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Print That!

Blake Patterson on Flickr

When someone asks, “can you print this?” do you think about using a computer to print a file? That’s what occurs to most people.

But there’s another kind of printing. It’s used in software programming and its history goes back to the last century and last millennium. It’s not as old as dinosaurs but it is old.

Early computers displayed data on a screen after calculations were made. People called that printing to the screen. Eventually people figured out how to print OFF a screen, on paper the way we write (or used to write?) on paper. However, today most people don’t realize viewing a web page on a computer screen really is printing the web page to their screen. We think of printing as separate from our computer screen.

But you can still print to your screen with a software programming language. In fact, printing is the first basic skill to learn for most languages.

Go to Python.org, the main website for the Python programming language, and you’ll find a virtual emulator (A) that lets you type Python code and see results. Without having to bother installing the Python language. Click the yellow > button in the interpreter to clear out the screen and load Python. Then type this command carefully:

print(“Hello World!”)

You’ll see the correct output (B). Type Ctrl + L to clear the screen, if that’s useful.

Now maybe type this command:

print(“I’m a monkey”)

Congratulations, you’ve now learned another older meaning of print. And, if you don’t know Python, you’ve done a simple programming exercise in that language.

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History of Hello World