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BASIC computer language turns 40
The Salt Lake Tribune ^ | April 30, 2004 | J.M. Hirsch The Associated Press

Posted on 05/01/2004 10:22:14 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach

On May 1, 1964, the BASIC computer programing language 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.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: anniversary; basic; techindex
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Memories !!
1 posted on 05/01/2004 10:22:15 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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IBM's 'dinosaur' turns 40
2 posted on 05/01/2004 10:23:25 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: *tech_index; RadioAstronomer
fyi
3 posted on 05/01/2004 10:24:09 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
10 PRINT "JOHN F. KERRY IS NOT FIT TO BE PRESIDENT"
20 GOTO 10

}:-)4
4 posted on 05/01/2004 10:29:22 AM PDT by Moose4 (Those who serve--thank you. May you find us worthy of the sacrifices you make.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Hee hee!
5 posted on 05/01/2004 10:30:13 AM PDT by martin_fierro (A v v n c v l v s M a x i m v s)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Memories !!

How true. In another life, back in the late 60s, I taught math. There was a local GE plant that let us hook into the GE/Dartmouth time-sharing network with ASR 35s, shown below, where my students did a lot of BASIC programming.

ASR 35 Teletype (1968)

6 posted on 05/01/2004 10:33:57 AM PDT by pt17
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To: pt17
Those Teletype machines were tough to use, I much preferred the 026 card punch.

Of course , the computer was close by!
7 posted on 05/01/2004 10:38:08 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: Rose in RoseBear
ping, for the memories...
8 posted on 05/01/2004 10:38:57 AM PDT by Bear_in_RoseBear (Comics ain't just for kids anymore)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Ah, the memories. I remember writing programs in BASIC on my old Commodore Vic 20 (hooked up to a 12-inch black and white TV, and a tape recorder to save programs).


9 posted on 05/01/2004 10:41:59 AM PDT by saquin
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To: saquin
Mine was a Timex Sinclair 1000, BASIC, hooked to the same peripherals. It had a whopping 1K memory.


10 posted on 05/01/2004 10:44:30 AM PDT by Rebelbase
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To: Moose4
10 PRINT "JOHN F. KERRY IS NOT FIT TO BE PRESIDENT"
20 GOTO 10

LOL!

11 posted on 05/01/2004 10:45:32 AM PDT by Azzurri
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To: pt17

12 posted on 05/01/2004 10:45:42 AM PDT by South40 (Amnesty for ILLEGALS is a slap in the face to the USBP!)
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To: Rebelbase
1K SHOULD BE ENOUGH FOR EVERYBODY!
13 posted on 05/01/2004 10:48:37 AM PDT by ChadGore (Vote Bush. He's Earned It.)
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To: Fedora
This is cool! I share a birthday with a really ancient programming language!
14 posted on 05/01/2004 10:52:07 AM PDT by JenB
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To: ChadGore
"No one will need more than 637 kb of memory for a personal computer."
-Bill Gates in the early 1970s
15 posted on 05/01/2004 10:52:54 AM PDT by South40 (Amnesty for ILLEGALS is a slap in the face to the USBP!)
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To: saquin
That was my 2nd computer I ever used. The first is the commodore PET. It had black keys though.



I went to a small private religious school. The computer was so valuable they had a church member build a wooden box and put it in. When not in use the door was closed and the thing was locked with a small padlock.
16 posted on 05/01/2004 10:54:21 AM PDT by festus
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To: JenB
Happy Birthday!
17 posted on 05/01/2004 10:54:41 AM PDT by South40 (Amnesty for ILLEGALS is a slap in the face to the USBP!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
I much preferred the 026 card punch.

LOL, the paper tape on an ASR was a little tougher to fix than a punch card. On the other hand, dropping a roll of paper tape wasn't nearly as bad as dropping a tray of cards, was it? Used the 026 quite a bit, along with an 082, 083, 416, 407 and 650. I'd list more but this is getting too maudlin and making me feel old.

IBM 026 Punch Card Unit
18 posted on 05/01/2004 10:57:49 AM PDT by pt17
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To: South40
Was that Commodore before or after the Osborn?
19 posted on 05/01/2004 11:01:24 AM PDT by pt17
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To: pt17
10 PRINT "BASIC SUCKS!!!!!!!";
20 GOTO 10
30 END

(I learned a form of Basic so primitive it actually used the "LET" statement.)
20 posted on 05/01/2004 11:03:51 AM PDT by Ronly Bonly Jones
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To: JenB
Happy Birthday!
21 posted on 05/01/2004 11:04:34 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Paul Vick, a senior developer at Microsoft, said his company owes much to BASIC>>>

Yes, starting with most Windows source code.
22 posted on 05/01/2004 11:04:51 AM PDT by Ronly Bonly Jones
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To: pt17
I feel old cause I am, takes me a couple of hours in the morning to get going. I taught math in the early 60's as a grad teaching assistant working on advanced degrees.
23 posted on 05/01/2004 11:06:40 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: pt17
The Osborn was the early '80s. The Commadore 64 was intorduced in 1986 (I think).


