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Birth of BASIC – early systems development for the sake of computing

On YouTube is the story of an early project in computing, the Birth of BASIC. The timeframe is 1960 +/- a few years. The story isn’t just the development of BASIC but also that of interactive computing on a time sharing operating system.

The 38 minute video also shows the struggles in funding and in acquiring hardware. Another point brought out is that the programmers were undergraduate students. The focus was not on using the computers for academic research but rather for education. That meant that students were ‘turned loose’ to program what interested them and that creating access to high schools was also in the pipeline.

It is hard to imagine what was then if your experience is what we have now. A bit of history and a reflection on just how much has advanced in so little time provides a perspective on just what an epoch we inhabit.