Small Basic Interview - Philip Conrod (Visual Basic, Assembler, Pascal, Fortran, COBOL, Java, Visual C#, & Small Basic)

Today I am interviewing Philip Conrod.

Philip has co-authored, edited, and published several Microsoft Small Basic programming books and tutorials with his friend and colleague, Lou Tylee.

Some of these books include the following Small Basic Best Sellers:


Let's get started!

Who are you, where are you, and what do you do? What programming languages do you use?

My name is Philip Conrod and I live in Maple Valley, Washington USA.  I serve as the Publisher & President of Kidware Software LLC and I also serve as the Chief Information Officer for a large manufacturing company is Seattle, Washington.  Over the years  I have co-authored, edited and/or published numerous computer programming tutorials and books for kids, teens and adults.   My co-author, Lou Tylee, is actually the creative force behind most of the Kidware Software programming tutorials.  Lou taught Microsoft Visual Basic at the University of Washington for over 15 years and he really knows how to teach programming in a fun and friendly way.  Lou started programming in 1969.

I have personally written applications in BASIC, Assembler, Pascal, C, Fortran, COBOL, RPG, JCL, Java, Visual Basic, Visual C# and most recently Small Basic.

Tell us about your history with Small Basic. How did you learn about it? What has your experience been?

I accidentally ran into Small Basic when Vijaye Raji was showing it off in  Microsoft DevLabs back in late 2009 and early 2010.  Small Basic  caught my attention as it reminded me how fun Microsoft Basic was to learn when I was kid back  in the late 1970s.  I started out on the Commodore PET, Apple II, and the TRS-80 line of microcomputers.  I fell in love with computer programming at a very young age and BASIC was actually my first love.  Don't tell my first girlfriend that!

After developing programs in  Small Basic for several weeks, I contacted Vijaye Raji  and told him that Lou and I were writing several Microsoft Small Basic programming tutorials.  I asked Vijaye if he would be willing to review the tutorials to make sure we didn't miss anything important in Small Basic.  Vijaye graciously agreed to this and we ended up publishing half a dozen books for Microsoft Small Basic.  During that process, Microsoft Press also gave us special permission to re-publish one of their classic David Ahl BASIC programming books, using Small Basic, so a whole new generation of Small Basic developers could enjoy it.  Microsoft also licensed some of our Small Basic material for the Microsoft Small Basic 1.0 MSDN website launch.  It has definitely been a lot of fun working with all the different Microsoft employees and the different teams that support Small Basic  inside the Microsoft Corporation.

By the way, you can check out most of these Microsoft Small Basic programming books and tutorials on our website.

What are your Small Basic projects right now? What else are you working on?

We are about to publish "Small Basic For Kids" in a paperback textbook format.  It is targeted to elementry students (8 years and up) and middle-school students. It  is based on a original best-selling BASIC programming books for kids by Edward H. Carlson.

Kidware Software also  publishes beginning programming titles for other Microsoft Integrated Development Environments like Visual Basic Express and Visual C# Express.    When you click on the "graduate" button within Small Basic to convert your programs to Microsoft Visual Basic, you may want to check out our beginning programming tutorials for Visual Basic or even Visual C#.


What is Small Basic for? Who is it for?

I think it is great tool for teaching programming to kids, teens and even beginning adults.   It is simple enough for kids to understand and powerful enough for beginning adult programmers to have a lot of fun.  It is a great way to introduce programming to beginning students.

What can people do to help get Small Basic into educational systems?

I personally volunteer and teach programming to students at local middle school and high schools around the Seattle area. I also talk to students about why they may want to pursue a lucrative career in computer programming.

I personally like to use Microsoft Small Basic to show the students how easy it is to develop their very own game in just one class period.  Kids and teens love to play video games so why not use the power and simplicity of Small Basic to teach them how to write their very own video games.  Kids and teens get immediate gratification within  20 minutes of working with Small Basic.  I love seeing that "aha" moment when a student gets their Small Basic Turtle to zip around the computer screen for the very first time.

I should note that many of our Small Basic Programming Tutorials are self-study and a lot of teachers around the the world who use our programming books for teaching programming for the first time are only a couple of chapters ahead of their students when they are teaching their first programming class.  Small Basic is just that easy to learn and teach.


By the way Ed, thanks for helping facilitate the Microsoft Small Basic forums (in addition to your day job).    You are a welcome addition the the Small Basic community of developers, teachers, and programming enthusiasts!


You're welcome Phil! And thank you for this interview and for helping us get Small Basic out to the world of future game and software developers!

- Tall Basic Ed