Usborne Releases 1980s Coding Books As Free PDFs


In the 1980s the publisher Usborne released a series of 15 books that aimed to teach kids programming. They covered the basic fundamentals of computer programs as well providing code listing for lots of games. For some these books will offer a massive shot of nostalgia. If you owned a ZX Spectrum, a BBC Micro or a Commodore 64 you probably owned at least one or borrowed one from the library.

Usborne still produce computer books but they have released these classics as free PDF downloads. They might be old but are still relevant and the code exercises could be converted to other languages such as Python with a bit of thought.

Usborne Computer Book ExtractThe reason I loved these as a youngster is that the illustrations made the whole idea of programming a computer interesting. As an adult you can get your kicks out of pages and pages of syntax but kids need a bit more encouragement. The Usborne images that accompanied the examples and code listings made the whole experience fun.

The titles include :

  • Programming Tricks & Skills
  • Computer Programming
  • Computer Spy Games
  • Weird Computer Games
  • Creepy Computer Games
  • Battle Computer Games
  • Space Computer Games

Here are links to all 15 books in the series which you can download for free. Just looking at the “Space Games” cover reminds me of Lordswood Library in Kent where I rented it in what must have been the mid-to-late 80s ….

Introductions to programming

1980s introduction to programming book covers

Programming Tricks and SkillsMachine Code for BeginnersComputer Programming: Basic for BeginnersPractical Things to do With a Microcomputer

Computer games listings

1980s computer games design book covers

Computer BattlegamesComputer SpacegamesComputer Spy GamesWeird Computer GamesCreepy Computer Games

Adventure games

1980s adventure games computer design book covers

The Mystery of Silver MountainIsland of SecretsFantasy GamesAdventure Programs

First computer library

1980s computer library book covers

Computer FunSimple Basic

These PDF copies of the original Usborne Computer Guides published in the 1980s are free to download for your own personal or educational use. The books and files are the copyright of Usborne Publishing. We have provided links to the original PDFs. You may not host or distribute the original files.

Please note

These books were written for 1980s computers such as the ZX Spectrum and BBC Micro. The programs will not run on modern computers unless they are translated to a suitable language.



  1. Thank you very much for sharing such useful and interesting information. My friend works as a programmer, and soon his child will be 8 years old. I think that such books would be a really wonderful gift. But the problem is that when I turn on the link to Amazon shows me completely different books. Does anyone else have a similar problem? I will be glad if someone will throw me an alternative link. Thank you in advance

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