Educational publishing house Usborne has released its entire collection of classic kids' computing books from the 1980s in electronic format, as a means of advertising its two latest equivalents.
Launched in the golden era of home computing, Usborne's collection of books attempted to introduce the concept of computing into the classroom and the home in an accessible manner. As well as the more predictable titles, such as a guide to programming in the language du jour BASIC and type-in listings of various simple games, the company taught some surprisingly advanced concepts including machine code. For kids growing up in the 80s, these books were the catalyst for a career in computing - thanks in no small part to accessible writing and colourful, cartoon-like hand-drawn illustrations.
Now, approaching four decades on, Usborne has given the titles a second lease of life by releasing the lot in PDF format. Titles released comprise Computer Fun and Simple Basic, aimed at younger readers, Programming Tricks & Skills, Machine Code for Beginners, Computer Programming, Practical Things to do with a Microcomputer, and the type-in listing books Computer Spy Games, Computer Battlegames, Computer Spacegames, Weird Computer Games, Creepy Computer Games, The Mystery of Silver Mountain, Island of Secrets, Write Your Own Fantasy Games, and Write Your Own Adventure Programs.
The reason behind Usborne's largesse: the download page includes links to purchase the books' spiritual successors, Lift-The-Flap Computers and Coding and Coding for Beginners Using Scratch, both designed to support the fresh computing curriculum at Key Stage 1. Despite this, the older books are available to download for free without a purchase and are free from digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.
Interested - and nostalgic - parties can download the titles from Usborne's electronic catalogue