Volume 4, Number 3 - Spring 1996
© Logo Foundation
You may copy and distribute this document for educational purposes provided
that you do not charge for such copies and that this copyright notice is
reproduced in full.
These are the major articles that appeared in Logo Update, Volume 4,
Number 3- Spring 1996. Minor changes have been made to update information
such as addresses. Conference announcements and other items of transient
interest that appeared in the original newsletter have not been included
In this issue:
Logo Down Under by Jeff Richardson
Logo: An Excuse to Learn by Andrea Anfossi
More About Logo and Hypermedia
Memories of Logo
Logo Down Under
by Jeff Richardson
The history of Logo in Australia begins in 1974. Scott
Brownell, a teacher from the island state of Tasmania brought a magnetic
tape copy of Logo from MIT to Hobart, to run on a PDP-11 at the Tasmanian
Education Department's computer center. He then recruited another
Tasmanian teacher, Sandra Wills, and secured a rare and expensive robot
turtle from The General Turtle Co. The ensuing project saw every school in
Tasmania connected, with a teletype terminal, to the PDP-11. Sandra would
load the turtle into the boot of her car and travel all over the island,
moving from school to school. At each school children would hook up the
turtle to their terminal and use their remote Logo to control it. It's
quite astonishing to think that some of these children are now in their
This work led to two technical breakthroughs in global Logo history.
With the arrival of the Apple, personal computers came to rule the earth
and distributed computing went into hiding for 15 years. Richard Miller,
of the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, wrote the first
version of Logo to run on the Apple, specifically to drive the robot
turtles in the Tasmanian project. In addition to collaborating with
Richard, Sandra Wills had overseen the engineering of a small and
relatively inexpensive floor turtle, the Tassie Turtle. The Tassie Turtle
achieved a degree of accuracy and precision that had eluded similar
research and development efforts in Edinburgh and elsewhere. And it could
be run from a 5.25" floppy disk on an Apple.
The Tassie Turtle and friends
Once Terrapin and LCSI Apple Logos became commercially available, Tony
Adams of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne,
Victoria, was quick to provide low level code procedures to enable both
these versions of Logo to control the Tassie Turtle. When Seymour Papert
visited Australia to speak at the Victorian Computer Education Conference
in Melbourne in 1981 he was moved to tears when he found himself in a room
surrounded by a swarm of buzzing, beeping robot turtles.
Seymour's visit built on the pioneering work of the Tasmanians to
inspire a generation of Australian Logoists. Logo veterans still remember
Seymour's dazzling demos using TI Sprite Logo, a version capable of
degrees of parallelism and playfulness only recently reached once more in
MicroWorlds and StarLogo.
The propagation of Logo in Australia was next boosted by the publication
of two important and influential Logo books in 1983: Learning Logo, by
Tony Adams, Anne MacDougall, and Pauline Adams; and Let's Talk Turtle by
Caroline Dowling and Liddy Nevile. These two books opened up a range of
activities and insights into the use of Logo, from the charming
zoomorphism of the turtle to sophisticated computer science ideas. Tony
Adams' implementation of Prolog (a very vogue language at the time) in
just five pages of Logo code rivals the inspiring projects in Brian
By 1984, Anne MacDougall of Monash University, Melbourne, was able to
convene a conference entitled "Logo in Australia: Ten Years On." This
event was attended by Logoists from all over the country. The diversity of
the people in attendance p; teachers, students, academics and parents p;
was matched by the panoply of Logo versions and platforms that were in use
at this time: Commodore 64, Atari, Tandy, BBC and TI contended with LCSI
and Terrapin's Apple versions. Logo had become widespread and its
enthusiasts had an energy and optimism that belied their limited
resources. Everyone was working with not many machines and not much time.
Although the educational establishment could not now ignore Logo, Logoists
were still very much a guerrilla element.
The next big leap forward for Logo in Australia did not come for another
five years. During this time LogoWriter and LEGO TC Logo were previewed,
then commercially released, to critical acclaim. Though successful, this
success was limited, not by any limitation in these products themselves.
On the contrary, they were too good. Here was the Logo idea so plainly
expressed p; an all encompassing curriculum, the now ubiquitous "pages"
years ahead of time p; that to really use these Logos was only possible
with an educational revolution. It was not forthcoming and it seemed that
Logo had reached a high water mark. Also during this time, Peter Carter of
the University of Adelaide, South Australia, kept the Logo community
nourished and entertained with his quarterly newsletter POALL and his
brilliant book Thinking Logo. Back issues of both are much sought after
even today and are still well worth hunting down.
