We all seem to be assuming that kids don't program these days, unlike
the halcyon days of yore when computers had 8 bits, we made our own fun
and used the power of our imagination, we didn't have remote controls,
and there was this thing called discipline.
Are we really sure about this?
(Julz, how do you know that 80s computers were '10-20x more effective at
getting kids to code' ?)
I mean, it seems to me thinking back on it that in my experience it was
uncommon for kids to program in any way whatsoever, and very rare for
them to get beyond simple BASIC or LOGO programs. I never really got
beyond very rudimentary programs, and I'm fairly certain there was
no-one in my year at school who did much more than that, and moderately
sure there was no-one in the years either side of me. Later on I met
people my age who had gotten into programming in a big way as kids or
teenagers, so sure they existed, but I'd put the number at well shy of
(I see your ancedotes, and i raise you mine)
Maybe rather than something being wrong with either computers or kids
these days, it's just the case that programming is something that
doesn't really interest most kids, never has, probably never will, and
people with the inclination to be real hackers are pretty rare, and,
unsprisingly, well over-represented in this newsgroup.
That's not to say I don't think it couldn't be presented in a way that
would make it more approachable or fun for kids, or whatever, but I
don't think it was really all that approachable or fun (for most kids)
back in the day. Those that did anything beyond the rudimentary were
those few that found it innately interesting and natural.
The one thing I think maybe made it more attractive to program back then
was the fact that the games and even applications available to you were
not actually all that sophisticated, so it was easier to see yourself as
footing it with commercial programs.