This month Peter Phillips gets to grips with HiSoft Power 
BASIC in the first of his tutorial series on BASIC.
                       FirST STeps in BASIC 
     Before you begin to program any computer, it is important to 
grasp one fact. THE COMPUTER DOES NOT THINK. No matter how 
intelligent your ST may seem at times, it is not an intelligent 
system in the same way humans are intelligent. It cannot reach 
logical conclusions about anything without being given a precise 
series of instructions. The ST may give the impression of thinking 
on it's own, but all its really doing is following a series of 
instruction - a program.
     In order for a computer to be able to do anything, no matter 
how simple it may appear to us, the task must be broken down into 
a series of precise steps for the computer to follow. Try making a 
list of all the steps you would expect to follow when you go to 
make a cup of tea. You list should look something like this:
     1.   Fill Kettle
     2.   Boil Kettle
     3.   Put Teabag In Pot
     4.   Pour On Boiling Water
     5.   Pour Milk Into Cup
     6.   Pour The Tea
     These six steps are simple enough for a child of a bout six 
to follow and make a cup of tea. These instructions only appear 
simple to us because we have learned some basic knowledge of the 
world around us a s we've been growing up. A computer has no 
knowledge at all, so every single step in the tea making process 
must be set out, like this:
     1.   Grasp Kettle By Handle
     2.   Take Kettle To Sink
     3.   Grasp And Remove Lid
     4.   Place Kettle Under Cold Tap
     5.   Turn On Cold Tap
     6.   Wait Until Kettle Is Full
     7.   Turn Off Cold Tap
     8.   Replace Lid
     ... and so it would go on, each step carefully laid out. Even 
these steps above can be broken down still further in terms of 
precise distances and angles of movement, amount of pressure and
volume of water.
                        Before you Start... 
     Assuming you haven't already done so, make a copy of which 
ever BASIC you intend to use to follow this series. If you're 
using the version of PowerBASIC included on the CoverDisk then 
copy all the files to a blank disk and de-archive them. This will 
give you room to store some of the tutorial files on the same 
     If you're using another BASIC such as GFA then set up a new 
work disk to hold the files from the tutorial series. This will 
help to keep them separate from any other work or example files 
you may have.
     Reboot your ST and load up your chosen BASIC. It doesn't 
matter which sort of BASIC you're using since the examples in this 
Tutorial have been designed to work with most of the common 
programs. However, they are intended to work with the HiSoft BASIC 
dialects, specifically: 
     * FirST BASIC  - bundled with may of the newer ST packs such 
       as the Turbo Pack and the Discovery Pack.
     * PowerBASIC   - a demo version of this program is included on 
       the CoverDisk with this issue of ST User.
     * HiSoft Basic - the full version of HiSoft's implementation 
       of the BASIC language.
     * ST BASIC     - all HiSoft BASIC's are downwardly compatible 
       with the original ST BASIC supplied on the Language disks 
       of older machines.
     In all the following examples, all the text in bold are BASIC 
statements and should be typed exactly as they appear. Remember to 
press 'Return' at the end of each line so BASIC will act on the 
instruction. If you make a mistake, don't worry about it, just try 
     In Directmode, type the following, and see what the ST does 
in response. 
      PRINT "Hello World!" 
     What you have just done is to issue a direct command to the 
computer. The PRINT statement is a BASIC 'keyword' or a word that 
instructs BASIC to perform a particular action. PRINT tells the 
machine to print what every follows to the screen. Now try:
     PRINT "The ST"
     PRINT "is the best computer available"
      You'll see that the sentence has been split over two lines, 
in exactly the same way as it was typed with the keywords. This 
happens because when BASIC reaches the closing quote as any PRINT 
statement, it automatically goes to the start of the next line. If 
you want it to continue on the same line, you have to add a semi-
colon (;) after the end quotes, like this:
     PRINT "The ST ";
     PRINT "is the best computer available"
     Note that an extra space has been added at the end of the 
first line. This is because BASIC will print exactly what it finds 
so if the space wasn't there, BASIC wouldn't put a space between 
the words 'ST' and 'is'. Try the line again but without the extra 
space, just to see what happens.


(C) Marko, Suomen Atari-sivut / ArkiSTo 2003