Binky Pointer Fun Video

Stanford CS Education Library: Pointer Fun With Binky -- a fun 3 minute video that explains the basics features of pointers and memory.

10 second preview (770k)

Full video

The full video is 3 minutes long and comes in two sizes -- small (300 x 320, 14 Megabytes) and large (640 x 480, 34 Megabytes). There are different versions of the video customized to use the syntax of various languages... The video will open in its own window and it should "stream", so you can watch it as it downloads. Alternately, you can option-click the link to save the video file locally, and then play it with a video player application (Quicktime Player, Windows Media Player, ...).

The Stanford CS Education Library contains lots of other useful CS Materials...

Binky with 42 There is a 6-page companion document which presents the concepts and code from the video along with study questions and solutions. For the curious, there is a a brief history of how Binky was made.

Formats and Logistics

The video is in the AVI format which seems to be the most cross-platform. The Quicktime player and the Windows Media Player both understand AVI, and it works on Unix too. The MIME type of AVI is video/avi (the older variants are video/x-msvideo or video/msvideo).

You can let your browser plug-in play the video in a browser window, or save the AVI file and play it with a dedicated video playing application (Quicktime Movie Player or Microsoft Video Player). To download the movie file from your browser, you typically right-click, option-click, or click-hold on the URL, and it will let you save the file locally. Alternately on my version of Netscape (4.5, Mac), the QuickTime plug-in has a "save movie file in cache" option, so after watching the movie you can go to your browser cache and pull the movie out.

Quicktime may be obtained here.


Anyone can use the video to amuse themselves and review the basics of the pointers -- but only for about 3 minutes! A more likely use of the video is as a fun little segment integrated in to a first or second lecture on pointers.

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As with all materials in the CS Education Library, you have almost unlimited rights to copy and redistribute this content. The only restriction is that the material must be reproduced with its copyright legend: "This is document 104 in the Stanford CS Education Library. Please see  for this and other free educational materials. Copyright Nick Parlante 1999."

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you have a pointer video in Java when Java doesn't have pointers?

Well they may be called "references", but essentially they are pointers, at least for the basic material in this video. What Java is missing is pointer address arithmetic, but the video does not mess around with that level. It just examines the fundamental structures of pointers, dereferencing and assignment -- Java has all of those in the basically the same way that C, C++ and Pascal do. The fact that Java has the NullPointerException suggests that somebody thinks it has pointers!

What's this "pointee" stuff?

Sadly, there is no established word for "the thing the pointer points to". Across different languages and situations, there's a great variety in the type of thing that pointers can point to. Unfortunately you really need a term for "the thing the pointer points to" to write simple descriptions of pointer structures. So I use the word "pointee" for "the thing the pointer points to", and I try to only make statements about "pointers" and "pointees" which are true across all different languages and situations.


I hope you enjoy this material in the spirit of goodwill in which it is given. Thanks to Stanford Universirty and Eric Roberts for giving me the opportunity to create things like this. Someday I may seek out real funding for the CS Ed Library.

Nick Parlante

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