All I can say is.....ALL YOUR BASIC ARE BELONG TO US!!! (and thank God for C++)
By J.M. HIRSCH
10 PRINT "In 1963 two Dartmouth College math professors had a radical"
20 PRINT "idea - create a computer language muscular enough to harness"
30 PRINT "the power of the period's computers, yet simple enough that even"
40 PRINT "the school's janitors could use it."
A year later on May 1, 1964, the BASIC computer programing language (as demonstrated above) was born and for the first time computers were taken out of the lab and brought into the community.
Forty years later pure BASIC - Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code - has all but disappeared, but its legacy lives on.
"This is the birth of personal computing," said Arthur Luehrmann, a former Dartmouth physics professor who is writing a book about BASIC's development at the university. "It was personal computing before people knew what personal computing was."
Paul Vick, a senior developer at Microsoft, said his company owes much to BASIC, the software giant's first product. Microsoft's Windows operating system and Office suite still use a descendent called Visual Basic.
BASIC was born in an age when computers were large, expensive and the exclusive province of scientists, many of whom were forced to buy research time on the nation's handful of machines.
Dartmouth math professors Thomas Kurtz and John Kemeny envisioned something better, an unprecedented system that would give their entire school - from the faculty to the food service staff - simultaneous access to a computer.
Using existing technology called time sharing, the pair created a primitive network to allow multiple users to share a single computer through terminals scattered around campus.
With the help of students, Kurtz and Kemeny developed a commonsense language to run the system, relying on basic equations and commands, such as PRINT, LIST and SAVE.
John McGeachie, then a student, was there at 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, when BASIC came to life in the basement of Dartmouth's College Hall. Two terminals hooked up to a single computer ran two different programs.
"I don't think anybody knew how it would end up catching on," said McGeachie, now 61 and a software designer. "It was just enormously exciting for us as students to be working on something so many people said couldn't be done."
Within a short time nearly everyone at Dartmouth - a humanities-based college - had some BASIC experience. And it wasn't long before the business community took notice.
Kurtz said that by 1970 nearly 100 companies used BASIC systems to share and sell time on computers. And when computers eventually entered the consumer market, most used BASIC.
The popularity of BASIC waned as computers got more sophisticated, and newer languages were developed to take advantage of the power. Many of those languages, including the Internet's Java, have their roots in BASIC.
Harry McCracken, editor-in-chief of PC World magazine, laments BASIC's demise.
"On some level I think it's sad that it went away," he said. "People went from being creators of software to consumers."