Fifty years ago today, in a darkened basement at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Jersey, was created a computer programming language that was to have a revolutionary effect on the science and industry of information technology – Basic.
BASIC – or Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code to give it its full title – was the brainchild of mathematics lecturers John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz, who wanted to create a universal programming language that students and computer novices alike could use with ease. So successful was it, that it became the primary programming language for the home computer boom of the 1970’s and 1980’s (including machines such as the venerable Sinclair ZX Spectrum, pictured above), on which many the industry giants of today cut their first IT teeth on, and it is still widely used today, albeit in a vastly evolved form, in languages such as Microsoft Visual Basic.
Programming buffs looking for a nostalgia kick may be amused by the range of books about the original Basic language that we still keep downstairs in our programming section, alongside books about its illustrious descendant – which you may find more useful, unless you keep a friendly old ZX as a back-up for your disertation!
ZX Spectrum keyboard image by Matt and Kim Rudge, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.