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The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Programming
ISBN 0672302691 / 9780672302695 / 0-672-30269-1
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The material in Absolute Beginner's Guide to Programming won't help you get a job, at least not directly. You see, this book emphasizes QBasic, which is a very elementary programming language designed to help programming novices learn about the fundamental concepts of writing computer programs. The idea is that novices will be able to take the programming knowledge they develop under QBasic and apply it to more powerful languages that are better suited to solving real business and technical problems. (Such languages include C, C++, COBOL, and Java.) That said, this book does a good job of teaching the essentials of programming in the QBasic environment. It helps regular people start to think like programmers.
Author Greg Perry put this book together in 1993, when Windows 3.x was still standard and the Internet had yet to reach the popular consciousness. More importantly, object-oriented programming languages weren't as big a deal then as they are today--a procedural language like QBasic has less relevance now. Still, Perry's coverage of basic calculations, variables, loops, data structures, searches, sorts, and other fundamental concepts remains relevant today. He also helps get new programmers into the commercial mindset by explaining the importance of clear documentation and advance design work. Your biggest challenge in following along with Perry may be getting a copy of QBasic, but don't worry--many sites make the language available for free download. --David Wall
Topics covered: What computers are; how computers use programs; what programmers do; how to plan and write a program; and how to use variables, operators, loops, arrays, files, graphics routines, and other essential elements of the QBasic language. [via]