BASIC Programs Over Shortwave

written by Matthew Reed

I ran across an interesting news article by Chris Brown in the July 1981 issue of 80 Microcomputing, titled “Dutch to Air BASIC Program.” From the article:

In what may be a first, an international shortwave broadcasting station will soon broadcast a machine readable computer program around the world.

On Sep. 10, the Dutch World Radio Service, Hilversum, Holland, intends to broadcast a brief BASIC program in computer ready, CLOADable form as part of a weekly science segment called “Media Network.” The show features microcomputers as its topic, and the BASIC program broadcast will be a housekeeping program. It will be broadcast in TRS‑80, Apple and Pet compatible formats.

The broadcast may herald a new era in information exchange for microcomputerists. Should the reception of computer programs over the shortwave bands by listeners equipped with ordinary receivers turn out to be a straightforward process, the dissemination of software for popular microcomputers could take a large leap forward.

I wonder how this experiment turned out. It certainly didn’t “herald a new era in information exchange” so I suspect that shortwave was not a good medium for transmitting computer code. Here is another quote from later in the article:

According to Jonathan Marks, the producer of the Media Network show, similar experiments have been successfully been performed within Holland by the the Dutch domestic broadcasting service. A weekly program called “Hobbyscope” has used FM transmissions to broadcast several BASIC programs to its listeners.

I had heard of Hobbyscope (or Hobbyscoop) before in reference to Media Network, which was one of my favorite radio programs. I began listening to Media Network in the late 1980’s and continued listening until the show ended in October 2000. What’s funny is that I recall reading this 80 Microcomputing article back when it was published, but I didn’t remember that it referred to Media Network and Jonathan Marks, the show’s longtime producer and host.

Jonathan Marks left Radio Netherlands several years ago and set up his own company, Critical Distance. He now writes the Critical Distance Weblog. Media Network continues today as the Media Network Weblog, written by Andy Sennitt.

Categories: General