As you may know, I am pushing to create more geek-related historical highway markers in New Hampshire, and I’m starting with to honor the creation of BASIC and the Dartmouth Time-Sharing System, aided by Tom Kurtz, who along with John Kemeny developed both them in the early 1960’s. Confused? Read about it here.
Explaining this stuff within the 400-and-some-odd character limit of historical markers isn’t easy. Here’s an early draft I’ve put together with Kurtz and Dartmouth math professor emeritus Scot Drysdale.
BIRTH OF BASIC, THE COMPUTER LANGUAGE FOR EVERYBODY
In 1964, Dartmouth College math professors John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz created BASIC, the first user-friendly programming language, and the Dartmouth Time-Sharing System, which let dozens of people connect with one computer simultaneously. BASIC was used to teach programming to millions of people and variants are still used today, while DTSS spread computing throughout the Northeast. They helped create Dartmouth’s reputation for technical innovation.
My wife, Diana Carroll, was the first to teach BASIC to forestry students at UNH (1974-1975).
Come to Science Cafe in Concord next Tuesday, Sept. 4 (6 p.m.) – I’ll be seeking signatures on a petition to create the historical marker. The Draft Sports Bar, 67 S. Main St., Concord.
Will the marker display “Hello World!”?
Ha – excellent idea! (Although I suspect the state wouldn’t go along with that.)