10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10
A single line of code offers a way to understand the cultural context of computing.
This book takes a single line of code—the extremely concise BASIC program for the Commodore 64 inscribed in the title—and uses it as a lens through which to consider the phenomenon of creative computing and the way computer programs exist in culture. The authors of this collaboratively written book treat code not as merely functional but as a text—in the case of 10 PRINT, a text that appeared in many different printed sources—that yields a story about its making, its purpose, its assumptions, and more. They consider randomness and regularity in computing and art, the maze in culture, the popular BASIC programming language, and the highly influential Commodore 64 computer.
10 PRINT CHR$ (205.5 + RND (1)); : GOTO 10, a new book collaboratively written by 10 authors, takes a single line of code—inscribed in the book's mouthful of a title—and explodes it. That one line, a seemingly clumsy scrap of BASIC, generates a fascinatingly complicated maze on a Commodore 64.... Though 10 PRINT CHR$ (205.5 + RND (1)); : GOTO 10 is occasionally whiplash-inducing in its headlong rush through history, the connections it makes over 294 pages are inspired. One of the most compelling sections of the book discusses the cultural history of mazes, relating 10 PRINT's maze back to the labyrinth of Knossos, where, according to the great Greek myth, Theseus waged battle with the terrifying Minotaur.
Geeta Dayal, Slate
10 Print is a creative adventure in reading source code as a technical object and cultural icon, as well as a window onto the ways in which technical and artistic practices mingle. Wildly imaginative and boldly collaborative, it sets a high bar for the emerging field of critical code studies. It celebrates the 'Maker' philosophy and the DIY spirit of home computing at its best. A romp, a scholarly exposition, and an experiment in writing in a collaborative authorial voice, it is a delight not to be missed.
N. Katherine Hayles, author of How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis; Professor of Literature, Duke University
To see the world in a grain of sand—or a slice of silicon—has always been the great hermeneutical project. Here we find that project disassembled and recompiled by Nick Montfort and his collaborators, who focus their diverse training and intellects on a single eponymous line of vintage computer code. The result, 10 PRINT, is an executable that is also an open source for a powerful new mode of collective and cooperative scholarship.
Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, University of Maryland; author of Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination
Well before the Web browser and even the desktop metaphor came to be, there was the blinking cursor of the command line. It sat in silence, submissively waiting for the incantations of the programmer. Until the C64–a VW Beetle equivalent in its affordability, reliability, and simplicity–only a precious few had access to the command line and the order and chaos it could produce. Through an investigation of one line of code, this book reveals what happened when the C64 opened coding up to 'test driving' hobbyists and began to reveal itself as a platform for true creativity.
John Maeda, President, Rhode Island School of Design
This microscopically close reading of a one-line BASIC program opens to reveal, fractal-like, the breadth and depth of critical code studies. Taking what the authors refer to as a 'variorum approach' allows 10 PRINT to explore not just the multiple forms in which this line of code circulated, but the rich array of its cultural resonances and technological offspring. Blending ten scholarly voices in one coherent, collaborative text, 10 PRINT itself produces a new kind of code, a working system that points the way to one viable future for scholarship.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Director of Scholarly Communication, Modern Language Association