In 1989 a curious and uniquely Australian development began which was to
be the strongest vector yet for the spread of Logo in Australia. Liddy
Nevile, in conjunction with RMIT and the Australian Council for
Educational Research began the Sunrise Project. The key element of this
project was laptop computers. In the pilot schools where it began,
Coombabah on the Gold Coast in South East Queensland and Methodist Ladies
College in Melbourne, entire cohorts of children between years 5 and 7
were given laptop computers, one per child. And each machine was loaded
only with LogoWriter. The entire curriculum was conducted and expressed by
the children as LogoWriter projects.
As anyone in the Logo community might guess, it couldn't not succeed.
The children did everything, geography, ancient history, biology, music
... in LogoWriter projects. The imagery of children with their personal
laptops captured the imagination of both lay people and educationists
nationwide. This popular success was almost inescapably technocentric. But
this factor had an interesting twist. Schools that wanted to emulate the
project (there have been scores and the number is still growing rapidly)
tended to swallow the thing whole. The laptops were the shiny baubles that
attracted the interest, but as nobody really knows what to do with
computers in education, LogoWriter, and now MicroWorlds, became the
default software for laptop initiatives all over the country.
This narrative is not complete without mentioning two of the strangest
and most challenging Logo books ever written: Turtle Confusion and Turtles
Speak Mathematics by Barry Newell, Director of the Mount Stromlo
Astronomical Observatory in Canberra. They evoke Lewis Carrol as they
present a Socratic dialogue with the Turtle. This Turtle leads the reader
through a series of puzzles and conundrums that show that even today, in
the shadows of StarLogo, MicroWorlds and LEGO Logo, there's still plenty
of life in the plain old turtle.
Jeff Richardson is a Lecturer
in the Faculty of Education at
tel: +61 3 902 6391
fax: +61 3 902 6361
Logo: An Excuse to Learn
by Andrea Anfossi
In November 1995 three elementary school students from Costa Rica
presented their work to the 800 people who attended the Seventh
International Logo Congress in Porto Alegre Brazil. These children are
part of the Programa Informática Educativa, a joint project of the
Ministry of Public Education and the Omar Dengo Foundation.
For the PIE, the students' active, creative, autonomous, and critical
participation has been the central focus and the reason for proposing
different learning alternatives to the traditional approaches. The
children are the "reason for being" of this program and they are the best
indicators of the quality of our work.
We now have evidence suggesting that the training process, aimed at
learning how to use the computer's potential in an intelligent way, has
begun to bear fruit.* Today, thousands of children and teachers have
developed cognitive potentials that have enabled them to make computers
"do" what their imagination and creativity leads them to build, as they
are immersed in the learning process of a new technological language.
In this learning process, all the participants are important. To be
consistent with the notion of educational change, the PIE is promoting the
participation of youngsters in settings in which there is an interaction
between different generations. We believe that teachers have a lot to
learn from children's experiences. For that reason, we must open spaces
for dialogue with the children on an equal basis. For many years the PIE
has organized national and regional Children's Logo Conferences in Costa
Rica, where students share their projects with other children and with
adults. Our participation in the Logo Congress in Brazil extends this
Two boys and a girl from three different public elementary schools faced
the challenge of sharing the fruits of a cooperative project between
advisors, teachers, and students with the people attending the Congress.
Kemly Jimenez, an advisor for the PIE, and I had the opportunity to
participate in this magical moment, which only a few years ago would have
For the first time, the PIE was presented to an international audience,
not through electronic printouts as evidence of our efforts in educational
computing, but directly by a small group of representatives of that new
school generation. From that experience, the children, Ana María, Carlos
Fernando, and Fidias Emilio have said:
The week that we participated in the Conference in Brazil, I was filled
with pride because we were representing practically all children from our
country. In my case, there are many schools of the country participating
in the project which I represented, the Electronic Magazine. My dream was
to present the work that all of us had done and to do so in the best
possible way. Participation in this Logo Conference in Brazil was really a
very special experience for all of us. The three of us who attended the
Conference had not known each other before. Soon a friendship started to
grow among us, which I think is going to last. Sharing, if only for a
week, was for us a long time to learn from one another and from all the
people with whom we talked in Brazil. About the project, I must tell you
that when we began, we did not know the tools which we were going to use
and they seemed very impressive to us. We did know Logo, but we did not
know email. We did not know how to use it. But then when we discovered how
to do it we saw that it was something very useful and which helped us a
lot. We saw that in spite of distance we could exchange ideas with others.
As I said during the Conference in Brazil, Logo is like the sea, not one
with fish, but with ideas, and we are ships that navigate in that sea.
Keep up working with Logo and email.
