Thursday, May 1, 2014


It’s the fiftieth anniversary of Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. Time has a lengthy report: Fifty Years of BASIC. Dartmouth has a celebration: BASIC at 50. It puzzles me that Google has nothing. Doesn’t BASIC’s fiftieth rate a Google Doodle?

Raise your hand if you remember typing in BASIC programs from books and magazines.

comments: 5

The Arthurian said...

My first computer was a Radio Shack Pocket Computer (PC-1) with built-in BASIC and 1K of CMOS memory. My mother-in-law gave it to me as a reward for getting her daughter pregnant. That was in 1978, some time before "PC" meant personal computer.

The pocket computer came with two books -- an instruction manual and a book of games. I looked at them, back and forth, and tossed the games book aside. Worked hard with the instruction manual for a couple weeks, but finally gave up on it. So I figured I'd give the games book a try.

I picked out a game that looked interesting, typed it in, and ran the program. There was an error in line 6.

I checked the book, fixed the error, and ran the program again. I got another error.

Okay... I checked the book, fixed the error, and ran the program again. There was an error in line 12. This was getting discouraging.

But suddenly I realized I was making progress. The errors were coming later and later in the code.

I fixed one or two more errors, no more than that, and suddenly my little game started working!

I've been a computer addict since that day.

Anonymous said...

A basic reflection on time and technology. As an past employee of electronics companies in the youth of the industry, I was visiting a museum and came across a display of various things, including the pre-electronic Comptometer which I used in a job when I first began my career. All in a museum. The normal reactions flooded over me. Excepting that I still work on the fast-traveling edge of computer tech, I think it becomes my time to be in that museum, an artifact of a passing age. And then I think, oy....

Michael Leddy said...

Arthurian, the thought of 1K of memory boggles my mind. I began with 128, an Apple //c.

Anon., what you describe reminds me of my reaction when seeing a View-Master on display (Art Institute of Chicago).

Gary said...

Fifty years? My gosh. I was introduced to BASIC in the early 80's on a TRS-80. I don't miss either one.
BASIC programmers never die, they GOSUP and don't RETURN".

Michael Leddy said...

I think I remember enough to get the joke. GOSUB, right? Subroutine?