Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC)

In 1964, students at Dartmouth College needed better access to computers and a simple, effective language to write computer programs. First, John G. Kemeny, who was the chairman of the Department of Mathematics, and Professor Thomas Kurtz created the Dartmouth Time-Sharing System, one of the first time-share computer systems in the United States; then they created BASIC computer language so students could write programs to run on the General Electric GE-225 mainframe that was the heart of the system. On May 1, 1964, two programs written in BASIC ran simultaneously on the Dartmouth time-shared system and both accomplishments would change computing forever. Ten years later, a version of BASIC written by Bill Gates and Paul Allen was included on the Altair, the first personal computer, and after three decades, BASIC is by far the most popular computer programming language.

Kemeny and Kurtz started working on a simplified computer language in 1956. Their first programming language, Dartmouth Simplified Code (Darsimco), fell by the wayside in 1957 when FORTRAN was introduced. Another ancestor of BASIC was Dartmouth Oversimplified Programming Experiment (DOPE), which was too primitive to be useful, however both Darsimco and DOPE enabled Kemeny and Kurtz to experiment with computer languages that were targeted to the non-expert computer user.

In the early 1960s, John Kemeny believed a new language was necessary to enable non-science students to use computers. In addition, for the time-sharing to be successful, the new language would need to be simple. Thomas Kurtz; however, felt that a subset of the FORTRAN or ALGOL languages could be used. While attempting to change FORTRAN, they realized the result would in fact be a new language, and the two men then began work on BASIC.

True Basic is an ANSI Standard Basic developed by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz, the authors of the original Basic language. True Basic is a trademark of True Basic, Inc. and can be obtained through that company. True Basic is a modern structured language and may be the most gentle environment for beginning programmers.

True BASIC Language System

Language Features











Built-In Editor

Matrix Features



Stand-alone Applications*

* Standard Edition features


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