A friend of mine passed me this link:http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2006/09/14/basic/index_np.html
Unfortunately, you need to pay to read it. But I'll give a quick summary:
This dude has a son. In the kid's math text books, there are chapter conclusions that always say "Try It Yourself In BASIC". Then lists a quickie BASIC program that runs the algorithm that the chapter was about. The problem that author has encountered is that modern operating systems do not support BASIC. And he finds it unacceptable to have to download a BASIC interpretter. He is unsatisfied with the many responses of "BASIC is obsolete" (His exact quote is:"Get past all the rationalizations. (Because that is what they are.) "). And he is also unsatisfied with the response of "Go download a BASIC interpretter".
Well, Mr. David Brin. You have made many an assumption that is false.
First, your main premise is that all early computers were BASIC ready. This is wholly incorrect. To be specific, original IBM's (running MS-DOS) required the user to load q-basic to enter any BASIC code. Q-basic is still readily available. You even listed it as one of the interpretters that you were unwilling to download. Original IBM's running OS/2 did not have ANY BASIC interpretter. Yes, Apple II's and Commodores did have built in BASIC interpretters at the command line. The original Mac had nothing.
Third, you want your child to learn abuot computers the same way you did. This doesn't make any sense. Mainly, because you are not a programmer! Why do you think you are qualified to say that your way of learning was the best way of learning? Next, computers are different animals now. There is a reason that Commodore's and Apple II's are no longer the dominant standards in home computing! Their systems were not robust. They were not user friendly. And they are not comparable to modern systems.
You want the answer to your problem to have stayed the same since you first learned it. You don't think its the text books that are the problem...Even though that type of entry in a text book didn't exist in your day (or my day). Really, by the time they started including that in text books, BASIC was already obsolete!
And BASIC still is obsolete. BASIC teaches in-line logic. With regards to programming, in-line logic actually teaches BAD programming habits.