Ana María Durán, age 12
Republic of France School, Taras
For me it was a really unforgettable experience. Thanks to it I was able
to get to know many people and places. I was able to show the work of my
six classmates, although they were not able to be present. They told me:
We know you are going to represent us very well because you have been
chosen from among the seven of us and you will make known what we are all
able to do with our work.
Carlos Fernando Morales, age 10
Eugenio Corrales School, Paraíso
Something very inspiring for me about the Conference in Brazil was a
speech by Seymour Papert, who was talking about a transformation that must
be carried out in all schools. The teacher must not teach, but the teacher
must learn with the students. We should change and use Logo so that we
children learn how to learn. That is what I was thinking: "I wish all
schools in the country used Logo." We hope that that will be achieved,
with God's help. We met many people who also inspired me and I want to
send them letters, to communicate with them. I made a great friendship
even if only for a week, but we got to know each other and now I know many
people and many other countries. I wish to thank everybody for giving me
the privilege of being able to represent Costa Rica. I think we put our
country's name in a good standing at the Conference. We were among the few
children who attended, almost all of them were Brazilian. People
congratulated us and we made a good impression. I learned lots more, so
many things, but I will only tell you this much for now. Thank you very
Fidias Emilio Castro, age 11
12 of March School, Pérez Zeledón
Ana María Durán, Andrea Anfossi, Fidias Emilio Castro, and Carlos
Fernando Morales at the Seventh International Logo Congress in Porto
This learning process and experience lived by three Costa Rican children
at the International Logo Conference transcends the school and the
educational computing lab. We are finishing the 20th century with an
ambitious project, which proposes a renewed concept of what we mean by
learning and education in a small Central American country. From among the
many expressions verbalized by these children during that week outside of
Costa Rica, I chose one as the name this article. It is a reflection of
what many of us feel, after sharing the children's thoughts and ideas.
* Informes del Proceso de Evaluación Cualitativa del PIE MEP-FOD,
Fundación Omar Dengo, San José, Costa Rica, 1994-1995
Andrea Anfossi is the Director of the Programa Informática
Fundación Omar Dengo
San José, Costa Rica
tel: +506 257 6263
fax: +506 222 1654
More About Logo and Hypermedia
Brian Harvey comments on the articles about Logo and hypermedia that
appeared in the winter 1996 issue of Logo Update.
To the editor:
The debate between the MicroWorlds and the HyperLogo approaches to
combining Logo with multimedia may be less a matter of educational
philosophy and more one of inadequate technology. Like many other hotly
debated issues in user interface design, this one was correctly settled in
the Smalltalk system developed on the Alto computer by Alan Kay's research
group at Xerox in the 1970s, and then forgotten. The crucial point is that
virtually all of the Smalltalk system, including its user interface, was
written in Smalltalk itself, and available for inspection or modification
by the user.
There seem to be two points of contention. One is that in HyperStudio
many desired behaviors are provided as primitives, rather than programmed
in Logo using more basic primitives. So, for example, instead of using a
primitive FadeToBlack capability, Michael Tempel would like to
write a Logo procedure using SetColor and Color
primitives. Suppose these primitives represented colors as three-element
lists of red, green, and blue values; the Logo procedure might then be
repeat 40 [SetColor map [? * 0.9] Color]
SetColor [0 0 0]
(I am making this up because I'm not an expert in either MicroWorlds or
HyperLogo! In practice the program might be more complicated because the
window being faded would include more than one color, so the program would
have to ask each color separately to fade itself to black.)
The second point of contention is that in HyperStudio there is a menu of
actions, whereas in MicroWorlds an action is chosen by typing a Logo
Both of these differences become negligible if the entire system is
programmed in Logo. Imagine that the HyperStudio action menu is really a
menu of names of Logo procedures, and that each such procedure can easily
be inspected, perhaps by pushing some button while the mouse is on a menu
item. Imagine further that MicroWorlds is supplied with a library of
prewritten useful actions, such as FadeToBlack. The first point of
contention is then eliminated; users can think of these actions as
primitive, if one happens to fill the bill perfectly, or can modify them,
if the default action isn't quite what's needed.
As for the second point, imagine that (in both systems) the program that
displays the action choice window is itself written in Logo. Then
MicroWorlds will come with a ButtonActionChoiceWindow procedure
that provides a space for typing a Logo instruction, while HyperStudio
will come with one that provides a large menu of canned choices. But a
user of either product could modify this procedure to customize the
system's behavior. Once the user isn't stuck with the system designer's
choice, that choice isn't so important.
(I should add that I've chosen to describe the situation in Logo terms,
but by this choice I'm somewhat misrepresenting the Smalltalk approach.
