6th June 2013: Basics of Computer Programming but No Actual Code! by Dr Tim Willis

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On Thursday June 6th from 7 to 10pm in The Counting House in Edinburgh, please join us for an evening with Ray Miller and Tim Willis who will be telling us about the basics of programming…

Name of speaker and subject:

Dr Tim Willis, Flexpansion Ltd.
Basics of Computer Programming – No Actual Code!


What goes on in a computer? How does it actually do anything? Recently it’s been noted that while most of us know how to use programs, many of us have no idea how they work. Tim will be talking about the absolute basics of computer programming, without any actual code (using plain English descriptions instead). Tim first taught himself 30 years ago on a ZX81; the fundamentals haven’t really changed and he will explain:

Loops and routines – breaking down a process into its component modules, so you can repeat sections and jump around between them. The overall structure of a program.
Variables etc. – putting a name on a chunk of data so you can do things with it.
Functions – doing things with and to the data.
Conditionals – checking whether something has happened, and responding accordingly.
Input & Output – how the computer interacts with the outside world.

A few words about you and your passion:

I taught myself Sinclair Basic as a 13-year-old, as the only way to play games back then was to laboriously type them into a computer from magazines. I had to start all over again as soon as I switched it off, until I got a tape recorder a couple of years later. I learned how the code worked by experimenting with changing things.
I’m fascinated with language, and have thrown a lot of time, money, effort and risk into the my business, which is based on my PhD research. Please try out our advanced word prediction app, Flexpansion, which will help you type much faster on Android devices and is FREE! And please give us a nice review!!
Other fun stuff I like doing – kayaking, climbing, snowsports (but I hardly ever have time nowadays 🙁 and spending time with my family.

A few lines about the history of your subject:

According to Wikipedia 🙂
Charles Babbage adopted the use of punched cards, which were used to ‘program’ weaving looms, around 1830 to control his Analytical Engine. The first computer program was written for the Analytical Engine by mathematician Ada Lovelace to calculate a sequence of Bernoulli numbers.