, the FBI or police take their computers away and make their parents pay a fine."
    – pipe
    Apr 18 at 12:49
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    I'm afraid that's not the one. The cover of that book is mostly yellow and orange, the artwork (both on the cover and inside) is much more detailed, and the breadth and depth of the programming topics covered is much greater. My book had very simple artwork and much less text.
    – Psychonaut
    Apr 18 at 13:19

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