24 posted on 05/01/2004 11:08:04 AM PDT by South40 (Amnesty for ILLEGALS is a slap in the face to the USBP!)
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To: Moose4
lol!
25 posted on 05/01/2004 11:11:21 AM PDT by Texas_Jarhead
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Great memories, in fact. Prior to there being significant inexpensive software to license for a home computer I wrote a check book balancing program in BASICA. My wife played with it a bit and that helped her later as she wrote SAS programs in grad school. I never had to use it on the job though. Maybe that's why my memories are fond.
26 posted on 05/01/2004 11:11:55 AM PDT by jimfree (Oblivious is as oblivious does.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Memories !!

Gee, I didn't realize that BASIC was THAT old.
My introduction to programming languages began in '71 with keypunching FORTRAN IV (w/ WATFOR AND WATFIV), COBOL and IBM 370 Assembly Language. I didn't stumble across BASIC until '75 or '76, and remember thinking it was nothing but an anemic (albeit easier), watered down version of FORTRAN.

27 posted on 05/01/2004 11:13:21 AM PDT by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: saquin
I remember writing programs in BASIC on my old Commodore Vic 20 (hooked up to a 12-inch black and white TV, and a tape recorder to save programs

A buddy of mine was taking a programming class in the early 80s. He used to bring over the audio cassettes and we'd play them on the stereo. wEiRd sOuNdS! <|:)~

28 posted on 05/01/2004 11:13:48 AM PDT by martin_fierro (A v v n c v l v s M a x i m v s)
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To: Ronly Bonly Jones
Yes, starting with most Windows source code.

Oh really?!? Windows is written in BASIC?

29 posted on 05/01/2004 11:13:51 AM PDT by mikegi
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To: Rebelbase
I still have my first "laptop" sitting on my bookshelf. A Timex Sinclair 2068. Of course you needed a TV set for the monitor and a cassette player for memory. Still it was sort of portable.....
30 posted on 05/01/2004 11:19:47 AM PDT by fjsva
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To: fjsva
I still have my first "laptop" sitting on my bookshelf. A Timex Sinclair 2068. Of course you needed a TV set for the monitor and a cassette player for memory. Still it was sort of portable.....

Well, all together that would weigh about as much as one of the original Compaq "luggables". After I'd haul one of those things around airports all day I'd swear one arm was an inch longer than the other.

31 posted on 05/01/2004 11:22:29 AM PDT by mikegi
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To: mikegi
It would explain much. If true. ;0)
32 posted on 05/01/2004 11:23:12 AM PDT by Ronly Bonly Jones
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To: South40
I have one of those!!!!! It still works too.

If only I could remember all those Commode r commands.
33 posted on 05/01/2004 11:25:48 AM PDT by Conan the Librarian (I am a Librarian. I don't know anything....I just know where to look it up.)
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To: JenB
This is cool! I share a birthday with a really ancient programming language!

That is cool! And what's even cooler is it's one of the few programming languages I actually know! I have some old D&D rpg games written in BASIC lying around here somewhere, was thinking of typing them in to play them a while back :)

34 posted on 05/01/2004 11:27:05 AM PDT by Fedora
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To: Conan the Librarian
If only I could remember all those Commode r commands.

Check this

35 posted on 05/01/2004 11:36:38 AM PDT by South40 (Amnesty for ILLEGALS is a slap in the face to the USBP!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
I'm afraid we dinosaurs will be extincted soon. Kids today don't know or appreciate real programming. Interview one and ask: "What programming languages do you know?" If you get the answer "All of them", you've found your candidate. Programming is an art. Just because someone takes a VB class in school and can operate any one of our great point and click 4GL development environments (Visual C++, Delphi, etc.) doesn't make him a programmer. Let's talk technical. (from an old Digital perspective).

I don't have anyone to talk dirty with anymore. boo hoo.

36 posted on 05/01/2004 11:37:52 AM PDT by kdot
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Makes me feel old having my first computer experience writing programs in a BASIC predecessor, FORTRAN, entering my programs and data on punch cards
37 posted on 05/01/2004 11:42:43 AM PDT by The Great RJ
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
The original version of BASIC may have been designed 40 years ago, but how many people (even among those who program some variant of BASIC) know Dartmouth BASIC?

When did the first variants appear that regarded strings as a natural type (rather than an array) and allowed for multiple statements on a line (including following an IF/THEN)?

On a related note, did Darmouth basic start out supporting the "MAT" keyword, or was that a later enhancement?

38 posted on 05/01/2004 11:47:48 AM PDT by supercat (Why is it that the more "gun safety" laws are passed, the less safe my guns seem?)
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To: pt17
LOL, the paper tape on an ASR was a little tougher to fix than a punch card. On the other hand, dropping a roll of paper tape wasn't nearly as bad as dropping a tray of cards, was it?

