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Programming Technology

Born To RUN: Dartmouth Throwing BASIC a 50th B-Day Party 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the over-the-hill dept.
theodp writes: "Still hanging on to a dog-eared copy of BASIC Computer Games? Back issues of Creative Computing? Well then, Bunky, mark your calendar for April 30th, because Dartmouth College is throwing BASIC a 50th birthday party that you won't want to miss! From the 'invite' to BASIC at 50: 'At 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, in the basement of College Hall, Professor John Kemeny and a student programmer simultaneously typed RUN on neighboring terminals. When they both got back correct answers to their simple programs, time-sharing and BASIC were born. Kemeny, who later became Dartmouth's 13th president, Professor Tom Kurtz, and a number of undergraduate students worked together to revolutionize computing with the introduction of time-sharing and the BASIC programming language. Their innovations made computing accessible to all Dartmouth students and faculty, and soon after, to people across the nation and the world [video — young Bill Gates cameo @2:18]. This year, Dartmouth is celebrating 50 years of BASIC with a day of events on Wednesday, April 30. Please join us as we recognize the enduring impact of BASIC, showcase innovation in computing at Dartmouth today, and imagine what the next 50 years may hold.' Be sure to check out the vintage photos on Flickr to see what real cloud computing looks like, kids!"
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Born To RUN: Dartmouth Throwing BASIC a 50th B-Day Party

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  • by Gondola (189182) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:21AM (#46703867)

    Back in the day, I knew people that could provide me with magic phone numbers that would allow me to dial anywhere in the world, for free. Imagine that, right? I was only like 13. Statute of limitations and all that. This was in the 80s I guess.

    Anyway, I remember we used to somehow dial into a Darthmouth mainframe and from there we could do a couple things. They had some kind of multiuser Zork (or Zork-ish) text adventure that you could play. I tried it a couple times but I couldn't get into it at the time, even though I loved Infocom games.

    The biggest appeal was getting into the chat system. There, we could chat with what I assume were Darthmouth college students. "JOIN XYZ" I think was the command from the main menu.

    There was this cool VT display of who was in the chat, so you could tell how many people were there. I used to chat with these people all the time. It was great for a precocious 13 year old who couldn't talk with his peers because his vocabulary and worldview was greatly expanded from theirs. How unfortunate that my social skills were so backward at the same time.

    The details are a bit foggy, but I'm sure with some conversation with some of the same folks who used to chat there, I could dredge up those memories. Anyone remember chatting on that system?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:30AM (#46703931)

    I think it would be more accurate to say that C# is Visual Basic with a C-like syntax so programmers no longer have to feel ashamed of using Basic.
    Let's face it: no matter whether you're using Java, C#, Python or C++ with a modern toolkit, we're all programming in Visual Basic now.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:39AM (#46704033) Homepage

    Maybe you just don't have a very good grasp on who "most people here" are.

    If "most people here" care neither about the 50th anniversary of BASIC nor of time-sharing on computers ... one might argue that "most people here" aren't actually the target audience for Slashdot.

    That's like saying on an aviation forum nobody cares about the Wright Brothers's place in history.

  • ewww (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DriveDog (822962) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @09:42AM (#46704071)
    Familiarity, in this case, bred contempt. I've written far more code in all sorts of dialects of BASIC than anything else, and I avoid it now if at all possible. For 1964 or the limited hardware in the 70s (6502s, Z80s, etc.) I suppose it was OK. But this isn't 1964 or 1978. VB isn't Dartmouth BASIC, but it looks and feels like V'GER—all sorts of stuff agglomerated onto a simple-minded core to add capabilities. So I'll celebrate not having to use it. MS made gigabucks in spite of BASIC, not because of it. Too bad K&R didn't get to work a few years sooner so we would never have heard of it. Some older cities still have lead pipes. Doesn't mean it was ever a good idea, and they'd be better off had they never used lead in the first place.

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods." -- Albert Einstein

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