1990: Programming languages

In 1990, I drew thirteen cartoons for the computing industry press. They were never published, so here they are from the Beholder archive. They have no particular artistic merit, but they’re mildly interesting from a nostalgically geeky point of view.


I actually taught COBOL with Pete at Royal Holloway’s Computer Science department for a couple of years around the time these cartoons were drawn. As a student, I wrote a (fictional) motorcycle despatch firm’s job control system in COBOL as the project for the course I would later teach. I seem to remember quite enjoying it; a well-behaved programming language. The feeble “Nancy Cobol” joke is really a reference to the American National Standard [Institute] (ANS) COBOL which was widely known at the time.

I named these verbose cartoons “the Need To Know Guide to Programming Languages”. Note that this was nothing to do with Danny O’Brien & Dave Green’s Need to Know (NTK) newsletter, which did not come along for another seven years (and to which I enthusiastically subscribed).

You’re free to use the illustration for anything provided you attribute Beholder as the source (a CC BY 4.0 license).

See more vintage Beholder nostalgia.