Introduction to Programming

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Lesson 1: An Introduction to Programs

Lesson Requirements

Lesson Summary
This first Lesson is aimed at introducing the complete novice to programming. Absolutely no prior knowledge is required. If you are a moderate or experienced programmer you might want to jump ahead to Lesson 2.

Programs. What Are They?
To begin we will consider some very basic but important questions:

1. What is a Program?
2. How do I make Programs?
2. What is "Programming"?
4. What is a Programming Language?

Now let's answer these questions:

1. A Program is a series of instructions describing the process to complete an action. Let's consider an example, how do we make a cup of coffee? We are going to write out a Program to do this:

Making Coffee:

a. Boil some water
b. Get an empty mug
c. Place a spoonful of coffee in the mug
d. When the water has boiled, fill the mug with the water
e. If we want milk, add milk to taste
f. If we want sugar, add sugar to taste

Well, nothing Earth-shattering here. But the point is that a Program is nothing more than a set of instructions. A computer program is just like the above recipe to make coffee.

2. You can make a Program in English -- just like the how to make coffee Program above. You make a Computer Program by writing the instructions in a Language that the computer can understand. These languages are referred to as Programming Languages.

3. Programming is a term used to describe writing Computer Programs. "Coding" and "Writing code" are other such terms.

4. Programming Languages are the instruction sets we use to describe our "recipe" (or Program) to the computer. Some common Programming Languages are BASIC, Pascal, and C. Programming Languages are discussed in more detail in Lesson 3.

Hopefully the task of programming seems a little less daunting now!


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Copyright 1997, John Crickett & Neil Henderson.
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