Usborne's 1980s range of childrens' coding books released as free PDFs

A knight fights a dragon on the cover of an Usborne book.
(Image credit: Usborne)

Publishing giant Usborne has been in the computer books business for many, many decades, and its productions were an entry point to the industry for unknowable numbers of coders. As with everything in a technology-led industry these books are very much of their time, but the whole aesthetic of these things is nostalgia catnip for those of a certain age. If you're the type who ever sat down in front of a Spectrum and spent half a day painstakingly copying out code, then the gaudy thrill of the illustrations for Computer Spacegames never fades.

There's a wide range, available for free on its website. It rather charmingly advises that "these programs don't work on modern computers" though the books cover more than coding, and of course if you've got a BBC Micro or Commodore 64 in the attic then it's rock and roll time.

The books are obviously no longer in print, so fair play to the publisher for keeping them available and free. Usborne of course does keep up with the times and, should you want to seed some nostalgia in the next generation, has a contemporary range of books to teach kids some coding skills.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."