Go Back


USA, 1963 - 1975

John Kemeny

Thomas Kurz

Paul Allen - Bill Gates




Acronym for: Beginner's All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.

BASIC was originally developed at Darthmouth College in the USA and released in 1963.

Among the developers was John Kemeny (1942, Hungary) president of Darthmouth College from 1971 to 1981. The second developer was Thomas Kurz.

The Basic language was intended for use by students of computing science, and makes use of simple statements that can be read almost as instructions in English. Variables are given names, in much the same way as for an assembler, and each statement or programme line is numbered. Many versions are now in circulation which are usually not very compatible.

There are BASIC interpreters and BASIC compilers.

Developments with the BASIC language takes place with frog leaps. Now there is no need for line numbers any more, machine language routines can be called or programmes build in. The language becomes more and more structured, like PASCAL and other structured programming languages.




1975 How Microsoft did it.

Developing BASIC For The First "Personal" Computer
"This is it!" says Paul Allen, waving a copy of Popular Electronics in his hand. "it's about to begin!" On the cover is a mockup of the MITS Altair, the first personal computer. Allen, employed by Honeywell and his friend Bill Gates, a sophomore at Harvard, immediately set out to adapt BASIC for the machine, working in marathon 24-hour sessions. Allen flies to Albuquerque to demonstrate the language and -- to everyone's surprise and relief -- it works perfectly the very first time. 10

How it was decided

(Originally posted Tue, 08 Sep 1998)

Again, almost true. As always, marketing prevails over technology. In this case, Gary Kildall, the CEO of Digital Research, refused to meet with Don Estridge and the IBM “suits”, so he left it up to his wife and others. They didn't do very well at presenting CP/M-86, but IBM decided to offer it with the PC at a significantly higher price than MS-DOS. By the way, IBM went to Microsoft only because BASIC was not available on CP/M-86, but MS supplied BASIC to Apple. Once at MS, Bill Gates found that IBM was intending to offer CP/M-86, so he did an overnight Master Distributor contract with Seattle Microsystems, had his programmers work overnight to construct a demo of it, made the demo to IBM the next day, and offered to allow IBM to private-label it PC-DOS. IBM offered PC-DOS for about $90 and CP/M-86 for about $260. The rest is history. - Richard H. Caro, Vice President Automation Research Corporation(5)

Language Specifications





Go Back Last Updated on August 28, 2005 For suggestions please mail the editors 

Footnotes & References