Usborne’s range of 1980s children’s coding books released as free PDFs

Publishing giant Usborne has been in the computer book business for many, many decades, and its productions have been an entry point into the industry for countless coders. As with anything in a tech-driven industry, these books are a big part of their time, but the whole aesthetic of these things is catnip nostalgia for those of a certain age. If you’re the type to sit down in front of a Spectrum and spend half a day painstakingly copying code, then the garish thrill of artwork for Computer Spacegames never fades.

There is a wide range, available for free on its website. He rather charmingly advises that “these programs don’t work on modern computers” although the books cover more than coding, and of course if you have a BBC Micro or Commodore 64 in the attic then this is the rock and roll time.

The books are obviously no longer in print, so fair play to the publisher to keep them available and free. Usborne is of course keeping up with the times and, if you want to sow nostalgia in the next generation, has a contemporary range of books to teach kids some coding skills.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years of experience. He started his career at Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon and Vice. He was editor of Kotaku UK, the British branch of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of A Brief History of Video Games, a Comprehensive History of the Medium, which the Midwest Book Review describes as “[a] Must-read for serious gaming historians and curious video game connoisseurs.”