Thomas E. Kurtz
1991 Computer Pioneer Award
Thomas E. Kurtz (Thomas Eugene Kurtz; born February 22, 1928) was a Dartmouth professor of mathematics and a computer scientist, who along with his colleague John G. Kemeny set in motion the then revolutionary concept of making computers as freely available to college students as library books were, by implementing the concept of Time-Sharing at Dartmouth College. In his mission to allow non-expert users to interact with the computer, he co-developed the BASIC programming language (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) during 1963 to 1964.
A native of Oak Park Illinois, United States, Kurtz graduated from Knox College in 1950, and was awarded a Ph.D. degree from Princeton University in 1956, where his advisor was John Tukey, and joined the Mathematics Department of Dartmouth College that same year.
In 1983, Kurtz and Kemeny co-founded a company called True BASIC, Inc. to market True BASIC, an updated version of the language.
Kurtz has also served as Council Chairman and Trustee of EDUCOM, as well as Trustee and Chairman of NERComP, and on the Pierce Panel of the President's Scientific Advisory Committee. Kurtz also served on the steering committees for the CONDUIT project and the CCUC conferences on instructional computing. In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.