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Basic: The Little Language That Wouldn't Die
March/April 2000 (vol. 2 no. 2)
pp. 6-10
"Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Batch, all access to the magical shrine Mainframe was controlled by a guild of wizards called Assemblers. They offered the machine-punched cards with the arcane symbols of their calling. Then, the monks of the benevolent orders Fortran and Cobol settled in the kingdom, and those who learned their language could actually understand what was in columns 7 through 72 of the sacrificial cards. But eventually the knights of Dartmouth, Sirs Kemeny and Kurtz, revolted against the evil card queue and let ordinary citizens submit Basic petitions to the gods through public shrines called Terminals..." The early history of computers sometimes does seem like a fairy tale to those who did not have to grapple with its foibles. The appearance of the Basic language (and the similar Focal) on early DEC machines in the 1960s did make computer programming available to ordinary folks, so to speak. In the next decade, Li Chen Wang's Tiny Basic and Microsoft's Basic interpreter for the Altair set the stage for the microcomputer revolution. For some time, Microsoft's Quick Basic was the only programming language available for PCs.
Citation:
Donald L. Shirer, "Basic: The Little Language That Wouldn't Die," Computing in Science and Engineering, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 6-10, March-April 2000, doi:10.1109/MCSE.2000.10008
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