Kyrgyz computer education signs

Carl is stationed in Kyrgyzstan with the Peace Corps, and has photographed a computer-literacy classroom with beautiful hand-painted technical instructional signs, including this lovely BASIC tutorial, written in Kyrgyz (spoken by 5,000,000 people), using Cyrillics.

Programming: The International Language (Thanks, Carl!)


  1. The Quadratic formula was one of the first BASIC programs I wrote on a RM380Z in 1979. I used English instead.

  2. Likewise the quadratic equation solver was the first computer program that I wrote in 1973. I hand punched Fortran into special perforated cards and took the train down to Imperial College to run them. the first card said “PUFFT” which meant Perform Ultra Fast Fortran Translation. I went round the Science Museum and picked up the printout an hour later.

    1. The N’s are truncated M’s because there is no N in Cyrillic, so I bet whoever painted the sign didn’t have a stencil for N! He had to make do with what he had…

      1. pConD, if you were looking for something that would make Sinclair Basic throw a fit then the Cyrillic text in line 10 seems an obvious place to start.

        BTW, it’s also >= not => in Sinclair Basic (although I wonder if any Basic has ever interpreted => in the way intended here).

  3. I think it’s well within the powers of BASIC to calculate imaginary roots, too.
    Nice picture, though.

  4. The Kirghiz Light

    “Are you going to get it all?” asks Dzaqyp Qulan.
    “In stenography,” replies Tchitcherine, his g a little glottal.

    The Aqyn’s Song

    I have come from the edge of the world.
    I have come from the lungs of the wind,
    With a thing I have seen so awesome
    Even Dzambul could not sing it.
    With a fear in my heart so sharp
    It will cut the strongest of metals.

    In the ancient tales it is told
    In a time that is older than Qorqyt,
    Who took from the wood of Syrghaj
    The first qobyz, and the first song–
    It is told that a land far distant
    Is the place of the Kirghiz Light.

    In a place where words are unknown,
    And eyes shine like candles at night,
    And the face of God is a presence
    Behind the mask of the sky–
    At the tall black rock in the desert,
    In the time of the final days.

    If the place were not so distant,
    If words were known, and spoken,
    Then the God might be a gold ikon,
    Or a page in a paper book.
    But It comes as the Kirghiz Light–
    There is no other way to know It.

    There roar of Its voice is deafness,
    The flash of Its light is blindness.
    The floor of the desert rumbles,
    And Its face cannot be borne.
    And a man cannot be the same,
    After seeing the Kirghiz Light.

    For I tell you that I have seen It
    In a place which is older than darkness
    Where even Allah cannot reach.
    As you see, my beard is an ice-field,
    I walk with a stick to support me,
    But this light must change us to children.

    And now I cannot walk far,
    For a baby must learn to walk.
    And my words are reaching your ears
    As the meaningless sounds of a baby.
    For the Kirghiz Light took my eyes,
    Now I sense all Earth like a baby.

    It is north, for a six-day ride,
    Through the steep and death-gray canyons,
    Then across the stony desert
    To the mountain whose peak is a white dzurt.
    And if you have passed without danger,
    The place of the black rock will find you.

    But if you would not be born,
    Then stay with your warm red fire,
    And stay with your wife, in your tent,
    And the Light will never find you,
    And your heart will grow heavy with age,
    And your eyes will shut only to sleep.

    “Got it,” sez Tchitcherine. “Let’s ride, comrade.”

  5. The Cyrillic transliterates as:
    Beisik Tili (BASIC tutorial?)
    Kvadrattyk Tendeme (Quadratic equation?)
    Tamyry Zhok (No solutions?)
    Tendemenin Tamyrlary (Solutions of Equation?)

    I don’t speak Kyrgyz, this is just an educated guess (from the BASIC plus the fact that “yok” is Turkish for no and Kyrgyz is a Turkic language).

  6. What type of Basic is that? I don’t think line 40 would have ever worked in the QBasic that I learned to program in. Or was the “goto” optional this hole time?

    1. I resent the implication that knowing how to program in basic means you’re at least 30! Why, I’m only … oh, shit. Never mind.


  7. Actually, I’m a few years under 30. I learned to program in Basic from an old YA novel I read when I was 10 called “The Minerva Program” which had one or two programs written out. Ah, those badly-written books I used to read. :)

  8. Funny. I am 24 and when I was in middle school in Kazakhstan, we learned the same stuff. Then, Fortran in the university in Moscow.

  9. @AlexG55: Actually, I think “тили” means “language”, given the Turkish “dil”.

    This sign of the Latin alphabet interests me quite a bit from a linguistic perspective. For some reason, the French pronunciations of the letter names are given… with the exception of G and J, which have the German pronunciation listed first, and French second.

  10. Hrm. They include a check to avoid taking the square root of a negative number, but they miss a possible division-by-zero error. Sloppy sloppy.

  11. From the numbering and style, not to mention the END keyword, I’m pretty sure this is a version of 1964-vintage Darthmouth BASIC, that lived on as the BASICA that some early IBM PC computers had in ROM, and the GW-BASIC that came with the early versions of MS-DOS. You can see the original PDF that pretty much all but displays this example.

    SamSam, what were you doing using numbers when QBasic allowed labels and freed us from remembering what line 1534 was actually for?

    I’m not yet 30, I just started coding when I was 6.

    1. @Takashi Omoto: Like I said, I learned almost everything I knew about coding from three examples in a Young Adult novel about a girl who discovers that someone is embezzling funds through the school’s mainframes. I’m not sure what version of Basic was being used, and at the time I didn’t know that there were different kinds of Basic. All I knew was that the examples seemed pretty simple to copy and change, and I went on from there.

      I did figure out quite early that not every line needed a number, but I never worked out that you could GoTo a line with a label — I only knew about numbered lines.

      Now I work as a software developer, so with any luck my knowledge of programming — and of reading documentation — has improved since then…

  12. Checking for a sqrt(0) is the least of their problems. Using the naive form of the Quadratic Equation lads to some destructive cancellation during the subtraction when B^2 and 4AC are very similar, cancellation that can lose almost all your bits of accuracy during the final reconstruction of the roots. Real world implementations should use this form:

    I’m astonished how many computer scientists make this mistake time and time again. A perfect example of “oh that’s easy, I know how to do that…”

  13. Yeah, I’m in my 30s. And what I find most amusing about it is that the quadratic formula is considered sufficuently… basic, to teach in a beginner’s class on programming.

    That sort of implies that the people taking it are at least, I dunno, in the UK you’d need to be about 15 before they’d face you with that.

    So do they teach programming later, or quadratics earlier, there?

  14. Too bad everybody’s only talking about the stupid BASIC program, not about what a beautiful country Kyrgyzstan is .. (the only more-or-less working democracy in Central Asia)

  15. Translations

    Basic Language (Til means language)
    10 Quadratic Equation
    50 No Root (Jok means no)
    110 Equation Root

Comments are closed.