Journal Archives About Books Talks

Fifty Years of BASIC, the Programming Language That Made Computers Personal

Edsger Dijkstra, a year before my birth, on what would be my first programming language:

“It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC,” he groused in a 1975 essay titled “How Do We Tell Truths That Might Hurt?” “As potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration.”

When I was in the sixth grade, without any peristent media on my Atari 800, I spent hours copying, recopying, and later completing my brother's high school computer homework.

While kids today can pop open a JavaScript console in the browser and poke around, I wonder how many of us would have become developers without such an accessible language that just turned 50.

# Shared on