I remember pulling an all-nighter at the computer center when some poor guy dropped a shoebox full of punch cards. They scattered everywhere. The guy was almost in tears and the rest of us truly felt his pain.

39 posted on 05/01/2004 11:52:04 AM PDT by jalisco555 ("The right to bear weapons is the right to be free" - A. E. Van Vogt)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Memories !!

I was a late-comer. Didn't start using BASIC until 1970 on a college computer. A couple years later I really appreciated the simplicity of BASIC when I started doing Octal machine language programming on a PDP-8. One thing that sucked was saving your code on paper tape rolls and tieing it with a rubber band. Still got a few rolls laying around here. Then when I got my Apple-II in '77 I was amazed at the expanded repertoir of BASIC commands over that of the college system that cost 100 times as much.

40 posted on 05/01/2004 11:55:07 AM PDT by roadcat
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
No way I thought it was that old. I remember learning it on Apple II-somethings as a 3rd grader back in the mid-80's.
41 posted on 05/01/2004 12:00:12 PM PDT by July 4th (You need to click "Abstimmen")
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To: July 4th
My first computer language, prepared me for C++ and java.

PRINT "Vote Bush".
42 posted on 05/01/2004 12:02:27 PM PDT by John Will
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To: kdot
I can't answer those questions, but I never did anything with DEC.

I did use the Test Under Mask on the 360 Assembler language.
43 posted on 05/01/2004 12:08:35 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: South40
Thanks for the info. It seems so long ago.
44 posted on 05/01/2004 12:12:51 PM PDT by pt17
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To: Moose4
10 ? "DUBYA IS GOING TO CAUSE A LANDSLIDE!;"
20 GOTO 10


I learned BASIC on my Atari 1200XL. I remember copying pages and pages of code out of these thick computer magazines in order to get a picture to come out. I remember one that took me a few hours between my brother and I that was called Farah. When we finally ran it, it turned out to be a picture of a faucet!
45 posted on 05/01/2004 12:13:21 PM PDT by FreeManWhoCan ((!Kerry es una CHANQLETA! The kind that goes between the big stinky toe!))
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To: Moose4
***10 PRINT "JOHN F. KERRY IS NOT FIT TO BE PRESIDENT"
20 GOTO 10 ***

LOL!

Reminds me of my first computer over twenty years ago. KayPro...16K...came with instructions to write your own programs with BASIC.

So I did! Man, was I proud! I even wrote a program that called for a password. It worked! It worked so well that a week later when I tried to get into the program, I learned the most important lesson of all: DON'T FORGET YOUR PASSWORD. More than twenty years later, I STILL can't remember that password. LOL!

But, for its time, the KayPro was a great little machine with the best word processor ever written.

46 posted on 05/01/2004 12:15:07 PM PDT by kitkat
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To: roadcat
I was amazed at the expanded repertoir of BASIC commands over that of the college system that cost 100 times as much.

I introduced my class to programming in BASIC when our school system installed a teletype machine networked with 7 other schools. (early 70's) They put games on the system to attract students, then took them off when the students did not want to do anything else.

One of my students programmed the machine to try all system passwords and stop when it cracked the protection code so he could take over and put the games back on line.

He wound up with a "A". (I did not teach how to write that particular program, but did include looping and testing.)

47 posted on 05/01/2004 12:15:27 PM PDT by KC_for_Freedom (Sailing the highways of America, and loving it.)
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To: All
Another language that goes back a ways is APL:

____________________________________________________________

History

APL stands for "A Programming Language." It was created in the 1960's by Ken Iverson and his colleagues at IBM. Mathematically inspired, its main purpose was to serve as a powerful executable notation for mathematical algorithms. What APL is best known for is its use of non-ASCII symbols, including some Greek letters. It is a dynamically typed interactive, array oriented language with a dynamic scope. In APL, all expressions are evaluated from right to left.

Significant Language Features


<! Where is this language used? simulation, application programming, education, embedded systems, etc. >

Areas of Application

APL - Array Programming Language

You could do some neat stuff with the language.

48 posted on 05/01/2004 12:17:25 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got!!!!)
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To: jalisco555
I remember pulling an all-nighter at the computer center when some poor guy dropped a shoebox full of punch cards. They scattered everywhere. The guy was almost in tears and the rest of us truly felt his pain.

Ahh, yes, the good old days (NOT) when you were nearly finished sorting 20 or so trays of punch cards on an 082 and then dropped a tray.

I wonder if there's any old-timers out there who remember the "go find some color brushes for colored cards" joke that was always played on newbies.
49 posted on 05/01/2004 12:20:53 PM PDT by pt17
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To: Moose4
ROFL.

Ah, memories.
50 posted on 05/01/2004 12:22:23 PM PDT by Professional Engineer (Welcome to the Free Republic ~ You can logout any time you like, but you can't ever leave.)
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