A few months ago I was watching YouTube and the Micro Adventure book series was mentioned. I was fascinated. When I was a kid, I'd buy books at gas stations and stationery stores that taught computer terms. They also included BASIC programs, as did many of the publications in the 1980s. Did you know math books even had computer programs? Yep - you typed them in to have the computer do the stuff they taught in the chapter! That's no longer the case, unfortunately!
I figured the Micro Adventure books would be a great way to teach coding to kids and teens, and even adults. Using awesome-cool stories, coupled with a retro computer, you can learn to code in a fun way. I hope you like it!
Micro Adventure is the title of a series of books for young adult readers, published by Scholastic, Inc. during the 1980s.
The books are noted for the inclusion of short BASIC type-in programs related to the plot of the story that the reader could type into their computers, and also for the use of second-person narration (rather like the Choose Your Own Adventure series, though unlike those, Micro Adventure storylines could not be influenced by the decisions of the reader). The combination of these two elements made the Micro Adventure books something of an immersion experience.
Through the second-person narration, the reader took the part of Orion, a computer expert and agent for the Adventure Connection Team, and followed the action in the continuing struggle against ACT’s nemesis, BRUTE (Bureau of Random Unlawful Terror and Evil).
The plots generally resembled those typically found in other works of the secret agent/adventure genre, ranging from sabotage aboard a space station to android doubles of the President of the United States, but stand out for their clever twists and lack of "dumbing down" often found in similar juvenile literature.
The programs themselves were actually quite impressive, some even being simple “shoot-em-up” games, yet were all designed to be small (none were over 2K in file size, a must given the limitations of some personal computers available at the time, such as the TI-99/4A) and easily typed in by even the most novice programmer. Instructions were included on how to "tweak" the programs to make them run on almost any popular home computer of the time.
As a bonus, an appendix to each book gave step-by-step analyses of each of the programs in that particular book as a method of teaching simple programming theory and construction.
The original authors of the series, Eileen Buckholtz and Ruth Glick, went on to fascinating careers.
Eileen Buckholtz is a Master Computer Scientist, multi-published Maryland author, President of Technology Concepts, Inc. (a web design business), and professor at the University of Phoenix Online teaching IT courses. Eileen was drawn to computing at first byte when she took her initial computer course at Ohio State University, later graduating with one of the first undergraduate degrees in Computer and Information Science in the country. She earned her MS degree in Computer Science at the University of Maryland and her CIO certificate from the National Defense University. For over thirty years, she had an exciting and distinguished career as a Master Computer Scientist with the Department of Defense, working on cutting-edge technology.
As an author, Eileen has created or co-authored over fifty books for adults, young adults, and children. Her MicroAdventure series (with Ruth Glick) combined her computer expertise and her love of storytelling with fast-paced adventure and humor. They also had a great team including Parachute Press, talented writers, programmers, and testers on the MA project. MicroAdventures, Magic Micro Series (with Glick) and A B P C, and the Kids Computer IQ Book (with Settel) helped kids of all ages learn to program and have fun with early PCs. She has been delighted to hear from fans who were inspired by MicroAdventures to pursued computer science careers. Additionally, she has published dozens of romantic suspense novels including the popular 43 Light Street series for adults and the bestselling YA series Charisma, Inc. (both with Glick).
In 2000, she was selected as one of the top women in technology in the U. S. by Women in Technology International (witi.org) and was also recognized as one of Maryland’s Outstanding Women in Math and Science. Since 1994, Eileen and her son Ryan have maintained the top-ranked Teendriving.com website as a community service to help teens and new drivers avoid accidents and be safer drivers. She is an advocate for children, teens, and women on the web and has promoted STEM programs. She lives in Maryland with her husband and Westie pup, Lacey.
A New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Ruth Glick has enjoyed a wide-ranging career, with more than 150 published novels, novellas and cookbooks. Her Invasion of the Blue Lights, juvenile science fiction, was published by Scholastic in 1983 and has been optioned for a major motion picture. It was a springboard for her early career in YA and juvenile fiction. In the late 80's, she and Eileen Buckholtz collaborated on The Microadventure series and Magic Micros which introduced computer programing in the context of a fun adventure series. Their Charisma, Inc, a young adult romantic suspense series, was set in a teen modeling agency where everybody had a dual role as a spy. She is best known for her paranormal romantic suspense, written under the pen name Rebecca York for Harlequin, Berkley, Tor, Carina, and Kensington. (The first 14 Rebecca York books were written with Eileen Buckholtz.) As Rebecca York, she has also written romance and romantic suspense for Harlequin and Sourcebooks. Currently she focuses on two indie series—Decorah Security, where the agents have paranormal powers, and the Off World series, set on planets in the far future.
Her romance and romantic suspense books have garnered many awards including three RT Book Reviews Lifetime Achievement Awards, three RT Best Harlequin Intrigues, A Prism Award, and five New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Awards. Her Nowhere Man was named best book of the year by Affaire de Coeur. She has also been honored with the Romance Writers of America Centennial Award. While writing fiction, she maintained a career in cookbooks, most designed for special diets. Her Diabetes Snack, Munch, Nibble, Nosh Book was a best-seller for the American Diabetes Association. And her 100% Pleasure, written with Nancy Baggett, was named one of the best cookbooks of the year by USA Today. Her latest cookbook is The 2 Day a Week Diet Cookbook, also written with Baggett.
A very special thank you to Jane Stine at Parachute Properties for the permission to use these books!
Additional Thanks to Daishaun for scanning books and cleaning scans, and Tin for getting the emulator working better.
This is a labor of love. I want people to learn to code. Blanket ad services are bad, and kids don't need to watch ads while they enjoy learning. So, I'm willing to cover costs to keep this ad-free.
I do have analytics for site traffic and sharing. I don't collect any personal information - it's just the typical anonymous "how busy was the website yesterday?" kind of information.
I'm working pretty hard at moving the books into HTML. To be notified of new books - there were more than 10 of them in the series - fill out the contact form. Remember, these were written in the 1980s. The books were provided as typewritten sheets of paper. Few authors had a laptop back then, and the Internet wasn't available to the masses. People had to use an advanced network, named SneakerNet, to get to MailboxNet, which then used people dressed in blue to get messages back and forth. It was quite chaotic. Sometimes messages didn't even arrive!
If you'd like to be notified when new books are available, fill out the Contact form and let me know. I plan on releasing them as soon as possible.
Absolutely! Hit up the contact form and let me know.
I plan on having additional programming languages in the future. I could use some help there, so inquire within.
The content on this site, other than the text and imagery from the original Micro Adventure Book Series, is all © 2017 Auri's Ideas LLC. All rights reserved.
The Micro Adventure logo used on this site, and this site design, is a trademark of Auri's Ideas LLC.
Text of the original Micro Adventure and Magic Adventure books is Copyright © Eileen Buckholtz, Ruth Glick, and Parachute Properties