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Tell the Computer What to Do

We start with a game. Click on the arrow buttons and make the nibbler walk around the maze eating pills. Then read more about why that is like programming a computer below...

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Computers are a little like people, they can read and write and draw pictures, and with a lot more effort, see things and speak and listen and walk around (computers that do those harder things we call robots). Unlike people, computers can do these things -- even the simple stuff -- only after somebody told them exactly how to do it. People, especially you here reading this, are way smarter than any computer. You can tell the computer how to do what it does. It takes some effort and some special skills, but we think it's a lot of fun and we think you can do it. Starting today. If you want to.

We started with a game because this game is a fun way to tell the computer what to do. It is something like one of the early computer games from before everybody had their own computers, perhaps you have seen it. You tell the computer where the yellow nibbler should go, and it eats the little pills along the way and gets points for each pill it eats. Already when you play the game, you are telling the computer what to do. You can use the "Reset" button to put the game back to its original configuration.

Click here to continue...

I put "Help" links at the top and bottom of each page to explain everything in more detail. The one at the top left of this page is supposed to popup a separate (smaller) window but your browser may do something strange (or nothing at all); however the "Help" links at the top right and here at the bottom are just plain links. When you need help, you should try to click a "Help" link on the page where you had the problem (or later), because the Game Help pages are adjusted to where you are in the tutorial.

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