As a child, I used to play with a program on my ADAM computer called SmartLOGO. I would draw things with it, make animations, and sometimes songs. This was my favorite piece of software for the ADAM. I would look at the things it could do and think, “Wow, what will computer graphics be like in the future?” Unbeknownst to me, at the time, computer programmers were already doing mind-blowing stuff in terms of computer art, graphics, and animation. This post is not about that. It’s about SmartLOGO.
SmartLOGO was made by Logo Computer Systems Inc. in 1984. They are still around! They make educational software. Logo is an educational programming language that produces computer graphics. Coleco’s SmartLOGO software came on a digital data pack and with a fantastic manual. The author of the manual, Seymour Papert, was on the team that created the first version of logo in 1967.
The core of any LOGO program is the turtle. Call it a turtle, call it a cursor, it is basically your pen on screen. You can command the turtle to draw a straight line a certain length by using a command like “Forward 50”. You can draw a square by telling it to repeat a command like so: “Repeat 4 [Forward 30 Right 90]”. You can create a procedure to make a square with a few more commands: “To Square Repeat 4 [FD 30 RT 90] End”. Then anytime you want to make a square, you simply type “Square” and press return. In most LOGO programs, the turtle is a shape like an triangle, but in SmartLOGO, it is literally shaped like a turtle. However, you can assign your own image if you like. SmartLOGO gives you the option of creating your own turtle or sprite.
In time, the user will learn how to make complex images, animations, how to use sprites, and even how to create music. Coleco’s SmartLOGO came with a tutorial. I recorded the whole thing using actual hardware, not an emulator. Here is part one & two.
I also spent more than an hour creating what turns out to be a 3 second program using SmartLOGO. Enjoy =)
* Like to thank the RETROIST for help with this post.