Ancient Code

by vivin

I am a pack rat. I keep anything and everything in the vague hope that I might need it someday. It doesn’t help when something like that does happen, and I DO need something. Then I feel vindicated and it only serves to re-enforce the behaviour. But anyway, I have these computer disks that are more than 11 years old. They are from 1994. They contain a bunch of GW-BASIC programs that I wrote. The disks are pretty damn old, and almost falling to pieces. I last used one (the one with all my code) about two years ago and did a directory listing. The only thing that did was screw it up even more. It’s now impossible to access the disk. But anyway, that’s on stupid Windows systems. I knew that I could still access data if I really wanted to – raw data. I put the disk into my FreeBSD machine and ran a dd command, while ignoring errors. It took a long time, but finally it dumped all my data out to a file. I then ran a strings command on it to get text. It was like a time-capsule. I saw all this code that I had writted more than a decade ago. I had been programming for at least two or three years then, but 1994 was when I wrote the most code, I think. I went out of my way to make the output messages from my program sound professional. But well, actually it all sounded kinda funny. However, if I hadn’t done any of that, I wouldn’t be where I am right now and I wouldn’t be doing what I do now. This was where it all started… where I became a programmer. Anyway, here are some snippets, along with my comments:


I wanted to write a shoot ’em up game (I eventually did later). But I didn’t know the basics of collision detection, or making objects move around the screen (animation). So I was going to go text based. I was also going to make it something like a Math game or something… and call it Mathvaders… see, they invade and they make you do math, so Mathvaders. Yes. I was a smart kid. On the other hand, I have no idea why a sentient alien race would travel lightyears to Planet Earth and make you do Math. But anyway, here goes. First you have the title screen message:

Copyright (C) Vivin Corporations 1995
All rights reserved

Yes, the awesome Vivin Corporations! Over the coming years, Vivin Corporations would produce even more awesome programs such as the one that emits high pitched siren wails from the computer speakers, or the one that would draw random shapes on the screen! Now I wonder what’s next…

Hello! and Welcome to Mathvaders(TM). I hope you enjoy this game. This is a
game made for children to enjoy mathematics. Adults can also play this game to
sharpen their mathematical skills.
To copy Mathvaders(TM) to your hard disk, just type COPYA if the backup di-
sk is in the A drive or COPYB if the backup disk is in the B drive, at the DOS-
prompt. To start the game, type MV at the DOS prompt. But remember… THIS GA-
Keep the main disk in a
safe place so that you can copy the game again if the files are deleted accid-
Older computers may take time in displaying certain graphics. But don’t w-
orry. That won’t spoil the fun of the game!!

The English sounds a little bit stilted. That’s because it’s Indian English. Also, the hyphens are at odd places because I was trying to fit the words on the screen. But I didn’t understand the rules of hyphenation whereby you are only supposed to split words between syllables.