John Kemeny (2nd from left), co-developer of BASIC, to students of Dartmouth College. Source: dpa
Berlin Computers today are tiny and ubiquitous. Each phone now has more computing power than the supercomputers 50 years ago. Personal computers did not exist back then. The machines filled in large rooms. “The people at that time had no idea what a computer is,” says Tom Cormen of Dartmouth College. “Then you could not imagine that a person can easily get started and program a computer.”
Two professors at the small college in the U.S. state of New Hampshire wanted to with this status quo but not resign. The two computer scientist John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz since 1956 already dealt with programming languages. Kemeny had even in 1943 dealt as part of the development of the first atomic bomb with the operation of computers and later became an assistant to Albert Einstein.
it all began: The photo shows Konrad Zuse with the replica of his Z1. The mechanical calculator should Zuse remove annoying computing works which he had to deal with for his civil engineering studies. The Z1 is considered the forerunner of the later Z3, the first freely programmable computer in the world. At just 26 years Zuse built in 1936 in a Berlin apartment, the computer together
Z1, seen here in the Berlin Museum of Technology, still filled the place of a double bed and was unreliable due to mechanical problems. Along with the computer Zuse invented the use of the binary system as the basis of modern computer science. Alternative approaches could never prevail.Photo: Wikipedia, License: GNU FDL
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In 1941 Zuse together with the inventor Helmut Schreyer the Z3, the world’s first functional digital computer that was freely programmable.Photo: Wikipedia, License: GNU FDL
In the U.S., long considered the 1944 ENIAC built the world’s first computer. Unlike the Z3 the ENIAC was designed to fully electronic basis. Instead of Zuse’s computers and all modern computers the ENIAC was not working on the basis of the binary system, but with the decimal system.photo: U.S. Army
Since the 1950s, computer systems have been interesting for first company. 1956, IBM announced the 305 RAMAC, which was built from 1956 to 1961. It was the first commercially successful computer with its own hard disk on which five megabytes of data could be stored – much less than a hundredth of what can be stored even on small USB drives today. The machine had a weight of one tonne.photo: U.S. Army
computer goods to the 1960s nor absolute exotics, so they conquered from the 1970s increasing number of farms. One of the most popular computer models of this period was the pictured 16-bit machine from DEC PDP11. It was used among others in the control of power plants, roads and telephone networks. An open-specified simple bus system allowed competition manufacturers own peripherals for the build computer, which contributed to the popularity of the computer.Photo: Wikipedia, License: GNU FDL
The era of supercomputers has also ushered in the 1970s. Special gained fame in this context, the company Cray. In 1976, a team under the Seymour Cray Cray-1 shown here, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a research institute of the U.S. government, bought for $ 8.8 million. Between five and eight million dollars on unit prices a business that was worth it – A total of about 80 Cray-1 have been sold worldwide.Photo: Wikipedia, License: CC
that develop individuals with an interest in computers, the industry could not imagine long. Nevertheless, it tried to MITS in 1975 with a personal computer, which is considered the first of its kind today: The Altair 8800 was offered at that time in hobby magazines as a kit ($ 495) or assembled ($ 750) – but without the pictured disk drive. Microsoft founder Paul Allen and Bill Gates at that time contributed a BASIC interpreter with, with which the computer was programmed.
From 1982, the Commodore 64, the captured children and living in Europe and the U.S. – and has sold 30 million copies for the first mass calculator history. The record as the best-selling computer model he holds to this day. Revolutionary was the – after an introductory period – low price of the computer, which was also suitable for gaming and thanks to programmable via BASIC graphics capability.Photo: Wikipedia, License: GNU FDL
Apple Lisa from 1983 was the first commercial computer equipped with a mouse and graphical user interface. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs proved with the device as visionaries – but it was difficult to sell because of the high price of $ 10,000 and has already been set back a year later. Much more successful was the cheaper Macintosh, which saw the light of day a year later.Photo: Wikipedia, License: GNU FDL
After the end of World War II, the computer technology developed rapidly. However, access to the mainframes remained very limited at the universities. Early 60s should slowly change: Up to this point, the computers were fed normally with stacks of punched cards or long paper tape, on which the commands were in programming languages such as Algol or Fortran. Because only one batch could be processed at the same time, there was little opportunity for the scientists to get a slot of valuable computer time.
about his contacts with the neighboring Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was able to follow the latest developments in computer technology virtually live Kemeny Kurtz colleague. Around that computers just could not only process commands from a source in a stack. Now it was possible that more users were working on a computer at a time (“time-sharing”).
Kemeny and Kurtz quickly recognized the potential, which opened Timeshares. You now want to create with a BASIC programming language that could be as simple as possible to communicate with the computer. The name of BASIC (“Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code”) declares the intention of the two scientists. They wanted to make a “symbolic general-purpose programming for Beginners” available that, so “basic” fundamental.
On May 1, 1964 by four clock in the morning it was time. With a push of a button Kemeny and Kurtz started on a GE-225 computer from General Electric the first BASIC program that consisted of only three lines. In the first line state “10 Let X = (7 +8) / 3″. The second line “20 PRINT X” pointed to the computer, output the result. The third line “30 END” signaled the computer that the program is executed.