Tag: Apple II

The BASIC computer language turns 50


BASIC, The 50-Year-Old Computer Programming Language For Regular People | Gizmodo

How Steve Wozniak wrote BASIC for the original Apple from scratch | Gizmodo

My Comments

Those of us who ever had a chance to tinker with personal computers through the 1980s or were taught computer studies through that same time dabbled in a computer programming language called “BASIC”. This language was provided in an “interpreter” form with nearly all of the personal computers that were sold from the late 1970s and is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

It was developed by two Dartmouth professors who wanted a simplified language to program a computer with in the early 1960s because mainframe-type computers had more difficult ways to program them. The language was built around words common to the the English language along with the standard way mathematical formulae was represented. It was initially represented as a compiler for the mainframes, which turned the source code in to object code or an executable image in one pass, but was eventually written as an interpreter which executed each line of source code one at a time.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen worked on a successful BASIC interpreter for the Altair microcomputer in 1975 and used this as the founding stone for Microsoft with it initially being implemented in a variety of microcomputers and some manufacturers implementing slight variations of it in to various personal computers like the Tandy TRS-80. Similarly, Steve “The Woz” Wozniak wrote the BASIC interpreter for the Apple II computers from scratch in 1976, a path followed by other computer manufacturers like Commodore, Acorn (BBC Micro), Sinclair (ZX80, ZX81, ZX Spectrum) and Amstrad.

This language was not just taught in the classrooms, but people taught themselves how to program these computers using the manuals supplied with them and many articles printed in various computing and electronics magazines. There were even books and magazines published through the 1980s replete with “type-through” BASIC source code for various programs where people could transcribe this source code in to their computers to run these programs.

BASIC – the cornerstone of the hobby computing movement of the 1980s – turns 50

How this relates to the networked connected lifestyle is that the BASIC language gave us a taste of home computing and computer programming as a hobby. Even as Microsoft evolved the language towards QuickBASIC and Visual BASIC for the DOS / Windows platform, it exposed us to the idea of an easy-to-understand programming language that was able to get most of us interested in this craft.

Farewell Steve Jobs–one of the pillars of the personal computer

Initially when I heard that Steve Jobs was to permanently resign from Apple due to ill-health, I thought it was simply retirement from one of the pillar companies of the personal-computing age.

Now, the man responsible for the Macintosh computing platform which commercialised and legitimised the “WIMP” (windows, icons, mouse, pointer) user-interface style and the iPhone and iPad devices which also did the same for touchscreen computing, has now passed away.

Many will remember his style of commercialising these technologies through a vertically-integrated method which requires the use of Apple products and services for full benefit, but this let the competitors implement systems that implemented these usage metaphors on their own platforms.

This was all from him and Steve Wozniak turning the proceeds from selling that VW Bus (Kombi-van) into capital for the Apple company. Here, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak worked on the development of the Apple II which became one of the beacons of the personal-computing age in the late 1970s.

A lot of commentators had said that Steve Jobs, through his efforts at Apple with the Apple II, the Macintosh and the iPhone and iPad devices had personalised computing. I have observed this through the demonstration software that came with Apple II computers in the 1980s, the boot sequence that was used in all the incarnations of the Macintosh platform and the design of computing products from the iMac onwards.

Whether its through the evolution of a computing technology or the passing of one of the people who influenced the direction of personal computing and communications; I would see this simply as a milestone to the connected lifestyle.