A magazine about programmers, code, and society. Written by humans since 2018.

Issue 059: BASIC

Issue 059: BASIC

Welcome to the fifty-ninth issue of De Programmatica Ipsum, about the BASIC Programming Language. In this edition, we reconsider the role and importance of BASIC in the education of computer programmers; in the Library section, we review "Endless Loop" by Mark Jones Lorenzo; and in our Vidéothèque section, we review a commemorative video for the 50th anniversary of the BASIC programming language by Dartmouth College.

Programming The Liberal Arts

In 1863, it was discovered on the walls of the Villa Lemmi, near Florence, a previously unknown fresco by Sandro Botticelli covered in whitewash, called "Giovane introdotto tra le Arti Liberali" ("A Young Man Being Introduced to the Seven Liberal Arts.") This work of art was then removed and sold to the Louvre, where it has been exposed since 1882. In it, the young Lorenzo Tornabuoni, son of the head of the Roman branch of the Medici bank during the Quattrocento, is depicted holding the hand of Grammar, who introduces him to the other six liberal arts: Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, and Music.

Dartmouth College

In August 2014, Dartmouth College published a video commemorating the 50th anniversary of the BASIC programming language, the subject of this month's Vidéothèque section. It features original footage from the 1960s and interviews of former students and team members, including Professor Thomas Kurtz, who was 85 years old at the time. But the heart and soul of the video is, without any doubt, Professor John Kemeny himself; not only his technical contributions, which were outstanding by every standard, but also his open personality and progressive spirit.

Mark Jones Lorenzo

The history of the BASIC programming language is, at best, scattered across countless books, a consequence of the disdain and arrogance of generations of programmers who loudly advocated for the dismissal of such a lesser language. Or maybe it is not, and it just so happens that the language was so wildly influential that it is impossible to elaborate on any computer in the past 50 years without coming across the path of a BASIC dialect at some point.

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