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 learned FORTRAN on VAX/VMS in my Computer Science days, but never used it professionally. One of the memorable things about FORTRAN 77 was that it uses a set of implicit rules to determine the type of a variable, depending on what letter its name begins with (I through to N would be integer). The open reels of half-inch magnetic tape in the illustration are drawn from experience though, because we sometimes used them to transfer incident databases at work. Also, the mention of Apple Mac here is borne from first-hand experience because I sometimes used a friend’s Mac to caption some Beholder cartoons as early as the late 1980s.

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.