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Jonathan E. Sisk's
Pick/BASIC: A Programmer's Guide


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The popularity of the Pick Operating System has continued to grow over the years. Recent estimates put the installed Pick base at roughly 70,000 systems, ranging in size from desktop systems, like the IBM XT and AT, all the way up to mainframe-class systems such as the IBM 4300 and 9370, with dozens of micro and super-micro systems in between.

For many years, most people who had machines that ran Pick didn't know that it was Pick they were using. Pick went under "brand" names, like Ultimate and REALITY. Today the system is no longer being sold in plain brown wrappers.

My experience has been that most of the Pick-based systems in use today are managed by people who do not have a lot of experience with other operating systems. In many ways this is an advantage the single largest one of which is that they do not have to be "retrained" into the Pick way of doing things.

Most companies do not have a "professional" in-house staff to do programming and analysis work, and thus have to do it themselves -- unless, of course, they rely on outside consultants or software vendors to perform technosurgery on their software. This book is for those of you who want to learn how to do it yourselves. It's also aimed at those who don't want to do it themselves, but want to be able to talk intelligently to those who do.

This book was developed from the course materials for my programming sessions in "The Pick System Educational Series." Naturally, every little nuance about PICK/BASIC can't be covered in one book, but this book is intended to provide a broad introductory overview about the powerful PICK/BASIC language.

The method by which this book attempts to explain PICK/BASIC is through step-by-step tutorials. In the first chapter, the basics of logging onto the system and creating your account are provided, along with a very cursory overview of the Pick Editor. From there, basic programming principles and terminology are discussed in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 takes the reader into the exciting world of programming in PICK/BASIC by providing a ready-made program which will be entered into the system, compiled, then run. A detailed explanation of each instruction and principle follows immediately after the source listing.

The objective is to cover the instructions used most often in the language, in a practical, objective, and logical order. The rest of the book follows this tutorial format, with each program building upon principles introduced in preceding examples while introducing new topics along the way.

As the first tutorial on the PICK/BASIC language, this book may serve as the pioneer by which future similar attempts are measured. Pioneers, especially in the data processing community, are easily identified: they are the ones with the arrows sticking out of their backs. I hope this book will provide the reader with a broad enough introduction to be able to understand the principles and mechanics of the PICK/BASIC language. Maybe it will even provide the courage necessary to start writing code from scratch. But more important, it is intended to encourage its readers to get out there and discover, ponder, and even maintain the existing code on their machines.

I welcome all comments and suggestions.

Jonathan E. Sisk

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Jonathan E. Sisk's "Pick/BASIC: A Programmer's Guide" by Jonathan E. Sisk is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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