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Herriott, John.

Toronto, Wiley, c1985. 142pp, paper, $9.95, ISBN 0471 -79736-7. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Don Precosky

Volume 13 Number 6
1985 November

The Book of Icon is an introduction and user's guide to Icon, a Canadian made microcomputer system designed for educational use. Ideally, this system consists of a number of individual terminal/monitor units networked with (i.e., connected to) a central hard disc drive called Lexicon.

This book is not "rollicking but informative" as the blurb on the back cover describes it. Herriott, who has written two other books on computing, Using and Programming the Commodore 64 and Mastering the Vic 20, is too much entranced with the nitty gritty of the machine's operating system. Also, he seems unsure as to who his audience is. At times he is addressing teachers, at others students, and when he makes occasional obscure references to a "Cemcorp Icon Training Manual," apparently in-house trainees. This is a shame, because the Icon sounds like a useful tool. It derives its name from the fact that many of its applications are icon driven. Instead of typing in commands, the user points an arrow at an icon (picture on the TV screen) and presses a key. The Icon offers several programming languages including BASIC, Pascal, Logo, and C, and text and graphics editing applications.

The book does not get down to the main uses of Icon until late in chapter 5 when it explains the "User Interface," (the way in which users communicate with the machine and it with them). Chapter 6 describes the text editor and chapter 7 looks at the graphics editor. Unfortunately, chapter 8 plunges back into the "Deeper Mysteries of QNX," (the operating system). Icon sounds like an exciting machine that could be used with ease in many courses, from computer programming and math to English and art. It needs a better book to explain it.

Don Precosky, College of New Caledonia, Prince George, B.C.
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