Since Smalltalk is an object-oriented language, wherever I've used the
word "modify" a Smalltalk programmer would actually not change the
programs provided in the system, but would instead create a new variant
that inherits most of its behavior from the system version, but has new
procedures written for only those aspects of its behavior that the user
wants to change. As a result, both the official system version and the
user's modified version are available for anyone else to use.)
Why don't MicroWorlds and HyperStudio work like Smalltalk? Of course I
can't speak for their designers, but I know two things that stand in the
way of using the Smalltalk approach in software generally. First, the
language compiler technology has to be very good to allow utility
procedures written in Logo to be fast enough. Of all the current versions
of Logo, probably only Object Logo has a good enough compiler. Second,
corporate greed makes commercial software vendors reluctant to provide
users with human-readable and human-modifiable versions of their programs;
they want to keep their technology secret.
Department of Computer Science
University of California, Berkeley
Michael Tempel replies:
It's not that I want to write my own FadeToBlack procedure. I'm
happy to use someone else's as long as it's written in a language I can
understand so I can modify it if it isn't quite what I want. Having a
library of procedures is also a good thing because it provides a body of
Logo literature from which to learn.
Right now, no such library exists for MicroWorlds, but ironically it
does for HyperStudio: the long and growing list of New Button Actions
(NBAs). Users are encouraged to create their own NBAs and development
tools are provided in the HyperStudio package. Unfortunately, the NBAs are
written in C and the tools support C programmers rather than ordinary
humans using Logo.
What is most interesting is that Brian is unaware that MicroWorlds is in
fact the Smalltalk-like environment that he advocates. MicroWorlds is Logo
written in Logo: The development system is itself a version of Logo. The
entire user interface is controlled by Logo procedures. While this is no
secret, LCSI provides no documentation or support for using this
underlying Logo. Except for an occasional weird error message about
"button-loop" you wouldn't know it exists. So I think Brian's critique is
valid. It would be great to muck around underneath MicroWorlds, but
without LCSI's help we can't. MicroWorlds might as well be written in C.
New York City
Mike Westerfield replies:
There's certainly a lot to be said for a recursively developed
programming system, designed in itself and using source code that is
available to any user. In a research environment, that's a real boon. In
many ways, it's exacly what happened with C and UNIX, although the effort
was not as well organized or carefully thought out as Smalltalk.
Yet Brian Harvey seems to dismiss an important point about HyperStudio.
It is not a Logo language environment with multimedia commands. It is a
multimedia word processor. It doesn't even need a scripting language to be
a useful product, and in fact, early versions of HyperStudio were shipped
without a scripting language.
Comparing HyperStudio and HyperLogo to Smalltalk is like comparing
calculators to desktop computers: There is some overlap of purpose, but
they are not the same thing. The appropriate model for HyperStudio is
Microsoft Word, not Smalltalk. Both are editors, although one edits
multimedia and the other edits text. Both have scripting languages that
are not used for routine tasks, but are available when needed.
While a system such as the one Brian describes would no doubt be useful
to many people, I doubt that the typical HyperStudio customer would give
it a second glance. Just as someone who needs to write a letter uses
Microsoft Word rather than Icon, someone who wants to develop a multimedia
resume or classroom lesson will find HyperStudio easier to use than a Logo
Brian and I share a lot of common interests. Like him, I would be
interested in using a development environment like the one he describes.
In fact, if I thought I could make a commercial success from it, I would
even enjoy writing one. But even if I had it on my desk, and was
completely familiar with it, I'd use HyperStudio to create my resume or to
create a computer-based description of comet Hyakutake. And I'd happily
take advantage of a great language to do so.
HyperStudio is not your professor's programming environment, to twist an
advertising slogan. It's a radical new way to use a great language for an
entirely new purpose. It's not a competitor for a traditional Logo
programming environment, but does represent a great tool p; and one with
unique opportunities for anyone who already knows Logo.
Byte Works, Inc.
Memories of Logo
The following message appeared recently on the UseNet newsgroup
Article 2474 in comp.lang.logo:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kylie Elizabeth Olean)
Subject: Memories of Logo
Hi, I'm not a teacher, nor do I really have anything to do with Logo
anymore. I saw this newsgroup, though, and couldn't help but subscribe.
My first experience with computers was on an Apple IIe, using Logo. That
turtle was the coolest thing when I was seven or eight. I read a post
where someone said that Logo was too difficult for younger children to
comprehend. I seriously disagree with that statement. I started learning
Logo in second grade. It was what piqued my interest in computers.
I'm now working as a technical assistant in my university's computer
resource center. I help people with problems they're having with
computers. And I kind of owe it all to Logo. Of course, I probably would
have eventually gotten interested in computers, even without it. I would
have started later when I learned BASIC in jr. high. But I still have
very fond memories of that turtle. And I just wanted to share that.