Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 30th Apr 2014 18:16 UTC, submitted by KLU9
General Development

I find the "everybody should learn to code" movement laudable. And yet it also leaves me wistful, even melancholy. Once upon a time, knowing how to use a computer was virtually synonymous with knowing how to program one. And the thing that made it possible was a programming language called BASIC.

Invented by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, BASIC was first successfully used to run programs on the school's General Electric computer system 50 years ago this week - at 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, to be precise.

It's the only programming language I was ever somewhat proficient in (when I was about six years old). I never moved beyond it, and now, I know nothing about programming. BASIC has played a huge role in the history of computing, and its birthday deserves to be a thing.

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Line numbers
by matako on Wed 30th Apr 2014 20:47 UTC
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The article states that "line numbers helped emphasize the sequential nature of computer programs"

The way I see it, line numbers were primarily used as the only viable way to have some sort of interactive editing capability on a line-oriented I/O. Imagine you are churning away your BASIC code at a Teletype-style console, no screen, just a keyboard and a roll of dead trees - line numbers enable you to change any line simply by typing another with the same number. Forgot what line it was? Exec LIST and enjoy the music. ;)

Once the real glass terminals and home computers hit the scene it indeed became less essential to tag each and every line with a number but it still helped since even those machine often did not have proper full-screen buffered editors, so line numbers needed to be explicitly stated.

It was as much a "UI" thing as a program control fixture.

Edited 2014-04-30 20:49 UTC

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