BASIC (Beginners' All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) is a family of general-purpose, high-level programming languages designed for ease of use. The original version was created by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz at Dartmouth College in 1964. They wanted to enable students in non-scientific fields to use computers. At the time, nearly all computers required writing custom software, which only scientists and mathematicians tended to learn.
In addition to the program language, Kemeny and Kurtz developed the Dartmouth Time Sharing System (DTSS), which allowed multiple users to edit and run BASIC programs simultaneously on remote terminals. This general model became very popular on minicomputer systems like the PDP-11 and Data General Nova in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Hewlett-Packard produced an entire computer line for this method of operation, introducing the HP2000 series in the late 1960s and continuing sales into the 1980s. Many early video games trace their history to one of these versions of BASIC.
The emergence of microcomputers in the mid-1970s led to the development of multiple BASIC dialects, including Microsoft BASIC in 1975. Due to the tiny main memory available on these machines, often 4 KB, a variety of Tiny BASIC dialects was also created. BASIC was available for almost any system of the era, and became the de facto programming language for home computer systems that emerged in the late 1970s. These PCs almost always had a BASIC interpreter installed by default, often in the machine's firmware or sometimes on a ROM cartridge.
BASIC declined in popularity in the 1990s, as more powerful microcomputers came to market and programming languages with advanced features (such as Pascal and C) became tenable on such computers. In 1991, Microsoft released Visual Basic, combining an updated version of BASIC with a visual forms builder. This reignited use of the language and "VB" remains a major programming language in the forms of VBA and VB.NET.
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